They’re powerful, exciting and endlessly dramatic. The proverbial emotional rollercoaster with dizzying highs and crushing lows. Have I mentioned that I happen to have one with the Grouse Grind? It’s been going on for years and seems to only be getting stronger as time goes by.
On the one hand, I love the forest. The scent of the trees and bright green moss growing along the side of the trail create the sweetest, freshest air to breathe into your hard-working lungs as you huff and puff your way up the mountain. Nature’s aromatherapy. The intense beauty of the forest also never ceases to amaze me. Especially on a misty, foggy afternoon when the path looks exactly like the enchanted forest of my favourite childhood fairy tale. Who wouldn’t love an enchanted forest?
On the other hand, there’s the actual issue of the climb. I haven’t quite experienced anything like it on any other trail (thank goodness). It’s almost straight up the mountain at times and there is no reprieve. No flat stretch to catch your breathe and psych yourself up for the next punishing climb. Nope, none of that. Just full-on, straight up. Switchbacks are non-existent here. And every time I find myself back on the Grind, I question my sanity as I make my way along what seems like a never-ending vertical trail. “What is wrong with me?” my internal voice shrieks. “There are so many more beautiful, more sane hikes in BC. Why do I keep torturing myself with this one? This is it. I mean it this time. Never again!” I repeat a version of this over and over again as I crawl over rocks and roots on my journey through hell, unfortunately knowing on some level that, like a co-dependant lover, no matter what I say, I’ll probably be back for more.
I finally emerge from the woods, panting, glistening with sweat and smeared with a good bit of dirt. I plop to the ground, gulp the last of my water, catch my breathe, wipe my brow and, finally, take a look around.
And what I see is magnificent. A beautiful Atlantis sparkles below me. The sun is starting to set and it is stunning to see from the top of Grouse. I also have a sweet sense of accomplishment. I did it. I made it to the top! And, in a flash, all of the nasty, hateful thoughts of the past 1 hour and 20 minutes are gone, and all I’m left with is love.
And the cycle begins again.