The Grouse Grind®

If reading that phrase doesn’t make you shiver in fear or instinctively rub an old thigh injury in memory – then you’ve never completed one of Vancouver’s toughest challenges: The Grind.

What is it: Hikers, looking for a challenging and aerobic hiking route in Vancouver, wandered off the sensible and beaten trail and instead followed the paths more commonly taken by mountain goats and those people in horror movies who get killed off first (ie hikers). Essentially, a steep route was conjured out of rocks, wood and hope and then officially called the Grouse Grind®.  Strenuous, unstable, and treacherous; it’s still somehow considered ‘fun for the whole family’ (bring the family goat!).

uhhh.. I'll just wait for billy to lead us...

A Vancouver right of passage, at one point or another, everyone has either done the grind or knows several people who have (hmmm this kinda reminds of a guy I used to date…)

Grouse Grind® Stats:

  • Length:   2.9 kilometres (1.8 miles)
  • Elevation: 853 metres (2,800 feet)
  • Total Stairs: 2,830 QTY
  • Statistics: Annually, over 100,000 people hike the Grind™.
  • Average Time: Up to 90 minutes to complete the hike; Novice hikers up to 2 hours

Getting the invite to do the grind from a motivating friend (I take my grouse grind invites as challenges!!), I sort of agreed with a large chance of backing out. I was more interested in shopping downtown, brunching uptown or movie watching on a comfy couch – all equal calorie burners. (Unfortunately calories = 0)

I meet up with my grind challenger and complain about real pain (my plantar fasciitis) and false pain (cuz I just don’t WANNA!!). My motivator/challenger gives me a cold stare and lets me vent my fears and frustrations. As a person who happily climbed 700+ stairs for charity (fuelled by leftover vodka and gin) if I dread the grind then you know it’s a tough one.  I even offered to pay for brunch, lunch or new tattoos (let’s get matching unicorns!) to get out of doing the grind but in the end, I was packed onto a bus headed North to the mountains.

Last time I did the grind, (curiously, also fuelled by leftover Grey Goose and Bombay Sapphire), I completed it in a paltry time of 58 minutes. This time, no longer partaking in sweet, delicious booze (sweet, delicious booze. So worth repeating), I was instead fuelled by a bachelor’s breakfast of fudge-o cookies and leftover frozen pizza. Yes, a breakfast of champions (bowling champions).  As I was aiming to beat the recently achieved record of 23minutes set by some punk 23-year-old tourist, I had a long ways to go.

Reaching the bottom of the mountain and thus the start of the grind, I check my cell for the time (hell o’clock) and get to climbing.

Maybe it won't be so bad this time...

Just in case you didn’t get the many hints – the grind is hard. A few minutes in and I’m already breathing heavy. The thing about doing a long, hard workout, and doing it for a long, hard time is you have to try and motivate yourself. Making that task more difficult are the 5 stages of hard, physical labour you have to go through:

STAGE 1: Denial (@ the happy beginning)

This is easy! I can do this! I’m gonna kick this mountain’s ass! Only 2.9 vertical miles? Puh-lease.
Heck, make it 4 miles! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

I can do this in 22 minutes. Tops!
Woo me!

STAGE 2: Anger (AKA @ the 1/4 way mark)

Whose @#*+ bright idea was it to make this stupid hill anyway?  “I know, let’s nail some random wood blocks down the side of a cliff we’ll call a mountain and the people will come”. Stupid people will come. And pay $10 for the chance too. Whine!! I could so go for a poutine right now but instead I’m stuck on this damn rockslide with these other health conscious morons and my “motivator” is about 5 mins back. WAY TO MOTIVATE me you jerk! When I get to the top I’m going to motivate my foot up your ass!

STAGE 3: Bargaining (AKA the halfway point)

Ok. I’ll go a few steps further. If I do the whole grind, I can celebrate with a face full of poutine. See? This is how you stay fit. You want a cup of ice cream? Do the grind. You want a plate of poutine? Do the grind…twice. Not a problem. Just take a few more steps and then you can relax at the top.

STAGE 4: Depression (AKA the halfway point)

You mean I’m only halfway done and I have to do all that AGAIN??? Why me? Why did I think I could do this? All these little steps just keep leading to more steps. What’s the point? Maybe I’ll just let the authorities find my curled up body in a ditch over there. They should be able to locate me by the fire and all the smoke coming off my burning thighs…

STAGE 5: Acceptance (AKA the 3/4 way mark)

Dear merciful Jesus, Allah, Buddha, and crazy Don Cherry.  Just please, oh please, help this pour soul get through this.  I promise to do whatever it says in those great books written about you if you’ll help me.  Yes, even the stuff in the back. Please give me the strength to finish this climb and to please, Please, PLEASE have enough strength left in my body in the end to raise my arms high above so that I may smack my motivator across the face. Twice.

Amen/ Praise Allah/ Namaste / Go Leafs Go.

Who 'built' this??? And WHY!?

Like a bad first date, you go into it with positive thoughts, dread it the whole time you’re there, and are completely relieved when it’s over. You also get kind of sweaty.

So after all that blood, sweat and tears, how did I do?

62 $%&# minutes! 4 minutes slower than my booze/guilt inspired first attempt.  Humph!

Personally, I blame the fudge-o. 😉


Phew! Nothing about still being drunk, woo!

Not in Vancouver but want to experience the grind for yourself? Just go to your average 2,830+ step staircase, take a hammer to many of the steps to give them a rustic look, then cover the entire staircase in loose rocks, sand and water (just to add some fun potential for serious accidents and possible death) and voila: your very own Grouse Grind! Don’t forget to time yourself.

photo source 1/ photo source 2/photo source 3

2 thoughts on “The Grouse Grind®

  1. Haha! I have never done the Grind. Never will. Your post had solidified my life choice. As my friend says, “If God had intended for us to do the Grouse Grind, He would never have built a perfectly good gondola.” I live by that mantra.

    My favourite line is, “When I get to the top I’m going to motivate my foot up your ass!”

  2. lol! I’m glad you like. I’m always happiest when teh grind is done but man is it hell on the way up. I would definitely recommend you try it sometime. 😉

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