The Grouse Grind Vancouver is synonymous with hiking, yet many people seem to think the name is a bit of a hyperbole. It is not. It IS a GRIND. It is a painful, strenuous, sweaty, and agonizing hike – which will take the average person around an hour and a half to two hours to complete. Yes, there may be an insane number of seniors who hike up the trail (thereby creating a misplaced belief that the trail is pretty gentle), but my guess is those same seniors also run marathons, practice MMA, and do P90X daily just for fun.
Despite the grind, I love it. I put my head down, my earphones on, and listen to the soundtrack to all the classic 80s movie montages: The Karate Kid (“You’re the best…around…nothing’s gonna ever keep you down…”), Rocky 1, 2, 3 and 4 (“It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight, standing up to the challenge of our rivals…”), and Top Gun (“Take my breath awa….”, errr, I mean, “Highway to the danger zone…”). I go with no breaks, passing people along the way, feeling pretty good about that, and then feeling pretty dejected when I’m passed by a speed demon disguised as a senior citizen (I reason that it’s because they’re wearing UnderArmor, which really cuts down on their drag, plus, I’m so much bigger and heavier than them). When I get to the top, I check my time (oh, 43 minutes, a personal best) and I raise my hands and belt out a loud, “DRAGO!!!”
The thing is, I can spot Grouse Grind newbs all the time and it both saddens and annoys me when they’re suffering because most their problems could be avoided if only they hiked it smartly. Here are some Grouse Grind tips:
- Wear appropriate footwear (i.e. Don’t wear flip flops or high heels)
This is my biggest pet peeve. I see it all the time. A guy or girl unable to climb up some rocks because of their skinny jeans and flip flops/high heels. They need to take the hand of the person they’re with for balance, and it slows every one else down. They look surprised, out of breath, and confused as to why this hike is so difficult. Look, there’s a reason why it’s not called the Grouse Fashion show or the Grouse Posers’ Party – it’s because it’s the f*ckin’ Grouse GRIND.
- Dress light
Those speed demons (a.k.a. freakishly fit senior citizens) have all got something in common: they wear shorts, a t-shirt, a hat, and a pair of hiking shoes, and they carry a Sigg bottle of water. That’s it! No back packs, no picnic baskets, and certainly no make-up purses. No wonder they’re so fast. That being said, I tend to bring a backpack because I like to train with the added weight. Yes, I know I’m being a hypocrite.
- Carry water
You will sweat. Lots. And there are no majestic streams of glacial mountain water where you can grab a cold drink. It’s called the Grouse Grind, not the Grouse Brewing company.
- Use the washrooms before hand
There are restroom facilities in the Grouse mountain parking lot. Use them. It’s hard enough holding in pee while watching a movie in a movie theatre let alone hiking up a mountain for an hour or so while holding in pee.
- Carry a credit card only (a wallet is dead weight)
You’ll need to pay for the Gondola ride back down to the base of the mountain, unless you’re deciding on hiking down the mountain as well. Lucky for us, the ride down is a fraction of the cost for the ride up.
- Don’t stop
It’s always more painful to stop and start. When you feel yourself getting tired, slow down, keep moving your feet no matter how slow it feels, turn up the tunes on your iPod, and remember, “It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight, standing up to the challenge of our rivals…”.
The Grind usually opens up in May when the weather in Vancouver improves and the trails aren’t as slippery any more. Grouse Grind competitions occur quite frequently, and being a competitive person myself, I do try to train with the intent of one day making it on the Daily Best list (but my time would have to be in the low 30’s to qualify).
Grouse Grind Hours of Operation:
The Grouse Grind is generally a spring to fall hike. Opening late May to September. During the summer months, the trail is open from 6:15 am to 7:00 pm.
Good luck on your trip up the Grind. Who knows, we may pass each other on the trail – only to be passed by another senior citizen seconds later. Damn, those seniors really can excel at this hike.
Please share your best times in the comments below!
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