“You’re not a failure, you’re smart”

Welcome to an epic From the Mouth of Manfriend.

On Friday Manfriend and I made a long-planned trip to Grouse Mountain to do the Grouse Grind.  I had the sniffles and wasn’t feeling 100%, but I thought “2.9 km, that can’t be too bad.”

Manfriend helpfully reminded me “It’s 2.9km with an elevation gain of 2,800 feet that is made up of 2,830 stairs.”

Me: “I can do it.” *cough, hack, sniffle*

We ended up going up the mountain. I had cancelled hiking on Manfriend the last three weeks so I think I was mainly sucking it up for the most part to prove I wasn’t going to ditch him while hiking. He remained silent and never once said anything on the matter, so I’m not sure why I felt I had to a) go hiking while sick and b) tackle this beast.

Grouse Grind Stats:
(all information about the Grind is from here)

2.9 km trail up the face of Grouse Mountain, commonly referred to as “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster” (you think that would have tipped me off).

See? Stairs. Lots of them.

There is a disclaimer on the site: This trail is very challenging. Keep in mind there is a wide range of mountaintop trails that might better suit the average hiker. (At this point I thought: I’m a runner, I have the cardio — yes, but note that the muscle group required for climbing is different — and also if all these tourists can do it I can too)

A note about the tourists: Most go about a third of the way up and come back down. Which is not allowed. Which may or may not have been something I did. *darty eyes*

Trail Facts
Length: 2.9 kilometres (1.8 miles)
Elevation Gain: 853 metres (2,800 feet)
Base: 274 metres above sea level (900 feet)
Summit: 1,127 metres (3,700 feet)
Total Stairs: 2,830

Statistics: Annually, over 100,000 people hike the trail.
Average Time: On average it takes up to an hour and a half to complete the hike. For novice hikers, two hours is recommended.
Participants: Hikers range in age from 7 to 90, with an equal male/female split

Grouse Take One: A Lesson in “Quitting”

Manfriend and I happily set out on our journey at about 10:45am. We weren’t in a rush, but that meant we caught all the tourists for the day. There was a cool wolf habitat where no wolves were (a lot of people were around, which is probably why).  And, a Starbucks!

This is the closest thing to a real wolf I saw. Its not even a wolf

There are people who climb this thing multiple times every summer, and time themselves with the chips you can purchase online or at the guest services.  The fastest time for a male is just over 23 minutes. The fastest official time (at the mountain race every year) was set by the same male and was 24 something.  The fastest time for a female was 31 minutes. These people are nutters.

It was a cloudy day which was good because on a hot day it would have been worse. Note: The 80 year old woman and her husband who passed me — kudos to you. I highly doubt you’ll ever come across this blog but man you guys are fit. The couple is trying to break an hour.

Manfriend and I set out up the trail to find this giant sign releasing anybody of any liability, and prohibiting dogs from being on the trail (rule followed) and people from going down (rule not followed but I also cannot complain because that would make me a hypocrite.. I’m sorry!)

I am not short. I am 5’7. The sign is giant.

So we started climbing up. I took a few breaks here and there, and Manfriend, who although has less cardio is much more of a hiker than I am, was just patiently following me. He didn’t say anything the first stop, or the second, or the time I asked him why he didn’t bring kleenex, or the time I found out he actually did cause he loves me. He kept being like “We will just go at your pace, that’s nice for me, usually I have to keep up with Jared and Brett.” Note: Jared and Brett are his hiking buddies.

See all the way down there, that tiny white patch in between trees? That’s where we started. This is less than 1/10th of the way up.

Let’s just say I completely underestimated this mountain, that the trail was all stairs, and overestimated my athletic ability while fighting a fever and cold.

It was at this point when I saw the tree that said 1/4 that I sat to rest for the seventeenth time in less than half an hour.  I was hopeful that we were further along, but coughing up a storm under a bush. This guy stopped to talk to us, he was pretty cool and heading down (even though you’re not supposed to he does it every week) and suggested we do too. I’m not surprised, considering I looked like this.

Sick Amalia and Manfriends shirt/bag

I was climbing for a latte, but then even that wasn’t motivating enough. So Manfriend and I pow-wowwed. We could head up another 3/4 with another bajillion stops, or we break the down rule and go down. I said I would try for another 1/4 of the trail but then there was the half way up half way down scenario.

In the end we went down. I still got my latte, but I was not happy. I wanted to do the Grind! I was so disappointed. But luckily, Manfriend fixed that.

Me: “I feel like such a failure”
Manfriend: “You’re training for a half marathon and you’re sick. You’re not a failure, you’re smart”

I instantly felt better. I learned a lot from this attempted climb and still got in an hour of working out.  Last year’s Amalia wouldn’t have even left the house to TRY, and she definitely wouldn’t have made it a quarter of the way up the mountain.

I look forward to conquering this beast when I’m healthy, it doesn’t affect my ability to train, and then you’ll see pictures from the top. But I learned a lesson in quitting today: sometimes, its smart.

I also learned that in addition to a super supportive boyfriend, it helps to look at pictures of cute kittens.


Also, to all you grinders, I’m sorry I went down. But I’m less sorry than I would normally be, because having me passed out across the trail probably would have been harder for you to get around!

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10 responses to ““You’re not a failure, you’re smart”

  1. WOW! That’s quite a climb. That looks like something I’d like to try and tackle some day. Hopefully not while sick. 😉 You were smart to turn around though, high elevation+cough=sick for a long time.

    Any you’re also correct that kittens make everything better!

    Hope you’re feeling better. 🙂

  2. let me know when you’re feeling well enough to try again! I haven’t done the grind in a few years.. the gazillion tourists taking up the trail keep me away haha 🙂
    You and Manfriend should try hiking the Chief in Squamish, if you haven’t already. It’s way more fun (and interesting) than the busy staircase that is the grind!

    Also. if it makes you feel any better, my boyfriend is a smoker. I am a runner. He can out-hike me ANY day, without even getting the slightest bit out of breath!!! SO not fair. He says it’s because he lived in the rockies for 10 years… evidently us Ontario-born folk aren’t so.. acclimatized haha!

    • It does make me feel better that your boyfriend (a smoker no less) can out hike you (and you are way more fit than me)!

      We should tackle it someday this fall when it is still relatively warm out!

  3. Grind on! Thanks for such a witty account of the Grouse climb — gotta’ love those 80-year-olds! Especially like your reference to “last year’s Amalia.” We loved her, and we love this grinding, yoga-ing, marathoning Amalia even more!

  4. I look at kittens when I’m down too! Manfriend is awesome – you are smart – eyes on the prize and don’t worry about a hike that will be there again when you actually feel good! xx

  5. Oh man, I’ve heard about the Grouse Grind. While it may be disappointing that you headed down, I do think that you are being smart. You can always try and do it again but it’s not worth risking your health or injuring yourself. Hope you are feeling better!

  6. Pingback: Pictovation | Live. Travel. Eat. Run

  7. Pingback: Winners and the cursed half marathon | Live. Travel. Eat. Run

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