First and foremost, Happy Canada Day! Today, our great country is 144 years old. That is just fantastic. I can’t help think that Canada is now the square multiple of 12. Wierd? Yeah, I know. This weekend my boyfriend and I decided that instead of travelling for hours and hours to ‘get away from it all’ we would sleep in our own bed and have a “Stay-Cation” in the City. What an excellent idea. It is by no means less expensive, because we’ll be tourists in our own town, but the travel time is great and really, there’s no place like home. We made a list - the list includes going for a motorcycle ride, eating pancakes at De Dutch (we have a gc), watching the fireworks, dinner with the parents, kayaking on deer lake, seeing the art gallery surrealist exhibit, and many more. The important thing to mention is that the list has no chores or errands. Fun activities only! On Friday morning we opened up our list and checked the weather (surprise, it’s cloudy with a chance of rain). What a great day to do the Grouse Grind!? Not too hot, not pouring rain, so we went for it.
There are several stages to the Grind, an evolution really. We began the hike with hope in our hearts, full waterbottles, and clean sneakers. First Stage: Burning Panic. For the first 1/4 of the course, the burning was tangible. My chest was prickling, my calves full of spikes and my panting was audible. I’m certain no bears would come near for fear of coming upon some strange being in heat, or worse, in labour. I attribute the piercing burning experience to not being warmed up, and the fact that the thought of 2,800ish steps loomed before me. It was pretty daunting, but I couldn’t quit. I wanted to reach the top. Second Stage: Warmth. The intense burning transitioned to warmth as my legs began to warm up and my muscles got into their groove. The trail was fun. I laughed and we talked about the forest. The panting subsided and I felt like I could do anything. It was such an empowering feeling... until we came across the 1/2 way marker. Only 1/2 way? I dug in and continued forward, I wasn’t going to quit now; after covering 1/2 the 900ish verticle meters. Third Stage: Zombie. Staggering forward, the path, if you could call it that, became more obscure and the distance between the steps larger. I was no longer thinking about my legs, or the burning, or anything really, just thinking about the next step in front of me, prodding my legs to continue to move. To have quit after going so far? How would I get down? I would have to cover 3/4 of the distance going down and there are no hand rails. Forward it was! Fourth (and Final) Stage: Jello. I remember looking up the path, littered with people panting, internalizing their struggle, much the same way I was, when I realized there was no higher to go. That, or the path evened out for a bit and then continued to climb the mountain. I got dizzy and had to look back at my safe, comfortable zone of 2 or 3 steps. I pushed. I wanted to do it. I felt alive! I wanted to race forward, to sprint up the stairs, except for the fact that my legs had turned to J-E-L-L-O. I had uneven footing, unsure measure of the rocks and thank-goodness for some hand ropes on the side of the trail I could grasp and pull myself forward with. While I wanted to surge forward, my burned out toes, calves, knees and thighs could just barely support my weight, let alone run a race. I continued forward, imagining a fountain of beer and a bed of french fries to climb into at the top. Once we finished our hike, with a few high fives from fellow hikers, we sat and gazed upon our feat. We had climbed a distance of 3km over 900 vertical meters in just over an hour and a half. How inspiring. How empowering. How exhausting! There was no beer fountain and no bed of french fries, but we did share a beer and a hamburger before heading down the gondola - which, took 6 minutes and showed us an incredible view! Would I do the Grouse Grind again? YES. But maybe not for a few weeks. We came home, showered, and crashed until late into the evening, barely making it out in time to catch the fireworks (cross that off the list too). It was an incredible day and it feels good to accomplish goals, even when your legs feel like jello.