Sometimes, the weather can be a Grind

27 06 2010

Sunday’s cool, damp grayness may not have been so conducive to a long ride, but it was perfect conditions for a little cross-training.

It was a perfect morning to climb the Grouse Grind.

The Grind is a 2.9 km trail that climbs 853 meters up Grouse Mountain; that’s an average gradient of about 30 per cent!

The Grouse Grind summits somewhere up in those clouds.

It was cut in the early 1980s by a couple of outdoorsman and over the years has become very popular with anyone looking to achieve a fitness burn in the great outdoors.

This popularity has meant great long sections of the trail have had to be shored up with rock and wood stairs, some with rope handrails.

Make no mistake, it’s still a rugged, challenging climb, especially when it’s wet and the rocks and roots are slippery and the dirt sections have turned to slick mud. Which makes it all the more bewildering when people head up the trail wearing jeans, or flipflops, or carrying their groceries, or a kid in a pack on their back.

On a nice day, the trail can feel and look more like a vertical highway at rush hour than a wilderness hike as all manner of touristas and casual climbers try to find out what all the fuss is about.

But the rain tends to keep them confined to the malls. That makes it easier to find parking at the bottom of the trail, and easier to achieve a good time on the climb.

Because make no mistake, doing the Grind is all about the time.

Dedicated, hard-core Grinders can even buy a special card they swipe at a reader at the beginning and end of the trail to record their time in a computer, which displays the results on monitors in the ski lodge up top.

The best time ever recorded was just over 24 minutes.

A person of decent fitness should take anywhere from an hour to 90 minutes.

A few years ago, when I had done a number of Grinds, I was able to get my time down to about 44 minutes.

Sunday, I reached the top in 50 minutes. Not bad for the first time out.

I actually had an excellent first quarter, which is the longest, but least steep, sector. But I paid the price for my quick early pace through the middle half, when my legs felt like lead. I recovered nicely in the last quarter, though, and ended up finishing about a minute ahead of my riding buddy Dan, and two minutes ahead of Shanksman.

A rare sight indeed, Dan reaching the summit about a minute after me.

I learned years ago the key is to keep moving, even when your legs want you to take a break; essentially you take working breaks, just slowing your pace a bit to recover.

As the weather at the summit was rather dismal, cold and pouring rain, and it was still morning, we didn’t hang around long to indulge in our usual reward of a cold beer on the outdoor patio. Just bought our tickets for the gondola ride back down the mountain and headed home.

As in all things in life, what goes up, must come down. Our last $5 ride on the gondola.

It turns out, today was the last day for one of the last great bargains of BC; tourists who ride the gondola up and then down the mountain pay $42 but if you hike up, the ride down costs  only $5. But Monday that downbound fee doubles to $10!

While that $5 fee hasn’t changed for years, and we were even discussing in the early part of our hike while we were all still together the likelihood that it would be going up with the implementation of the new Harmonized Sales Tax that combines the federal GST and the Provincial Sales Tax, a 100 per cent increase feels a bit like a gouge!

An historical artifact: the last day of the last of the great BC bargains.

It’ll be interesting to see if the fee increase leads to more people choosing to hike DOWN the Grind, even though there are signs warning against it, and those who have done it say it’s even tougher on the knees and more dangerous than the hike up.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: