Grouse Grind & Crown Mountain


In the time between living in Ottawa and moving into my new place in Victoria, I’ve spent a couple of days with my brother Eric. For those of you who don’t know Eric, picture a tall, grown-up version of Calvin (from Calvin & Hobbes) with a penchant for doing asinine things despite being smart enough to build a robot. Don’t understand it? Don’t worry, I don’t either, and I’ve spent 19 years around the kid.

So while I was still in Ottawa, he asked me what I’d like to do during my weekend in Vancouver. I answered that we should go on a hike, since I hadn’t gone for a hike in ages. Now technically I guess that means I asked for it, but you’d think that when someone says they haven’t gone hiking “in ages,” you’d assume that they are unable to climb one mountain happily, let alone two.

But no, Eric decided that a fun Sunday activity would include not only climbing the Grouse Grind (“Let’s try and do it in under 50 minutes this time!” he and his Hulkishly-fit girlfriend exclaimed), but Crown Mountain as well. If you’ve never been up the Grouse Grind before, the only way I can describe it is as 2,830 steps of agony etched into the side of Grouse. Eric annoyed me by being able to have a nice little phone conversation with his buddy while he took the steps two-by-two. When I finally got to the top, I said (or gasped, whatever), “That’s the worst mountain I’ve ever climbed.”

His response? “That wasn’t a mountain. It was stairs.” This was the first in a long line of what I’ve come to call Eric’s Encouraging Words of Wisdom, which made me want to punch him in the face by the end of our hike.

By the end of the Grouse Grind, I was so happy that I’d made it to the top that I’d forgotten we were climbing Crown Mountain as well. Luckily for Eric’s girlfriend, she got to leave and go home at this point.

Not me. No such luck.

Now, to get to Crown Mountain, you have to go down the other side of Grouse for a while, and then climb Crown. While you do that, you encounter lovely things, such as chains that have been tacked into the mountain to help you pull yourself up, ninja roots that sneak up on you and trip you, pesky bugs, and (my personal favourite) snow. Had I known we would be trekking across vertical shit-tons of snow when we headed out on this sunny August day hike, I wouldn’t have worn my Nike Frees, which have the approximate traction of a Slip ‘n Slide.

However, thanks to Eric’s encouragement, I somehow managed to make it to the rocky peak of Crown Mountain and back down. I’ll end this post by sharing a few of his rallying words with you (I should really make one of those inspirational daily quote calendars):

  • “You’re as stable as a pig on skates.”
  • Me: “That guy who said it was only 30 minutes left till the top lied to us.”
    Eric: “Yeah, well, he didn’t know how slow you are.”
  • Eric: “Hurry up.”
    Me: “Fuck you.” (My answer to about 50% of the things he said)
    Eric: “Pretend a bear is chasing you.”
    Me: “Go on without me.”
    Eric: “Yeah sure, see you on the news.”
  • Me: “Everyone else on this trail looks so… clean.”
    Eric: “That’s because most of them haven’t spent the majority of their time falling down, like you have.”
  • Eric (several times): “You’re going the wrong way.”


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