Grouse Grind: Lululemon founder among the first to tackle trail in 2019
The popular North Vancouver trek known as "Mother Nature's StairMaster" has officially opened for the 2019 season.
The Grouse Grind reopened Friday morning, and dozens of hikers were already tackling the climb within the first few hours.
Among the eager people passing through the gate was Lululemon founder Chip Wilson.
He said he had back surgery three months ago, so it now takes him over an hour to complete the trail.
"But that's not the point of it. It's the fun I have with the people that I do it with," the 63-year-old said.
When asked what his advice was for recreational Grouse Grinders, he said, "Don't wear polyester shirts, don't wear your dress shoes and wear a long-sleeve shirt that you can wrap around your waist once you get too hot."
He told media at the base of the trail that he likes to do the Grind a few times a week – something others gathered by the gates on opening day said as well.
The gate was opened by Metro Vancouver around 6 a.m., and in the hours since, there's been a steady stream of enthusiastic climbers heading uphill despite the rain.
The trail had officially been closed for the past few months for winter maintenance and other work including rock scaling and the removal of dangerous trees.
A staircase and retaining wall was also added near the top of the trail.
“We are fixing up the trail over the years and trying to make it just a little bit safer,” Metro Vancouver Parks Operations Supervisor Tom McComb told CTV News. “We want to keep people directed on the trail and not to braid.”
Metro Vancouver is reminding people to bring water, food, sturdy footwear and a cellphone if they are planning to tackle the trail.
Rangers from Metro Vancouver will be staffing the Grind all season,
“We kind of let folks know how to get to the top safely and comfortably,” added McComb.
While it may feel warm at the base, hikers can still expect to see a bit of snow at the top. On Friday the temperature at the top of the trail was about seven degrees colder than at the base.
“You hit a little bit of snow at the top,” said hiker Suzanne Howitt, who hikes the trail at 6 am nearly every day. “It’s been shoveled off to the side, so you have to walk through a little tunnel of snow.”
Hiker Terry Byrne has been tackling the Grind for about 15 years. He expects he will hike the trail about 150 times before this season is over.
“Take your time and enjoy,” Byrne said. “Because it’s the nicest trail on the North Shore.
Willow Yamauchi tries to do the Grind once a week, she says she was mentally preparing for the pain her first Grouse Grind of the year would bring.
“It’s actually the most awful hour of your life you’re going to spend,” said Yamauchi. “Once you’ve done the grind the rest of the week is amazing. Because what could be worse than the grind? Nothing.”
While the Grouse Grind is open for the season, hikers are only allowed to take to the trail between 6:15 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.