The Who, What, Where, When & Why of my fitness regime
High atop Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver, British Columbia lies the glorious Grouse Grind. A popular hiking trail, it is also one of the most gruelling work-outs this province has to offer!
“It is a steep trail that climbs 853 m (2,800 ft) over a distance of 2.9 km (1.8 mi), with an average grade of 17 degrees (or 31%) and short sections of up to 30 degrees. The trail, nicknamed “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster”, is notoriously grueling due to its steepness and mountainous terrain. Hikers, who often time themselves on the trail, reach the top in approximately 90 minutes on average although some who are very fit can finish in under 30 minutes.”
Sound hard? It is!!
Luckily, that’ just the way I like it ;)
Monday was a provincial holiday, so I asked Rin Suicide “Hey, wanna hike a mountain with me? She, as I expected, said “Hells yeah!”
Now, when it comes to hiking, there is lots of prep you can do, and supplies you can bring. However, due to my wicked stubborn streak, and the amenities available at the top, I don’t bother with any of that. When I take on The Grind, I wear as little clothing as possible, carry next to nothing, and stop for no one.
Let’s do it!
Tita’s tips and tricks
*You can only go up from here – The Grouse Grind runs in one direction – UP! Before you take it on, make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s unfair to your fellow hikers, and unsafe for you, to climb back down. Heed the signs, listen to the warnings, and trust me on this one.
*Take small steps – There are 2830 stairs on the hike. They are far from uniform, and many are irregularly shaped. To keep from getting fatigued early on, I keep my steps short and controlled, and keep my stride in check.
*Use your glutes – It’s easy to get carried away picking your feet up, and forget to propel them from behind. Your gluteals are some of your largest muscles. Let them do some of the work.
*Use your arms – There are ropes along the trail, so why not use em? In some places they are there to keep you away from the edges of the path, while in others they are meant to assist climbers with the steepest portions of the hike. Whatever the case, grab on, and pull yourself up! Transferring some of the work from your lower body, to your upper body will help keep your legs firing all the way to the end.
*Stay off your toes – Place your entire foot on the step, before you put your weight on it. It may sound like common sense, but with the uneven terrain, and (in my case) your rush to get to the top, you may find yourself putting your foot down at any old angle. Chanel your Step Class teacher, and make sure you plant your foot properly, before advancing.
*Hydrate before AND after – One of the worst things to befall an athlete mid work-out is dehydration. Dehydration can cause muscles fatigue and cramping, neither of which you want on the side of a steep mountain. Drink plenty of fluids the night before you climb, the morning of, and immediately following your ascent. You will sweat – a lot. Replace your fluids!
On average it takes 90 minutes to get to the top of The Grind. While some elite athletes do it in as little as 24, anything under an hour is considered a respectable, and athletic time. Rin finished her first ever Grind in just 1 hr 3 minutes, while I clocked in at 47 minutes.
Don’t kid yourself – The Grind is tough! Because it is listed on several tourist sites, and located near one of the Vancouver area’s most beautiful resorts, people often underestimate it. Each year, many hikers collapse, suffer dehydration, or begin too late in the day to finish before sunset. In the off-season North Shore rescue are often called to retrieve hikers who become stranded due to inclement weather, and poor hiking conditions.
Pay attention to the signs, respect hiking etiquette, and be sure to check the official Grouse Grind website, for information regarding hours/dates of operation, and hiking conditions.
You can also check out some beginners tips here
No matter how miserable it is on the way up, being able to tell your friends you “climbed a mountain” more than makes up for it ;)
Do you love it?!?