All trails must come to an end
By Jacey Gibb, Distribution Manager
Great Inclinations is your go-to source for diving into the world of casual hiking in and around the Lower Mainland. Because hiking’s not just for assholes anymore.
Eight months ago, I set out to write about a hobby that stealthily became a favourite pastime. Through “Great Inclinations” I’ve talked about hikes for the transit-bound and day-trippers; about snacks and the absurdly overpriced world of hiking gear; about trail etiquette and even the politics surrounding BC’s most popular paths. However, like any hiking trail, this all has to lead us somewhere.
Now onto another thing that trails do: They end.
I thought I’d close off this run of hiking articles with the tale of my first official “hike” seven years ago. It’s wildly unglamorous and quite cringeworthy to look back on, but it’s interesting to see how far I’ve come since that first trail.
In 2011, I’d spent almost a year acclimatizing to Vancouver life and I wanted to start checking out some of the landmarks people kept talking about, including the supposedly famous Grouse Grind.
A friend and I embarked up the Grind and it immediately felt like a human highway. Every few minutes we’d find ourselves stopping and waiting for the hikers ahead to clamber up a steep section. People were hiking in their flip-flops and kept stumbling all over the place. I even remember someone talking on their phone for part of the hike, which assuredly is how you get the full experience of being out in nature.
We reached the top, took in the gorgeous views of Metro Vancouver, and then noticed the sign that read: “Downhill Travel Prohibited.” Both of us were broke-ass students at the time, and the thought of spending money when we could walk down seemed ridiculous, so we hiked back down the Grind.
Aside from being against the rules, walking down the Grind was a nightmare. The path is narrow, meaning it was awkward having to shimmy past hikers coming up a supposedly-one-way trail. There were steep drops without proper ledges to hang onto while descending. Also, I’m 99 percent sure I was wearing Converse shoes, which I can’t recommend as proper hiking footwear.
For days afterwards, our knees felt shattered and my feet ached from hiking in thin, flat shoes. It was a horrendous experience, and I’ve only since returned to the Grind when visiting relatives requested it.
There’s no particular lesson I want you to take away from that experience—except maybe “respect trail signs when you’re out on a hike”—but it’s a peculiar beginning to what would grow to be a sprawling, infinitely enjoyable hobby.
This story feels appropriate to end on because it demonstrates how inexperienced and unprepared you can be for hiking, and how ultimately none of that matters. Almost anyone can throw on some shoes (preferably not Converse), hit up a local trail, and wah-bam, you’re a hiker.
That’s all from me, folks. Thanks for reading, and happy trailin’.