The Grind

I’m not talking about making my own flour.

I’m not talking about some dirty dance move.

And I’m not talking about the monotonous, every day work routine people like to refer to as the “daily grind”.

I’m talking about this:

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Don’t let that seemingly innocent (and somewhat poorly composed) photo deceive you. What you are looking at is the view from the base of Grouse Mountain. There are two (or so) ways to get up to the top. You can take the Skyride, which is a lovely gondola ride up the mountain. Or…you can walk. On a trail appropriately named The Grouse Grind.

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This was my goal for the day – to finally conquer the Grouse Grind. I’ve felt like a bad Vancouverite for never having done it yet in all of my soon to be 31 years (did I mention my birthday is August 12th?). Sure, I’ve been up to Grouse numerous times – we skiied there when I was in Grade 7, and I’ve been up to explore with visitors from Australia. But I’ve always taken the Skyride up. In my defence – it has always been winter when I’ve gone, and the trails aren’t open then. But doing the Grouse Grind is almost a rite of passage that I had yet to fulfill.

What’s so special about this trail up the mountain side you may ask? Here are the stats:

  • Trail length: 2.9 km (1.8 mi)
  • Elevation gain: 853 m (2800 ft)
  • Total stairs: 2830
  • Slope: 56% or 30 degrees

Sounds like torture fun right? The trail is referred to as “Nature’s Stairmaster”. I don’t think that requires any explanation. And despite all of that, over 100,000 people hike the trail every season. In fact, the trail is such a popular activity that people keep records of their time to complete the trail. Apparently the average time to complete it is 90 min, but the fastest times are under 30 min! You can even purchase electronic cards that will give you official times on record with the mountain, much like the chips used in running races.

But before I even found myself looking waaaaay up to the top of the mountain with anticipation, I made sure to have a good breakfast.

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A smoothie was tempting, but I figured I needed a little more sustinance than that for my trek. So I went with a version of Banana Bread Blender Cereal.

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Into the Magic Bullet went 1 frozen banana, 2 tbsp cashew butter, milk, Nature’s Path Mesa Sunrise cereal and cinnamon. Whizzed up, poured into a bowl, and topped with a little extra cereal, cashew butter and cinnamon.

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Plus a glass of cranberry juice for extra hydration for the day’s activities.

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Not only did I make sure to fuel up at breakfast, but I also packed essentials for the day.

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Water (times 2 – there’s another bottle in the bag), strawberries, and an Elevate Me! bar. I thought it was the appropriate bar to choose for climbing up a mountain ;)

I ran a few errands, like getting gas for my car and picking up a coconut water for after the hike, then made my way over to the North Shore.

Ready and raring to go!

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The entrance to the trail.

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I’m on my way!

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So that’s where the pictures end until I reached the top.

I didn’t really know what to expect as I set out on the trail. I had no ideas of grandeur, thinking I would finish with some sort of wicked time. I just wanted to finish and feel good about it. I will admit, when I got to the 1/4 way marker, I may have exclaimed “You’ve got to be f*cking kidding me!”, as it seemed like I had been walking forever. But I also didn’t want to turn around and walk all that way back down – it’s super steep, with alot of rocks and logs, and I think it would be more dangerous going downhill than up. So I kept on trucking. I took stops when I needed to, allowed people to pass me, and passed other people along the way. I let out a little “Woohoo!” when I saw the 1/2 way marker, and was even happier when I saw the 3/4 way marker. I must have gotten that second wind after that, because I finished the last quarter of the trail 5 min faster than the other 3 quarters had taken.

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Finally I broke through the trees and was at the top of the hill – sweaty, tired, red – and proud!

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And in true Vancouverite fashion – I made note of my time.

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Official first Grouse Grind time: 77 min 36 sec. I think that’s pretty awesome. Seeing as I had no clue what I was getting into, I didn’t want to burn myself out before I finished. I also think I could have paced myself a little better on the bottom, and probably could have finished closer to the 60 min mark. I guess that means I’ll just have to go again!

