The Grind as the locals call it, or the Grouse Grind, or Nature's Stairmaster, is a 2.9km hike up the face of Grouse Mountain. 

The website warns that this is a seriously difficult trail and that there are perhaps better options for the "average hiker."   People take on average an hour and a half to climb the 2,830 stairs and gain 2,800ft of elevation.  You can always tell the locals from the tourists - and there are about half and half this time of year. (Record is 23 minutes!)  The locals carry nothing - maybe a water bottle, and are wearing workout clothes and runners - in other words, they know what they are in for.  The tourists have no idea that this is not a scenic hike, but an intense, nausea-inducing sort of satisfying torture.  They are often spotted having a break on the side of the trail, often in jeans, and sometimes even mini-skirts and high heels.  I must say props to them.  I find it noticeably harder to go from Vibrams to proper runners... I don't think I could even do it in heels.  Mind you I can't do much in heels.... 

These are Vibrams by the way (on the right) - basically gloves for your feet, and the most fantastic things in the world... well apart from straight old bare feet, but these provide a little protection from the elements.  

So back to the Grind.  Hikers first came to the mountain in 1894 - a hunting party found (and shot) a blue grouse here and named the mountain after the bird.  It wasn't until 1981 that the local mountaineering club started following the steep animal paths and established some semblance of the trail we know today.  

The grind is something I do purely for the intense workout, that and my competitive nature always pushing me to get a better time.  I used to do it in 45 minutes back in the days when I ran a lot more, so I would like to get back to that point.   By the end of the summer.... and by the end of next summer, maybe beat the standing women's record of 31:04?  hmmm.... aim high right? 

There are quite a few social rules to doing the grind.  For example, I had to tell my mom that I do not talk when I do the grind.  Seriously, it is not a socializing time - if you want to socialize, go do one of the much, much more enjoyable hikes on the North Shore.  And if you are in a group there is the tricky situation of differing physical abilities.  It is very frustrating for me to have someone who is in much better shape than me wait every few minutes for me to catch up and then go dart ahead before I even have a chance to catch my breath.... This type of situation happened once on a date once - I have never sworn so much (luckily he was a good sport and took it well).  Either make it look like you are at my pace too and walk with me, or just leave me behind entirely and meet me at the top.    Ok enough ranting. 

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