Sunday, August 12, 2012

Vacation: Grouse Grind

Wowww. I'm back home in New York City and I still can't believe that I climbed the Grouse Grind. It was by far the highlight of my trip and I can't wait to go back and try it again.
Grouse Mountain and North Vancouver from downtown Vancouver
I'm not sure I've ever had such an amazing exercise-related experience. This hike--if it can even be called a hike--is much more intense than advertised. It is also incredibly awesome. The entire route, all I could think was "holy sh-t I'm climbing a mountain! My legs are carrying me up a mountain!"
the entire hike is like this -- stairs up a mountain
The hike is roughly 1.8 miles and has a 2800 ft elevation gain with just 2860 steps, meaning that the average step is 1 ft high (and since quite a few are less than that, there are a lot of large steps you're taking!). But at the end, you're rewarded with a great view of the Greater Vancouver area at the top of Grouse Mountain.
such a gorgeous city!
Or at least you're supposed to see that view. The day I hiked the Grind with my dad, there was a heavy mist covering the mountain, so what we actually saw was this:

this is how the Pacific Northwest looks 75% of the time
In some ways, this was better. It made me feel like I was ascending up into the clouds as I hiked! I did get a bit cold since I wasn't wearing proper moisture-wicking gear, so my shirt got wet with sweat and cold and once I got to the top I started freezing. But that was just an excuse to get my Grouse Grind t-shirt that I am now wearing proudly.

I was SO proud of myself for making it up that mountain. I stopped frequently with my Dad during the first half because he isn't in great cardio shape (although he does a lot of strength training and yoga, so this hike was a great push for him to start running). At the halfway mark, he encouraged me to go on alone so that I could try to make my goal of finishing under the average time (1.5-2 hours). I pushed on ahead and finished in 1 hour and 15 minutes! I think I could have done an hour or maybe even less if I'd gone alone, but it was great to have my Dad there with me for the first half.
a very sweaty me after finishing the climb
If you are visiting Vancouver, you HAVE to go on this hike. It's such a wonderful personal endurance test and there's a restaurant at the top for those who need food as motivation. On a sunnier day, the view from up there would be amazing!

You can hike down a different route (the Grouse Grind only goes up, for good reason -- you might die if you tried to go down those steep steps) or take the Grouse Mountain Skyride, which is what my Dad and I did. It cleared up as the gondola went down the mountain and we got to see the beautiful Vancouver skyline.
we were stuck in the middle so I stood on tiptoes to see the view
 I'm hoping to go home to Washington State in mid-August again next year so that I can run the second Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon and do the Grouse Grind again. This time, my goal is to make it in under 60 minutes. I can't wait!!

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