Have you’ve prepped yourself physically to do the Grouse Grind? If not, check out this article on how to get #grindfit. Either way, before you head for the mountain and begin your ascent up the total of 2,830 “stairs” you’ll want to check off an itemized list of “must haves” to make sure you have all that you need. While the resort community at the top is packed with food and amenity options, the journey itself is a demanding one and may have you rummaging through your bag for essentials. Follow this checklist and you’ll be more than prepared for what lies ahead.
8 Things Beginners Need to Pack Before Doing the Grouse Grind
1. A Light Backpack
Don’t make the mistake of bringing your overnight backpack on this hike. While it can be grueling, it’s only a few hours between the trek, lunch, and the gondola back down. Bringing too big of a bag will be uncomfortable and will subconsciously having you packing more than you need. Instead, keep it minimal with a light backpack, the kind you find people using for bikepacking (it’s a thing). The pack should be big enough to fit everything below, and little more.
It may only take you between an 1 and 1.5 hours to complete the Grind, but it’s a challenging hike, one that will require frequent hydration, especially if the temperature tips above 18 °C. A good rule of thumb for beginners is 1.5 to 2 liters. If it gets heavy in your pack, drink up or pour it out if you need to. But it’s better to start the hike with too much water than with too little. Halfway through you’ll know how much you really need and can adjust accordingly. Backpacks with hydration systems (that hold 1.5 to 2 L) are a good option too. Avoid bringing sugary drinks on your hike as they can slow you down during the ensuing “sugar crash” phase.
3. Nutrition Bars and Light (Nutritious) Snacks
While you can certainly wait to satisfy your hunger pangs during the approximate hour and a half that it takes to do the Grind for the first time, it is a good idea to bring a meal replacement (MRP) bar. That bar should contain a balanced ratio of protein, carbohydrates, and essential fatty acids (EFAs). You may find fatigue setting in, at which point an MRP will help energize you. Throw in some fruit, including a banana for potassium (to abate cramping) and some trail mix for good measure. It doesn’t hurt to have a few extra (bars and snacks) should someone in your party need a boost.
While you can get away with doing the Grind in light hike-appropriate clothing in the late spring and summer, dress in layers just in case. The temperature can change dramatically as the elevation changes. Plus, this is Greater Vancouver, where weather can shift within minutes. A light hoodie/windbreaker is a must.
5. First-Aid Essentials
While there are stairs to lead you up the Grind (2,830 of them), they’re not exactly consistent. They are uneven, in disrepair, can get slippery, and are marred by debris. And while it is a relatively safe hike, things can happen. Such instances would be limited to a minor scrape or two, so it’s a good idea to keep first-aid essentials in your pack. These include bandages, antibacterialointment or hydrogen peroxide, and a tensor wrap in case you twist an ankle. Throw in some mosquito repellant as well.
6. Hand Towel
You’re gonna sweat. Bring a hand towel to keep it (sweat) out of your eyes and keep your eyes on the prize – reaching your destination.
7. Small Garbage Bag
There are no garbage receptacles on the Grind. Help keep the natural wonder beautiful by keeping garbage out of the equation with a pack-it-in pack-it-out mentality. Throw a small bag for garbage into your pack to make sure your used bottles and wrappers are tucked away until you reach the top where you’ll find compost, recycle, and garbage bins.
8. Digital Memory
You may be determined to focus on the hike and clock in an admirable time on your first trek up the Grind. But you’ll have a hard time not stopping to take in the scenery along the way. For that reason alone you’ll want to free up storage space on your smartphone so you can take at least a dozen photos. You most certainly will want to at the top, where an incomparable view of the forest, waterways, and skyline unfolds in front of your eyes. Don’t forget to bring your smartphone charger too (you can plug-in the local cafeteria). For those of you determined to Grind away without stopping to take a pic, consider strapping on a GoPro to capture the journey. After all, we’re talking about one of the most breathtaking destinations in the Pacific Northwest, and no day is ever the same.
Last but not least, let’s not forget the icing on the cake. Pick up a Grindaholic t-shirt beforehand to commemorate your successful hike and arrival at the top. For first timers, we suggest saving it until you’ve completed the trek. You’ll have worked up quite the sweat and you’ll want to be fresh for your pic at the peak. After that (and once you’re hooked) you can wear your Grindaholic t-shirt while doing the Grind and nod at fellow Grinders in the community doing the same.