Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Grouse Grind

You know the saying, you're never a tourist in your own town? As a response to this, nearly every summer I make a mental list of Vancouver things to do that I haven't ever done. I usually don't get around to the list due to other commitments, but this past Wednesday I did a big one:
My fellow hikers: Katie, Stefan and Honza.
The Grouse Grind is a hiking trail up Grouse Mountain. Nicknamed "Mother Nature's Stairmaster," the trail is 2.9km, during which you climb 853m in elevation. I consider myself to be in fairly good physical shape, but the grind was much tougher than I expected; this surprised me a bit because, well, don't tourists do it?

I was lulled into a false sense that the Grind would be easy because everyone always says that the Grouse Grind is "just a bunch of stairs." Essentially they're right, but the steps are not evenly spaced like a staircase, and it's actually pretty rugged including rocks, small boulders, and tree roots. I'm about average height (5'4"), but some points had me taking steps that were up to my hips.

I think we started out pretty fast; for the first third of the hike I got a massive head rush which left me feeling pretty dizzy. Reaching the markers, however, was super encouraging and gave me a rush of adrenaline to continue on. My head rush subsided by the half-way mark, and the trail seemed to actually get easier as we went.

Our time was 74 minutes--pretty good for a first time, I think. It was challenging, but I liked it way better than doing an elliptical or stairmaster at the gym. Though my quads burned while I was climbing it, my legs didn't ache at all the next day. I'd love to give it another try and see if I can shave some time off.

The Grouse Grind is one of those things all good Vancouverites should do at least once. The Grind might be a little more physically demanding than the average tourist bargained for, so in light of that, I wouldn't recommend this as a tourist attraction. You can still get to the top of Grouse via the Gondola. If you're visiting Vancouver and into hiking, or just in good physical shape, I would say go for it as you'll be rewarded by a stunning view of the city below once you reach the top and can get a celebratory drink.

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