After doing my very best to psych myself up for the start of summer, the reality is that since the slopes at Whistler closed I’ve been very slack. Part of it, I’m sure, was sadness at the end of winter. There’s never been a season when I had more driving me than this one, and I hadn’t had nearly enough of the backcountry adventures, the powder snow, the improvements in ability and technique that I was finally seeing in the last couple of months. Mostly, though, it’s that work is currently taking priority, and consequently there’s been much less time than I’m used to for chasing adventures.

I’ve made it out for a few easy spins on the road bike, but nothing more demanding than a quick two-hour circuit to Iona and back. We’ve been doing the Grind once a week, consistently clocking in around the 50-minute mark, but an hour doesn’t really feel like enough. We’ve been to the pool a few times, but the miserable June weather hasn’t been much of an inspiration for outdoor swimming.

I’m starting to feel antsy, pent-up, ready for something more. I need to start chiseling time out of the parts of the week that I’m not using for other things, ignoring the weather, and getting back out there.

Today we shrugged our shoulders at the hammering rain and hit the mountain for a drenching round trip on the Grind. The climb was a joy; in spite of the trail having turned into a waterfall, the rain was refreshing and my legs were feeling springy and ready for anything after five days without exercise on an out-of-town work trip. At the top, I wanted nothing more than to do the whole thing again.

Soggy Grouse Grind

With energy to spare, we made the mistake of deciding to hike down. Ignoring the fact that I’ve been told by my physiotherapist that this isn’t a very good idea, conditions were deteriorating by the minute with the rain pounding down and the trail growing increasingly wet and slippery. The light jackets we’d brought with us couldn’t cope with the downpour, and as we picked our way down through ankle-deep puddles and flowing water we weren’t able to move fast enough to keep ourselves warm. Just before the quarter mark I slipped on a root, twisted my left knee hard as I fell and it buckled underneath me, and came to an abrupt halt as I broke my fall by slamming my right shoulder into a tree trunk.

I only took a few minutes to recover from the pain, but the brief lack of movement took a toll and we both became very chilled. The final quarter was a shivery, wet mess, and when the trail finally ended we hotfooted it across the lake of a parking lot to the washrooms where we discovered that both our so-called waterproof backpacks had failed to live up to their reputation, and our dry clothes were soaked. (I had more than an inch of water pooled in the bottom of my bag.)

Drowned rat

Giving up on the idea of dry clothes, we ran (achy knees and all) back to the car, where we used our emergency foil blankets to protect the seats from our drenched garments. The windows quickly fogged to opacity, and I had to switch the heaters from blowing much-needed warm air at us to demisting at regular intervals as we drove toward the bridge. Each time I turned the vents away from us, I began shivering uncontrollably; my core temperature was clearly bottoming out. I sent a small prayer of thanks to my friend A (whose car I still have) for the heated seats, which I’m fairly sure saved us from incipient hypothermia.

In spite of the fact that this was a really stupid adventure, at least we got out there and did something and I feel a lot better for it. Now I just have to figure out how to find the time to get back out and do more over the next couple of months. It’s not going to be easy. For the time being, the best I can hope for is to be a dedicated weekend warrior.

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