I love the Grouse Grind.
It drives me crazy sometimes. The days when it resembles nothing more than Grand Central Station, a conga line of people slowly ascending their way up the mountain. The folk who have no clue about trail etiquette, and refuse to move aside even when the speed climbers beneath them ask repeatedly and politely to be let past. The groups who shout and scream all the way up, shattering the quiet of the woods. The tragically unprepared, who sit in Gucci loafers just below the quarter mark asking passing hikers if they’re nearly at the top. The times I tackle it when I’m having a bad day and my leg muscles feel like wet, quivering noodles and my heart threatens to bust right out of my chest as I push on upwards.
But I still love it. It’s so brutal and unrelenting. There just isn’t anywhere else that compares when you want to push yourself to your absolute cardio limit. There are no flat stretches, and once you’ve done it a few times rest stops start to feel like something for the weak. The Grind – for us at least – is about setting foot on the trail, and then pushing as hard as you damn well can until you get to the top. And when you approach it like that, it’s the best workout in the world.
Yesterday my leg muscles were completely blown out after cycling 146km on Friday and then skiing what was best described as challenging snow at Whistler on Saturday. It felt as tough as the Grind’s ever felt. Our upward progress seemed agonizingly slow as J bounded ahead of me and I reminded myself repeatedly that however tired my legs were, they had plenty of fuel and shouldn’t be complaining in comparison to last summer. In the end it’s just one step, and one more, and then one more after that. Enough of those and you’ll end up at the top sooner or later.
We made it in 55 minutes, which is lagging behind our standard Grind time (around 50 minutes) but not bad under the circumstances. And in spite of how brutal it was, and the unfortunate collection of really slow and inconsiderate groups on the final quarter, I was so glad we did it. There’s never been a time that I’ve done the Grind that I haven’t felt better afterwards.