For a full breakdown of the journey, I have a short video of the whole trip on my YouTube channel, I encourage you to take a peek 😉
So for the second week in a row, I got oot ‘n aboot in the great Canadian Outdoors. This hike was a little more ambitious in terms of difficulty. I’d set my sights on Goat Mountain, which I found again through Vancouver Trails website, and decided to include the Grouse Grind as a warm up. A side benefit was that it saved me $12 on a gondola trip up to Grouse Mountain where the trail to Goat Mountain starts.
A warm up was an understatement.
As I mention in my first hike post, I’m new to the Canadian outdoors, and I was sure to check on the probability of running into wildlife while on the trail, and whether I would be walking away after the encounter. Fortunately, the Vancouver area has a lower chance of coming across any apex predators compared to other parts of BC and beyond. That’s not to say there still isn’t a chance, but the odds are lower (phew).
The Grouse Grind is a 2.9 km, one way trek, open from July – October.
The elevation gain over that distance is a lung busting, leg cramping, 893 metres.
Not for the faint of heart.
Unlike other North Shore ski resorts, Grouse Mountain is frequented by regular public transport that takes you all the way to the access point of the mountain. It was a relatively swift and easy three bus transfer to the Grouse Gondola Station, taking around an hour from my Kitsilano home. As you’re facing the mountain at the base station, it’s a short walk to the right to access the start of the Grouse Grind through a chain-link gate.
The start of the trail is an easy walk with an increasing rise in elevation. It’s not long until things get real. The first sign of steps and it’s non stop elevation gain. These steps alternate between timber, rock, dirt and roots. Take care to watch your footing and make use of any ropes or handrails as you make your ascent.
I got here at 8 am on a Friday morning and there was already a steady flow of foot traffic. Nothing outrageous, and due to the nature of the trail, the herd is being constantly thinned with hands on hips and heavy breathing. I was ambitious at the start, while still being conscious of reserving some energy for Goat Mountain, and it wasn’t too long before my hands crept to my own hips while I was staring to the heavens with my lungs working overtime.
I like exercising with earbuds in, but this stair-master is definitely something I recommend with only the sound of your heartbeat in your ears to keep the rhythm. Further to that, there are some die-hards out there looking to do PB’s (and one old guy with poles that was unstoppable), and if you’re the one wobbling side to side while deaf to the world, it would be courteous if you were at least aware of their presence. And let’s not forget that you’re outside in nature, that’s the best soundtrack there is!
Back to the trail, there’s markers at regular intervals to help you keep track of how far you’ve come, and how incredibly far there is to go (that’s the way it feels at least). There’s small markers totalling 40 that divide the trail, with larger markers (like the one below) that break it up into quarters that can either break or bolster your spirit.
Seeing the 3/4 marker was very comforting.
One thing I did notice on the trail was drops of sweat dotting the path all the way to the top.
Big drops of sweat.
This trail is heavy on the cardiovascular system and a moderate amount of fitness is needed for a desirable outcome. If you’ve been on the couch for the last two years, and suddenly have a rush of blood to the head, see how you fare on a regular flight of stairs before attempting this.
There’s no shame in catching your breath, trust me. It is an extremely taxing trail and it will give your legs and lungs a run for their money. Like the sign at the gate says, there’s no downhill traffic for the sake of safety, so it’s wise to have at least $10 or more for downloading on the gondola. There’s also a season pass you can get if you plan on frequenting the Grouse Grind that will save you $$$ on the journey back down the hill. I didn’t see anyone one trying to save their money heading back down the trail while I was on it.
That’s a wrap
I made it up the Grind in a respectable 1 hour. Exactly.
The recommended time is between 1.5 and 2 hours, which is where I thought I would have ended up. There were more than a few breaks to catch my breath, and give the legs a chance to recover. They were only breaks of 5-10 seconds, but people were still passing me (read: 70 year old man with the walking poles).
There’s an official time tracker that you can set up, a tag on tag off system at the base of the trail and up at the Grouse Mountain lodge to officially track your Grind.
I was telling myself I was saving energy for Goat Mountain straight after, but in all honesty, if I was leaving nothing on the table in terms of effort output, I don’t think I would have beaten that time by a large margin. At least not on this attempt.
It definitely lived up to its’ name.
I recommend taking water (as with all hikes) on the trip up the mountain. If you are feeling ill, your legs are cramping, or having bouts of lightheadedness and have only made it to the 1/4 marker, it might be prudent to head back the way you came, as it’s not getting easier for a long time yet, and you might want to put your wellbeing first.
You’ll get it next time 😉
If you brought more than $10 up the mountain, I’d say grab a beer, you deserve it!
Stay tuned for my Goat Mountain wrap up coming soon! I was going to write both of these hikes in one post, but the length got away from me, and I think it deserves its own spotlight.
Be sure to check out Vancouver Trails if you live in the area to get the low down on all the best hikes in South West British Columbia.
Don’t forget to like, comment, share, follow and sign up for my blog via email if any of this relates (or at the very least interesting!). Would love to hear your thoughts. You can find more words and pictures in the social media links to the right and in the menu above.
Happy hiking everyone.