I did West Vancouver’s Grouse Grind in 52:20 – a straight-up climb of 2800 feet – and was ready for more.
We carried on over Dam Mountain and then around Goat to the steep descent to the Lynn Valley Saddle. And then It was time for the climb up Crown. That’s when it hit me. I was flagging, bumping into branches, tripping over roots. I was stopping, looking up, thinking too much about the daunting journey ahead, psyching myself out, getting more and more exhausted, staring at my sweat dripping onto the rocks. I had to stop again and again, seriously considering turning back, Micaela far ahead, waiting. I thought I might not make it but moved my foot ahead, toiled on, step to step, dragging my inert legs over root ledges, and at long last made it to the top. I sat, mute, only able to think about the long descent and that horrible climb back up Goat and realized that this might indeed be the last time I would be here on this mountain.
I ate and ate – something I had stupidly neglected to do on the way up – and we began our long return, which amounted to a lot of slips and half falls through the labyrinth of exposed rock and dirt. We devoured our final batch of chocolate and attacked the ascent back up Goat. It wasn’t as bad as I expected. Not at all. It was almost a game again. We were going to make it after all. I was elated to be back, whole, in the parking lot and then in the fair city of Vancouver with a cold Steam Whistle in my hand.The next morning was not so joyous. My knees were done. I had suddenly degraded to a state of gimpy and old. I glowered across Burrard Inlet, at the distant mountain top, and wondered when I would return. Soon, I promised myself. As soon as I could.