Thursday, April 23, 2009

090422 - Taste of Grouse Grind

I had a wonderful chance to be on my first business trip to Vancouver for one week. I worked hard and did some running for the first few days. I may write stories on them, but on Wednesday ....

I did not went to Trans Canada Trail section in Burnaby since it was said it might be flat. Just kidding, but I was thinking between running in North Shore or strolling in Vancouver downtown to see if I can buy some souvenir for my family after being away for a week.

When I wrapped up my work and got back to my hotel, I decided to go to Grouse Grind. It was about 6:30pm and I quickly changed into my running gears. Off I went and I did not get lost for the first time, thanks to carefully and repetitively studying the direction before I left.

Entering Grouse Grind

Finding a FREE parking, just next to the pay parking lot, I was glad to made there and also saw the Baden-Powell trail sign, but sadden in no time when I was told and saw the sign that the trail is closed.

The trail was closed.

I got a tip from other snow athletes that there is a trail nearby to get into. I had no difficulty to find the entrance - Wow! it's a steep climb up that I imagined it the entrance to "Trail From the Hell" at the roadside. Whatever, just go!

But there was a "backdoor", class 3- climbing?

As I went up, after giving up running on it, I thought that it would be more difficult going down. At the top, I quickly found a real trail nearby. It's the Grouse Grind trail winding up from the other side of the fence, which stopped here. I now went on the Grouse Grind. It was steep with stairs, just like the trails in Taiwan, an island of the size as Florida but with 100+ mountains of over 3000m. I saw a few more signs about the trail closure and the exciting Baden-Powell trail signs along the way.

The trail - steep, rooted rocks, and stairs.

I now remembered a miss - I did not bring my flashlight. I peeked through the deep forest to estimate how much time I had before sun dived into the back of the mountain far away. It certainly would be soon sunset. From a hiker coming down, I understood what I had worked hard for don't-know-how-much time is only a quarter of the trail for I did not carry a watch either. I figured out that I can't get to the top and come down safely without a light. While I kept moving up as quickly as I could, I had to make a decision when to turn around.

Right turn with a bridge ahead

I started to see loose snow field not far away from the trail. I also crossed a simple bridge. The trail was challenging rooted with irregular dodging-ball size rocks and even more, as I imagined, when coming down. Oh well, after I thought I can come back early morning tomorrow, I felt comfortable to be ready to turn around to save my legs. In deed coming down did not make it much faster than going up with fresh legs and aspiration. I had to be very careful not to trip or fall for any fall could have me rest for a few days, which I never liked.

A snow field at the side of the trail

Still I ran into a couple going up. They were prepared, so could kept going without worrying like me. After some time, I started to notice that I should look for the side trail so as not to get to the closed fence on the regular trail. I was usually not good this, but I was lucky this time. I found the trail and started to be on the steep down. I imagined it the rope rappelling in Cascade Crest 100M but without a rope on "easier" surface. Still I had to slowly place my foot at safety spots. With a camera in one hand, I essentially had only one hand left for emergency to grab not-too-many branches in case I lost my footing. Finally, I got down to the ground, i.e. the free parking lot.

Finding my car, I enjoyed the scenery around for moments. It was still bright but, I was afraid, not for next hour. While I thought that I should have gone even further, I was glad to have a taste of Grouse Grind and truly experience the technical trail in Pacific Northwest, compared with which the technical trails in my area were simply too mild, just as I was told the other day.

Crossing on Lion's bridge to enter Vancouver downtown

Since it was still early, I planned to strolling Vancouver downtown by crossing Lion's Bridge for the first time. Remember that everything in this Vancouver trip had been somehow totally new experience to me like being in a country much foreign to me. Keeping my finger crossed, I carefully looked at every traffic sign along the speedy down from Grouse mountain. I came to the bridge without problem and entered the downtown.

The skyscrapers in Vancouver downtown

At one corner after Stanley Park, I spotted a running store and a couple of female runners stretching outside. I thought they are ready for a group run and I had a urge to join them, but I had difficulty finding a free parking. Not that I was cheap (I indeed try to save $$ once in a while), but I had only little Canadian money. As I returned to the same corner after some time, they were gone. I had to continue to return to hotel as a quick decision. Along the way, I drove into Gastown and Chinatown to have a glimpse of them so I could return to visit them later.

It was nice to return to the hotel so "early" - before 9pm. I had all my time. After a shower, I found TV was not so interesting, so I got back to my book - War and Peace. I had read it for more than a month and I brought it along in this trip. I had not read it when I arrived since I read in in the flight. Now it's time to pick it up so that I won't forget the story at my last page. I guessed it was the whole day work that my eyes were sore after an hour or so. I also finished the leftover from our delicious "Penne..." pasta. I decided to go to sleep early since the network access in the hotel room was down.

I was hoping to get up at 4am so that I could finish Grouse Grind before work. However, I wanted to sleep more. I missed the time today. I had good time finishing a few more pages in my book.

Still hope to finish Grouse Grind before coming back California on Saturday.


miki said...

Hi Chihping. Nice adventure you had!

Courtney said...

Grouse Grind seems like such a cool trail! I hope you get a chance to get it done before you leave.

Jo Lynn said...

Hello! Thanks for taking care of my favorite trail today! Nice to meet you. ;)

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