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
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
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.