We are two individuals, sister-in-laws, and friends who are striving to thrive and be our personal best as well as making our surroundings a better place to live! Connected by faith, family, friendship, photos, and writing, we just want to share our journey with you!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Grouse Grind! Do it for the kids!

Hello! I know it's been way too long but I have been taking some time off to explore Vancouver and enjoy some quality time with my beautiful family before Dan's first year of med-school starts! EEK! We have been blessed to have been given the opportunity to spend this summer not working and have had an amazing time! I am sure that the summers to follow will be filled with reality (working), so we have really just cherished every moment spent together as a family!

Now that we are all settled into our Vancouver life, I have been running lots (a great way to explore a new city), and have even ventured into hiking! I haven't just done a leisure hike either! I had heard about Grouse Mountain (located in North Vancouver), from friends before and I had heard a lot of hype about the Grouse Grind which is a trail that takes you through a steep terrain up to the Grouse Mountain peak! I am used to running longer distances so when I read that the trail was only 2.9km long I thought "Piece of cake"...just to let you know: it's NOT! In fact, hiking the Grouse Grind is the opposite of a walk in the park! I loved every sweaty minute of it of course! There are 2,830 stairs along the way and an elevation gain of 2,800 ft!!!! I was told that the hike takes on average an hour and a half to complete but of course the crazy competitive nature in me kicked in and I was determined to hike at a continual, brisk pace.

While Noah was napping one afternoon, I drove to the base and began my hike! I started faster thinking that it was only 2.9km and I think that the runner in me was thinking that I should sprint!!! HahaHA! I quickly realized that I was no pro-hiker (I run and walk a lot carrying a 32lb toddler but I don't hike), so I slowed to a power-hike! I passed this older man who was in wicked shape and learned at the end that he is an avid hiker from Seattle who comes here every year just to hike the Grouse Grind! With the crazy terrain, I spent the entire hike looking down to make sure that I didn't fall (especially after seeing paramedics and firefighters, carrying down a woman who had injured herself, and then I saw a memorial set-up)...this was serious! I didn't stop once, although there were many people (much saner than I clearly am), who were enjoying their hike much more and basking in the mountains' beauty). My reasoning for not stopping was more fear that if I did, I might not start again!

I finished the hike in 48 minutes and instantly felt this feeling of pure happiness and fulfillment! I had wanted to hike the Grouse Grind since I learned about it and felt really proud of the time that I did it in! Of course there were expert hiker/runners who completed it in 28 minutes (male best time for that day), and 33 minutes (female best time for that day), but I was so proud of myself for my time and don't think that I could have possibly gone any faster!!!

It was recommended that you take the SkyRide back down the mountain which is their gondola ride (for a cost of $10 down), because during the summer, the Grind is so busy with hikers and it's so steep that it would wreck havoc on your knees! I was so happy to just relax and take the SkyRide down! The view from the top of the mountain is truly breathtaking and I just felt so thankful to have had that opportunity! I instantly fell in love with Grouse Mountain and the Grouse Grind so I chose to pay for an annual pass which allows me to ride the SkyRide and take Noah to see the two orphaned Grizzly Bears and wolves in the Nature Sanctuaries they have! There are also shows that you can watch (such as a sweet Lumberjack show and Birds of Prey show), and in the winter they have reindeer sleigh rides (Noah will LOVE that)!!!! So I bought my annual pass and now have fallen in love with a new sport that challenges me physically and mentally: hiking!

A few days ago, Dan and I took Noah up to Grouse Mountain so that Dan and I could take turns hiking the Grouse Grind! We could have put up road-blocks and said that it was too hard and complicated for us both to take turns hiking but instead we looked at the day as an adventure! Sure Noah missed his afternoon nap, and Dan and I didn't get to hike the Grind together which would have been amazing, but we both hiked it and completed it and we both felt that endorphin rush that you get upon completing something so crazy-cool! The feeling was exemplified for me the second time around because I knew that my husband was sharing the same experience that I had too! Since I am the annual pass-holder, I took Noah up to the top of the mountain in the SkyRide while Dan hiked first (that way we only had to pay $10 for Dan to ride down the mountain compared to $20)...so while Dan hiked, Noah and I rode the gondola (which he LOVED), and then walked over to see the Grizzly Bear sanctuary. It was the most incredible experience to see these amazing animals (although I wish so much that these two males were free to roam), especially because Noah's nickname is 'bear' and I have so much respect for these creatures! I wrote a previous blog about the Grizzly Bear trophy hunt that happens ironically in the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, and I just hope that by seeing these magnificent animals up close (these two bears were orphaned and deemed unable to live in the wild), people will become more involved with their well-being and be their voice in protecting these animals from inhumane treatment!
While we were there, Noah and I watched as one of the grizzly bears came to the river and submerged himself in the water to cool his 900lb-self from the 30 degree day! He was completely underwater with the exception of his head and one front paw which he often rested his head upon! His nose twitched as an annoying fly pestered him. Finally, he opened his massive mouth and tried to bite at the fly! It was incredible!

Dan and I forgot our camera charger in Victoria so our camera is currently dead and unable to take glorious pictures for posting!!! That being said, I captured a few pictures of the bear and Noah of course (our 'bear'), with my new phone! keep in mind, I don't think that I have 'zoom' and so you might have to play 'where's bear' (like Where's Waldo)!!!! We were really close and obviously these following pictures do no justice to the real thing!

By the time Noah and I finished admiring the Grizzly and walked through a few sprinklers, Dan was finished the Grind (he completed it in 55 minutes), and it was my turn! Dan and Noah settled at the top for some lunch while I rode the SkyRide back to the base to start my hike. It was too hot for a vigorous hike and I was feeling dehydrated from carrying Noah in the heat. I should have consumed more water before starting my hike and hiked at a more leisure pace (preferably later when the temperatures cooled), but it was a now-or-never decision, as Noah wouldn't have lasted too much longer. So I hiked (in 48 minutes again), and was EXHAUSTED and HOTTT by the time I finished!!! Luckily they have a cool mist-tent at the top so I hung out in there and quickly cooled off! My energy soon returned ten-fold and I was so happy for Dan and my accomplishments!

We all rode the gondola to the base and Noah did a mini-hike up this hill to the wolf sanctuary where we all saw our first glimpses of wolves! They were beautiful and it was a neat experience!

My goal is to continue to hike the Grouse Grind at least once/week while the weather is dry (once the rain starts it will become too slippery).

One thing that is really great if you're a local and wanting to hike the Grind a few times, is to consider signing up for the Grind for Kids. You can check-out their website at http://grindforkids.com/
Basically what you can do is get everyone you know to pledge $1 or more for every time you hike the Grouse Grind between June and October and the money raised goes to B.C.'s Children's Hospital! I think this is such a fabulous idea and I only wish that we lived here sooner so that I could have taken part in hiking the Grouse from the beginning of June!

But I am inspired and have decided that it's better late than never so I have signed up for the Grind for Kids!

My goal is to raise $250 for the B.C. Children's Hospital and I am making it my personal goal to hike the Grouse Grind a minimum of 10 times before October! I have hiked it twice so far! If you are interested in pledging $1 or more for each time that I hike the grind, then you can contact me or go to my grouse for kids web-page where you can make a donation and it will show my progress! The website is here: https://secure.bcchf.ca/GrindForKids/main.cfm?GrindForKids=4543

Happy Hiking!

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