Date: July 30, 2016
Location: North Shore, BC
Distance: 35 km biked, ~16 km hiked, ~2000 m elevation gain
Time: 7 hours, 1 minute
On the August long weekend I hadn’t made plans since most of my friends were working or out of town and I wasn’t actually taking a long weekend, preferring to work Monday and shift the day off to next week for an attempt at the Alcoholic Traverse with Brittany. After sleeping in until 10:30 am (very unusual) I did chores around the house until I got antsy in the afternoon. Around 2:30 I started to consider a run at Crown Mountain self-propelled. Brittany clinched the decision from work via text.
I left the house at 2:48 pm after making three PB+J’s and throwing some stuff in my pannier. I took a photo of my destination at approximately 2:49 from the end of my street. Crown is actually visible from my living room if the leaves on the tree behind my place blow apart in just the right way.
The bike to Grouse took about an hour and ranges from sea level to 274 m at the Grouse parking lot. I changed out of my bike shorts and snapped a photo of some excited middle-aged women at the bottom before we all headed off at 4:00 – the wrong way. 30 seconds from the parking lot we were all at a dead-end that appeared to be a wolf pen.
I found a worker in the parking lot and was quickly oriented in the right direction. This would be my first time on the Grouse Grind despite living here for 6 years. Since the Grind is ostensibly up-hill travel only, I also asked the worker about finding the trailhead of the nearby BCMC trail for the descent. Employees of Grouse are apparently forbidden to give out this information which is ludicrous.
I started the Grind at 4:05 and took no breaks except to get some beta on the BCMC from an experienced looking hiker. At 4:47 I was finished the 2.9 km trail with 800+ m and standing at the Peak Chalet where I stopped to refill my bottles and eat the first sandwich. By 5:10 I was passing the Grizzly Bear pen and heading toward Lynn Headwaters Park and Crown Mountain. I was trying to be quick for two reasons. First, I wanted to push it hard since I was alone. Second, I wasn’t actually sure when it got dark and I was starting pretty late.
The hike from the Peak Chalet is straightforward, follow the gravel road that winds left of the ski resort until it turns into a trail network. Then just follow the signs for Dam Mountain then Crown Mountain. The trail summits Dam Mountain – a non-descript nub at 1349 m, then continues down to the col that connects it with Crown Mountain. I had done all of this section in reverse last year when completing the Hanes Valley Traverse. After the split for the aforementioned Hanes Valley, I started up the steep trail to Crown. This scramble has very little exposure but is still a good grunt from the elevation of the col up to Crown’s peak at 1504 m. I was on the summit at around 6:30, ate another sandwich and a half, then started the descent around 6:45. I was only half done.
Reversing the route had me back at the Peak Chalet by 8:00 where I ate my last half sandwich and drank a Powerade. I was actually feeling pretty ill from the heat and the exertion but the remainder of the trip would mostly be in the dark. I had brought a headlamp and was now armed with some beta on the BCMC trail, but in the end I decided to just drop down the Grouse Grind. Hiking down was similar in time to hiking up and I was in the parking lot around 8:45 or so. I took a long break before starting the bike back to the city, probably getting into the saddle at about 9:05. I was daydreaming about what kind of fast-food I should grab on the way home to supplement the three measly sandwiches but I was feeling really strong on my bike and was moving fast so I just set out for home weaving through the throngs of pedestrians and heavier than usual car traffic due to the last night of the “Celebration of Light” fireworks. When I walked into the kitchen I watched the clock tick from 9:48 to 9:49 – 7 hours and 1 minute after I left.