Grouse Grind

Grind it out at the Grouse Grind in Vancouver, British Columbia

Welcome to Mother Nature’s Stairmaster. On paper, the 2.9 km trail hardly seems daunting. However, when you get to the foot of the Grouse Grind and realize that it comes with its own “you might die” warnings, it starts to sink in that this might be more than a leisurely stroll.

Grouse Grind

“Hikers using these trails assume all risk of personal injury, death or property loss…” Comforting.

Between you and the summit of of the mountain lies some 2,800 uneven, rock and wooden steps that take you up 853 pain-filled metres. Be sure to time yourself or buy a Grind Timer Card that you swipe at the base and at the top to track your results.

My own journey up the face of the lactic acid-producing mountain looked something like this:

  • Step 1: This is going to be awesome.
  • Step 100: Oh dear lord, what did I get myself into?
  • Step 150: OK, time for a quick break.
  • Step 155: Yep. Need another break.
  • Step 700: [upon seeing the 1/4 way marker] They’re joking, right?
  • Step 800: Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow.
  • Step 1,000: [sobbing]
  • Step 1,400: [upon seeing the 1/2 way marker] F#@% you [more sobbing]
  • Step 1,600: I wonder how they’re going to get my corpse out of here? I feel bad for the paramedics.

By step 2,100 however, upon seeing the 3/4 marker, a strange thought bubbled to the surface: I might finish this thing…

grouse grind

My legs were on fire, I wanted to puke and I could barely see through the sweat in my eyes. But somehow I was still able to push myself forward. Partly because my baby sister finished the grind and I didn’t want her to mock me. Partly because there was no way in hell I was going back down 2,000 steps. And partly because in some sick way I was starting to get a rush from the challenge.

Grouse Grind

That rush drove me the final several hundred steps. My time was nothing to brag about, but finishing it was reward enough. And the best news? There was a gondola at the top waiting to take me back down.

So if you find yourself in Vancouver and are looking for a challenge, pop over to Grouse Mountain and get your grind on.

Josh Martin
Josh Martin is the creative force behind Badge of Awesome. He is the author of "Misadventure Musings: Lessons learned from life's awesome and absurd moments" and "The Overcoming Obstacles Handbook."

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