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THE GROUSE GRIND: “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster” Provides A Challenging But Soothing Spiritual Experience”

“What is  this  life  if  full of care. We have no time to stand and stare.”

By Gian Singh Kotli

Vancouver is Canada’s most beautiful city and it has many beautiful attractions for the visitors. A visit to the amazing Grouse Mountain and the steep climb of its Grouse Grind is a great attraction for health lovers, enthusiasts and adventurers who come here from all over the world in large numbers in summer. It is advertised as “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster”.

Grouse Mountain perched 4100 feet above Vancouver is popularly called the Peak of Vancouver and is accessible only by Sky ride (Cable Bus), which can carry up to 100 passengers at a time to the top in six minutes. The other way to reach the extremely steep mountain is to go for the adventure of trudging the most strenuous Grouse Grind trail on foot. The narrow and hazardous 3 KM trail starting from near the Bus Terminal to the top of Grouse Mountain has its own distinct fascination for adventurers and nature loving hikers. The hike to the top really tests your physical strength and it can virtually grind your body and muscles. That is why it is named Grind or Grouse Grind. Generally the hikers complain that it is too steep but still it is irresistible for enthusiasts who like hardships and adventure. According to the Federation of Mountain Clubs of British Columbia (FMCBC) each year at least 100,000 people climb this Grind on their own risk.

It was a sunny Tuesday on August 30, 2011 and to enjoy it all the more I thought of heading to Grouse Mountain and go for some tough exercise by climbing the Grouse Grind. Despite my careful and slow trudging and usual sharing of Hallo with children, young and elderly people, I finished it in 2 hours time which is deemed quite satisfactory for a senior citizen. Time does not matter. What matters is that you must attempt it for the sake of your health and enjoying natural beauty. The Grind has roughly 2850 stairs (steps).

The trail to the mountain top is very gruesome due to its nearly 45 degree average uphill ascent winding up its way through un-hewn rock and  stone steps, tree roots and wooden steps. Some places have no steps, only rough rocks. It is estimated to be 2.9 or 3 KM long but it is difficult to say precisely about its length because of its vertical nature.

About 40 number signs have been fixed on the trees to guide the hikers about the distance they have covered. Starting almost from one third of the trial, the deep canyon on the right seems to ascend along us for quite a long distance putting up a scary sight of the wilderness if you look too much on the right. Yellow ropes have been tied to the tree trunks at some vulnerable points to ward off the risk of slipping down. Also you need to watch your footing as some steps are quite high and tumbling requiring a handhold.

Time to reach the top varies from one hour to two hours or more, depending on your physical fitness. But quite amazingly the fastest Grouse Grind climbing record of 24.22 was set by Jonathan Wyatt of New Zealand on June 12, 2004 and Michael Simpson holds the official record of 26:18 set on September 23, 2007 for the Grouse Grind Mountain Run that is organized annually by BMO Bank of Montreal. Sebastian Salas 23 set a new record of 25 minutes and one second on September 20, 2010 in this Run.

It is that Vancouver realtor Sebastian Albrecht 33 virtually performed a miracle when he set a new record by climbing Grouse Grind 13 times and climbed 37.7 kilometers in a day on June 22, 2009.

It is also amazing that as you reach the Peak Chalet on the mountain top having nice eating and souvenir stores, your Grind fatigue is gone. The entire area of about 1 KM from Chalet to the highest top on the North where windmill “The Eye of the Wind” is installed is smoke free and environmentally maintained. Several entertainment shows, smiling young girls and boys on all counters, and free uphill Sky ride to the windmill make you leave your stress and strain behind. It is better to spare some time to enjoy this heaven on earth.

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