Some thoughts and things I noticed while hiking the Grind:

  • Some people didn’t bring water with them. I think they are insane – I went through my two water bottles on the trail. You are asking for trouble without proper hydration.
  • I was sad to see people had discarded their empty water bottles in some spots on the trail. Don’t litter – it’s not cool.
  • Despite how dry the area is, there are alot of mosquitoes. Wear bug repellent – I got some bites.

I spent a short amount of time walking around at the top, cooling off and chugging my coconut water.

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Some sights from the top.

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Since I’d only paid for 2 hours of parking, I didn’t have alot of time to play around on the mountain, so picked up my ticket for the Skyride back down.

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Too bad all the forest fire particulate was in the air – the views on the Skyride are usually amazing.

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I chowed down on my strawberries and protein bar on the car ride home, stopping at Quinzo’s to satisfy a serious sandwich craving for lunch.

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I’m not even sure what I ordered – I think it had ham, turkey, and bacon in it, and I asked them to add guacamole and pickles.

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Plus some liquid refreshment.

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Surprisingly, I was exhausted after lunch. I hopped in the shower, then made a quick trip to the grocery store. Back at home, I vegged out in the coolness of the basement until dinner time.

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Nothing fancy – caesar salad, rotisserie chicken, and garlic cheese bread. Something light, because we had Zumba later on.

Oh yes – I still went to Zumba after my mountain climbing adventures. And the A/C was broken. So it was hot and sweaty. I had a headache the entire time. I blame it on dehydration.

But then I came up with the best rehydration drink idea. I’m not going to give you the recipe though – I want better photos to go with it, since these were taken at night.

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Just know it was delicious, fresh, and full of nutrients. I’m such a tease.

I’m proud of myself for going and conquering the Grind yesterday. What tough task have you done lately that you want to brag about?

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Categories: Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch, Outdoors

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8 Comments on “The Grind”

  1. August 4, 2010 at 4:05 pm #

    Oh wow, Marianne, the photos are beautiful! (Haha, I probably say that in ALL my comments on your blog! But it’s ALWAYS true!)
    I especially love the second-to-last cereal photo. Oh, and the trail looks so serene too. Canada doesn’t sound so bad in the summer! You’re making me want to book a trip… mainly so I can meet up with my favorite hockey friend (although I guess if I come in the summer, there’s no hockey. Boo).

  2. August 4, 2010 at 4:28 pm #

    awesome job! Your photos turned out great, too. I surprisingly wasn’t thirsty on the Grind at all (I usually drink tons of water in general) but it may be because I went early and it was still cool. I think I took 2 sips from the Camel Pak the whole time.

  3. August 4, 2010 at 5:36 pm #

    I’ve been there!!!!!!

    Pea D and I went to Vancouver and Grouse Mountain before we were married. We loved it and I’d really like to go back. Maybe a 2nd honeymoon without the girlies!

  4. August 4, 2010 at 9:11 pm #

    Zumba AND the Grind in one day!?!?! That’s pretty bad ass of you!!!! Well done!!! :)

    And the time is pretty awesome too!!!

    I hear you on the whole going up is easier thing. I felt the exact same way climbing Sulfur Mountain in Banff. In my case I was just hoping I was able to make it to the top – the day before there had been snow on the upper elevations of the trail.

  5. August 5, 2010 at 7:32 am #

    OMG, natures stairmaster! How cool is that? If I lived anywhere near you Marianne I would totally try to do it in 60 minutes! Great job!

    I am just proud that I am on day 4 of my last days of summer challenge, and the switch is on – I plan to rock it out the next 30 days!!

  6. August 6, 2010 at 6:43 am #

    The grind looks like something I’d love to try! I’ve seen Sarah post about her and her hubs going up, too. You girls make me jealous! And kudos to you for going to Zumba after all that!!

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