Grouse Grind

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Grouse Grind: Vancouver Tuesday 28 June

The Grouse Grind is a gut busting 2.9 kilometre hike up Grouse Mountain. It has 2830 steps, an elevation gain of 853 metres (2800 feet) and has a 52 degree incline.

Training for this hike should include lunges, squats and intense cardio, that is. being able to work out at 80 to 100 percent of your heart rate for an hour.

The website recommended an average time to complete the hike is between one and a half and two hours. Hubby, who is slightly competitive, had the goal of completing it in the hour and a half time frame. My goal was to finish alive!

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Off hubby scampered, ironically passing the sign that said you are better to be a tortoise than a hare. He didn’t want me to hold him back. I was recovering from a hip injury and I was likely to be slow. I happily told my hare to go ahead and I would hopefully see him at the top. Well, I don’t have to tell you how the story ends. In this version, the tortoise came in under the 1.5 hours (1.24), twelve minutes ahead of the hare!

The view of Vancouver at the top was worth the grind, once our heart rates had slowed and we could catch enough breath enough to ooh and ahh over it! The climb is so steep they ask you not to go back down. It’s too dangerous and could cause serious damage to knees and ankles. So the only other option for descent was the Sky Tram. I think they crammed in about 100 people into the carriage and many of us had done the hike. I felt sorry for those who hadn’t. No showers and clean T-shirts to change into at the top.

 

The view from the Sky Tram gave us a perspective on how far we had hiked and how steep it was.

 

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Some do the hike several times a week. It’s how they train (according to one conversation I was eavesdropping on). A Kiwi mountain runner, Johnathon Wyatt held the record for six years at 24.22. He did this time when visiting Vancouver in 2004. However, Sebastian Salas holds the official course record of 25.01 set in 2010. Unofficially he has run it in just over 23 minutes. The fact that people actually run it is beyond my comprehension.

At 5 pm, rested, showered and not wanting to waste a moment, we headed off to a clothing outlet by the airport (needed some jeans for both of us). Classic tourist mistake, we forgot to factor in rush hour. There were so many people crammed onto the train, it felt like one of those competitions where you see how may people you can fit in a telephone box. One woman’s bag got stuck in the train door as she tried to fit into the only space left. A kind man prised the doors open just enough to release the bag as the train started moving off. It could have ended badly.

That said, the public transport in Vancouver is great. It is efficient, inexpensive and there are so many ways to get around, including a sea bus (ferry) that takes you across the harbour to connect with a bus on the other side. Everything runs like clockwork. Staff are friendly and obliging, some even explained how we could save some money. Stuff you would only know as a local. So far, we have found the service in Canada across a number of industries to be first class.

I ordered an old fashioned shandy to have with dinner tonight. The waiter looked puzzled when I made this request so I explained “half beer half lemonade.” He thought he could do that. He came back with my shandy and it was half beer and half lemonade. But not our lemonade, which is their Sprite. It was a lemon flavoured drink he had mixed with the beer. I was gutted. I had been thinking of the shandy for a while and what I got didn’t cut it! Even English speakers have language barriers from time to time.

Sunrise here is at 5.10am and sunset 9.21pm so the days are long and are going to get longer as we head to Alaska. We have to be on the boat by 3pm tomorrow for the life boat drill. Guess who won’t be late! On a positive note, I figure that after today I have some calorie credits for the cruise. Whoopee.

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