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  Weekly Feature (July 27, 2008)


The Grouse Grind
Helen's Weekly Feature


Once the snow begins to melt there are many a local "grind" enthusiast who await the unlocking of the gate. Usually in May or June the trail opens and it is time once again to face the challenge of the grind, the Grouse Grind. Each year the numbers grow. I remember when it was possible to complete the entire trek without seeing another climber. Now about 200 people per hour attempt the 2.9 km journey to ĎThe Peak of Vancouverí. Who are these people and why do they do it?

People of all ages and all nationalities can be seen along the trail.  Parents with children unable to make the climb carry their youngsters and they walk the trail along side senior citizens, individuals well over the age of 65. 

Plus, itís not just locals who are making the trek. One can hear the laments from first timers in all languages; you donít have to understand the words to know that they are not talking about that nightís dinner plans.

A common question posed by the uninitiated is simply, why?  I think many tourists first attempt it because it beats the alternative of paying $34.95 for the tram ride; that is until the climb begins. For locals it is the best form of exercise that I know of. It is difficult to explain exactly why because it is not done for the camaraderie (it is easier to hike alone at oneís own pace) nor for the enjoyment (you just have to look at the faces of those on the trail).

A year ago when I took a friend from Brazil up the Grind he couldnít stop talking about the steepness of the slope, the difficulty in breathing, the pain involved and he wanted to know if we had time to do it again before he returned home!

If you plan on attempting the Grind for the first time, let me give you a few tips. First, prepare yourself for a grueling hour of exercise and eat well before attempting it Ė youíll need the energy. Next, wear the appropriate clothing. Sandals and jeans single out the rookies. Lastly, and most importantly, carry water. Although it can be completed in just over 24 minutes (fastest recorded time) you will most likely take longer and need refreshment along the way.

There are those who do it once a day as part of their regular exercise. Iím part of the next level who do it about once a week. Then there are those who are satisfied to complete the challenge once a year, proving to themselves that they can still do it. And then thereís those like my sister who is happy to say, ďIíve done it once and thatís more than enough for a lifetime.Ē Whichever group you may fall into, I strongly urge you to give it a try.

Here is more information on Grouse Mountain.


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