Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Mother Nature's Stair Master" (Grouse Grind Review and Tips)

******************UPDATES FOR 2014*******************
- There are many parts of the trail that have been reconstructed, and stairs have been added. Especially after the 1/2 and right before the 3/4 mark and the last few steps before the finish of the grind. Also if you are using a grind timer, please note that the location of the timer have been changed at the top. You will need to climb up a flight of stairs after you finish the trail to the grind timer.
It's been a while since my last post and this is what I've been up to. I made a goal to complete 50 Grouse Grinds this summer to help fund raise for the BC Children's Hospital. I am proud to say as of August 10th, 2013, I've completed that goal and I going to share some of the insights to the Grouse Grind on this post.

Here's abit of background, the Grouse Grind is a 2.9 KM trail that goes up the face of Grouse Mountain, with an elevation gain of 853 meters and a total of approx 2,830 steps. It was built a few decades ago by two doctors of North Vancouver who wants to use the trail as a workout for themselves, and since then has become a destination for hikers all over the world. 

It is a misconception that the Grouse Grind is an easy trail with lots of scenery. It is quite the opposite. There is barely any scenery and most of the trail is really steep (on average of 30 degrees up). The trail goes only one way up and you must pay to take the gondola down ($10 which can be purchased at Alpine Guest Services). There have been many incidences (actually during the 50 grinds that I did, I on average see a rescue mission about twice a week), because many hikers who are not equip and fit for the hike undertake it and fall because of health issues. I would not recommend the Grouse Grind to ones who have health issues like heart conditions and also little kids (because of the steep steps).

Here are some tips:
  • Make sure to keep to one side of the trail to leave room for people who want to pass you to pass.
  • Bring Water and a snack (and don't forget to take away the garbage) so that you can stay hydrated
  • Wear comfortable clothing (athletic preferred), avoid jeans or anything that won't let the heat pass or dry quickly
  • Take breaks if necessary, but make sure you take it at the side of the trail and not on the trails themselves
  • Avoid putting your arms around your hips, it can hit hikers coming up from behind.
  • If you are using walking/hiking sticks, be aware of the people behind you. Some places are small and is potentially dangerous.
  • DO NOT bring too much stuff with you. It can be very uncomfortable for you once you start sweating.
The Grouse Grind starts at the base of Grouse Mountain, and once you exit the bus (232 or 236) or from the parking lot, you will see the entrance to the grind.  At the start of the Grind, there will be signs, one that points to Baden Powell (which branches off into another trail, the BCMC trail that can also take you to the top, but be mindful because you can get lost here as signs are not clear at some places on the BCMC/Baden Powell) The Grind at the beginning starts off with a steep hill, this hill has very loose rock so be careful when you are walking over it. After the steep hill, the trail will begin to take you deeper in to the mountain. About 5-10 mins in to the trail, the stairs will start. I recommend going up these stairs at a slow but steady pace as this is the less steep part of the trail.
Once you are about 10 minutes into the stairs, you will reach rocks that will start ascending at a steeper angle. You will cross a bridge which will take you to rocks that leads up to the quatre mark. Here, you have a chance to turn back if the trail is too steep or you do not feel well enough to continue. Once you decide to continue, the rest of the trail awaits. 

In about 10-20 minutes later you will reach the half way mark. This section is probably the less steep section out of all 4 sections of the trail. Be sure to go slow and steady and keep in mind that after the half way mark, the trail will become extremely steep.

After the half way mark, you will begin a very steep ascend up a few rocks (you might need to use your hands here). Be mindful that when you need to take a break, you move to the side so that others can pass behind you. About 20 minutes later you will reach the 3/4 mark (here the mark is placed on a tree that isn't so obvious so you might miss it if you don't look up). After 3/4 the rest of the trail is steep but it is fast. Before you know it, you will reach the top! You can give your self a pat on the back once you get to the top and scream "I'm king of the world" because it is a great accomplishment to complete a Grind.

For those who are more hardcore and like to do it often, you can purchase an annual pass ($119) and/or a timer ($20) that can track your time and put your name in categories that show up on the score board. 

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