Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I Survived the Grind.

But just barely.

So we've done some amazing things in Vancouver.  Stanley Park, Granville Island, Gastown, Robson Street, hither, thither, and yon.  We have walked miles all over the city and the weather--while chilly by my hot-and-humid-Missouri-summer standards--has been glorious.  Cool, cloudy mornings shift into sunny-but-cool afternoons, and evenings were lovely for sitting outside with a blanket (there are virtually NO mosquitoes here--it's amazing!) so when we weren't traipsing all over the city, you could find my mom and me lounging on our rooftop deck with our e-readers and cups of tea.  Because we are so cool.

Tuesday morning, we were feeling adventurous and we decided to head over to Grouse Mountain.  My dad was interested in the wind turbine, my mom was interested in the gondola ride, and we all thought that a nice little 1.8 mile hike would be a fun way to spend the morning.


I thought 1.8 miles would be a breeze.  What I didn't count on was that the elevation goes up HALF A MILE in 1.8 miles.  So it was essentially like climbing a half-mile long vertical ladder.  Or maybe a mile long super steep staircase.  For TWO HOURS!

I have had some lovely hiking experiences in Hawaii, Oregon, and even the Ozark mountains in my home state.  I would say that I enjoy hiking.  But stair climbing?  For hours?  Well, as Brandon said when we were about 3/4 of the way up the mountain and I was begging David for a piggy-back ride, "I'm not sure we're really a hiking family."

The real problem was that we didn't research this well so we didn't know what we were getting into until we were all up in it.  We didn't bring water (why bother?  It's such a short hike!  And there's a restaurant at the top!) and even though it was a cool day, we were working hard enough that everybody shed their jackets and was sweating by the time we were a quarter of the way through.  My mom wanted to turn back and just ride the gondola up, but we peer-pressured her into continuing (Brandon kept saying it would probably "level out near the top," which defied all logic but somehow made us feel better.  It did NOT actually level out near the top, though.)  The record time to the top is something like 24 minutes.  We took just under two hours.  Also, we were passed by an old man with a walking stick.  Seriously.

But we made it!  And I have the commemorative t-shirt to prove it!

And it was seriously amazingly beautiful.

At the start of the walk.  I had no idea how unprepared I was.  Also this picture makes me want to bitch about David's lack of photography skills.  Not that I am the world's greatest photographer, but seriously?  If you're taking a picture of a SIGN, maybe you want to be able to READ it?  I'm just saying.  OK.  Done bitching, especially considering my husband has cooked dinner for my entire family almost every night of this vacation.  LOVE him.
Dad and Mom trekking uphill.

Brandon and David.  I'm only a few feet below them.  That's how freaking steep it is.

And everyone is starting to feel a little exhausted.

Can you see the path?  It's the one going DIRECTLY UPHILL.  At least the surroundings were spectacular.

A happy snap.  We look happier than our leg muscles feel.

The higher we got, the foggier it became.  Also we still had a long way to go at this point.

At last!  Victorious at the top of Grouse Grind!
By the time we made it up the mountains, my legs were feeling a little wobbly and I was afraid that my quads would be killing me the next morning.  We grabbed lunch up there (we'd worked up quite an appetite) and Brandon introduced my dad and David to the wonders of poutine (French fries and cheese curds covered in brown gravy--a culinary delight that my dad loved), and we guzzled bottles of water and talked about what unprepared idiots we were for that hike.  We ended up skipping the wind turbine because it was so foggy/cloudy that there wasn't much of a view.  But we road the gondola down the mountain and once we got below the cloud line, it was really lovely.

Amazingly, I wasn't sore at all the next day, but we gave up on our original plan to go to the anthropology museum that night because no one could handle the idea of WALKING anywhere.  Instead, we made dinner in the townhouse and then I soaked my weary legs in a hot bath and sipped a glass of wine.  It's the miracle cure for the over-strained muscles.  And not a bad way to spend an evening, whether or not you've hiked 1.8 miles at a near-90-degree incline.


Here's a view of our hike from below.  And yes, we started at the bottom, and hiked all the way up, beyond the clouds, to the very top!
If you look closely, through the fog, you can see the gondola approaching one of the towers--it doesn't stop until it goes THROUGH those clouds and all the way to the top of the mountain.  I still can't believe we WALKED up there.


  1. It all looks so lovely! And the temperature? Man can we get a break here in the midwest? Glad that you are having a good vacation~

  2. I'm tired just looking at the pictures! Bravo!

  3. bahahahahahaha! I love the look of defeat, the "are we friggin' done yet?" look you are giving in the one where you are leaning on the tree. Priceless! And I physically laughed out loud when you said you didn't bring any water! Hilarious. As I said, I have done this hike before, so I know how BRUTAL it would be not to have water. I was telling my MIL today that doing the Grind is like walking to the top of the CN Tower, but with trees. A super sincere "CONGRATULATIONS" to your whole fam for making it to the top!!
    I hope the rest of your trip is a tad more relaxing!

  4. I am so glad my husband and I aren't the only ones who set off for "easy" hikes completely unprepared. It is beautiful there, good job making it all the way to the top.

  5. I'm glad you made it to the top, and am really enjoying the photos. You and your family are all really good sports!

    If I ever find myself faced with this hike, I think I'll gondola up and walk down...

  6. Wow, that's intense!! I always find myself in over my head in these situations. I love that happy picture of you and David!

  7. What a great sense of accomplishment you must have!! You know, for the wine/bubble bath. The rest of your day sounds torturous! :) Kidding, looks exhausting though.

  8. Looked beautiful there, even with the fog! I kind of want to do that hike now.

  9. It looks SO beautiful! Even though it was tough I gotta say I am jealous.. I would love to make that climb someday!!! Congrats for making it!

  10. You're cute. Crazy, but cute. ha

  11. I would have taken the gondola. But then, I'm the one who suggested to her husband that we walk up Citadel Hill in Halifax, from the harbourfront to the Citadel at the top. In the blazing sun. And when we finally got up there, there was a huge beautiful parking lot. Next time, we'll take the car. ; ) Glad you are having a good time (Lululemon notwithstanding, lol.)