For those of you that are blissfully unaware of what the Grouse Grind is, it is a hiking trail in North Vancouver that ascends from the base of Grouse Mountain to the summit. It is known as "Mother Nature's Stairmaster", and is a great favourite with locals and tourists alike, although Tim and I cannot figure out why a tourist would want to do something like that on their vacation. Anyhow, I mentioned to Tim that I wanted to do the Grouse Grind to redeem myself following a terrible showing the only other time I ever tried it, way back in 2003. I didn't finish. Not only did I not finish, but I don't think I even made it to the 1/4 way mark. I could be wrong about not making it to the 1/4, but I am sure that I didn't make it halfway.
So this morning we got up early, at about 8:00 (although I had been up since 5:00 because I was so excited!), and arrived at the entrance to the Grind at 9:00. There was a race going on in the area, so it was very busy, although the race did not take place on the Grouse Grind. The Grind was already very busy. If you've ever been hiking anywhere in the Lower Mainland, it is far busier than anywhere else I've ever been. That being said, it is not unmanageable, or at least it wasn't at 9:00 a.m. I've heard it gets even busier as the day goes on.
The weather in North Vancouver was mild, but far cooler on the trail due to the tree cover. It was perfect for hiking, because the Grind really starts out hard and keeps on going. The first quarter is less steep than the rest, so a lot of newbies tend to take it too fast and are then exhausted for the rest of the hike, and we were no exceptions. The trail is marked by quarters based both on distance and elevation. I was having a pretty hard time with my breathing, and Tim was having a hard time with his leg muscles, so we took frequent breaks, because the very last thing that you want to do is to have to turn around with sore burning legs and walk down.
I knew that a relatively fit person can usually finish in an hour and a half, so I didn't really know how long it would take us to finish. In the end, we finished in 1:47, which I was very happy with, considering it was both of our first times. We're planning on going back next weekend, and hopefully eating first (we did it this time on an empty tank). Since neither of us have been working out at all for months, I think that we will probably improve our times dramatically the next time we go.
At the end of the Grind, you come to a clearing at the top of the mountain, and it's all over. There is a gondola that you can take down, and it is such a beautiful ride!
The hike overall is far harder than any hike I've done in a long time, the steepness is challenging and all the people passing you by (assuming you're not one of the people that can run up it!) are ever so slightly demoralizing to some. To me, it is really encouraging, because you see all sorts of people of all ages, fitness levels and experience with the Grind, and some people really surprise you. I can't wait to go back!
After we came home, I rehydrated and took a couple Motrin Migraine Relief capsules, because I got a bit of a headache due to the dehydration. I ate a banana immediately after we finished, then a bowl of Kashi with berries when we got home, and a big bowl of soup about an hour later. My legs feel really good, tired, but good, and I generally feel lazy. Today is a perfect day to just relax and recover from all that hard work!