Because it was there.
I took advantage of a business meeting in Seattle by flying out the weekend before to head up Vancouver way and get down with some Canucks and freebase some back bacon. Unfortunately, my timing kind of sucked – it was too early to ski or snowboard and too rainy to hit the mountain bike trails. And although the US dollar is recovering a bit, those Canadian hookers are still on the high side.
Instead, I packed my hiking boots and decided to do some line dancing in Calgary. Or hiking in North Vancouver. Yeah, that sounds better.
I did some research and determined I should check out Lynn Canyon and Grouse Mountain. Lynn Canyon supposedly had a suspension bridge, a cool creek and some decent trails. Grouse Mountain had The Grind, slutty teenage girls and Romanian prostitutes. Oh, sorry, that’s myspace.
My plane touched down quite nicely late Friday night at 9 pm. I got my rental car and after putting on my tire chains I started north. I checked into my hotel a little after midnight and on the lobby wall was a picture of none other than my hero Shania Twain, celebrating her stay at that very hotel in 2003. I could barely sleep knowing that I could be sharing a bed with her. I was hoping they hadn’t changed the sheets in the last five years. Eventually I dozed off with images of her Any Man of Mine video dancing through my head.
I arose refreshed and downed my protein shake (not a euphemism) mixed with the new dark chocolate raspberry flavored frappacino. It was raining, but Shania had inspired me to conquer the Grouse Grind that day and not even a rabid Eskimo could stop me.
The Grind is a trail that goes straight up the side of Grouse Mountain. It gains 2,800 feet over a short 1.8 miles. As a point of reference, the mighty Sears Tower is 1,450 feet tall. So it would be like putting a rickety wood ladder up against the Sears Tower and climbing to the top. Twice. In the rain. While juggling, doing a tap dance and singing the Catalina Magdalena Lupensteiner Wallabeiner song. But I digress.
There are numerous accounts of people having to be rescued each year while attempting the climb. Mostly overweight men in halter-tops and stripper shoes bringing along a 40 of Olde English Ale for hydration. Told you Canada is a weird place. I had planned ahead and was wearing my moisture-wicking halter-top base layer under my waterproof shell and ditched my stripper shoes for my hiking boots. I notified the local press that I would be attempting to break the trail record of 24 minutes and 22 seconds in case they wanted to cover it live or interview me at the top.
After what seemed like an hour of hiking, burning legs and a maxed out heart rate, I saw a sign indicating the ¼ point. I checked my watch and saw it had only been 20 minutes. I considered setting up a base camp and taking on the rest the following day, but my hotel room was already paid for and I forgot the bring the blueprints for a lean-to shelter so I ventured upward. As promised, it got steeper.
During this leg, I continued to get passed regularly by other hikers. Including a man carrying a baby on his back. I was moving as if I were carrying an imaginary refrigerator on my back. Not one of those mini dorm room fridges, but a nice stainless steel Viking side-by-side fridge with an ice dispenser and built-in plasma television. Eventually, I saw the ½ point marker. I found a log and had a seat before my heart, pounding as fast and loud as a bass drum at a Slayer concert, gave out in a wet, messy sort of explosion. As hikers continued to approach and pass me, I sucked in a deep breath and offered a pleasant “good morning” so as not to alarm them with my distress. After about 10 minutes, I ventured upward. As promised, it got steeper.
During this leg, my butt became number than a sub with a spanking fetish and my neck cramped from looking up to the trail ahead. Hikers continued to pass, including a couple women who looked like they stepped out of a Mop n’ Glo commercial and a man about the same age as John McCain. I tried not to become discouraged as I was positive I must have missed the ¾ point marker. Unfortunately, about 10 minutes later I came upon the said ¾ marker, and made another pit stop where dementia began setting in and I started to strip off my clothes and sing Celine Dion songs. This prompted an attack by a flock of nearby grouse (hence the name of the mountain), and I was sent scrambling for my clothes and abandoned my set list. I ventured upward. As promised, it got steeper.
Surprisingly, the last ¼ didn’t seem as long or painful. Same thing I used to hear from sex partners. Finally, I emerged from the trail and onto a paved driveway circling the lodge at the top of the mountain. I cried a bit. Because I accidentally shot myself in the eye with the pepper spray I was carrying to fend off bears. After it wore off, I spent a half hour wandering the trails and exhibits and enjoying the best view of Vancouver from anywhere on the North Shore.
Realizing that rolling down the mountain side is probably not the safest or most effective method to get back down, they sell one-way tickets back down on the tram for a mere $5 Canadian. I think that’s something like $1.23 US so I took them up on their offer and enjoyed the ride back to the parking lot below.
My time was 1 hour, 20 minutes. I only missed the record by 56 minutes. Fortunately, the press was busy covering a girl scout cookie sale that day and didn’t show up for my failed attempt. But I’ll get the record next time.