July 2nd – To start my ‘hike the hill goals’ off on the right foot last week, I decided to really go for it, get up with the sun and be at the hill for 6:30 am to #RiseAndGrind. Needless to say, I arrived at the hill at 7:15 am. Hey, it’s better to be fashionably late – and mornings are hard. Before leaving my house, I threw on flip flops and grabbed what I thought were both hiking shoes. But upon arrival, I saw that I only had ONE shoe in the car. The other one was left at home, wondering why it didn’t get the invite to the morning hike. This rise and grind turned into a Starbucks and snooze instead. I decided next time, I’d give a lunch break hike a go.

July 3rd – This time, I packed BOTH shoes, a t shirt, shorts, socks, a sports bra, hat and bag. I packed my Field Bag with Sunscreen, lip balm, staff pass, multitool (safety first) and a clif bar. Things I forgot? A hair elastic and water bottle. This was problematic because it was 1,000,000 degrees outside and from the months of June through September, my hair is the equivalent of a lion’s mane.

Pics or it doesn’t count

Thankfully the Low Pro Trucker hat tamed the wild mane and my ponytail went through the snapback. I tied it in a knot to keep it out of my face (it stayed the ENTIRE time – told you it is not normal hair). Side note: I was pleasantly surprised after looking at my post hike photos that I did in fact “Look Good. Feel Good. Hike Good.”

As I left the office around lunch time, I was met by numerous coworkers, who were all enjoying the #LiveItOutside lifestyle. It slowed down my start, but it was great to see others enjoying the outdoors. 

The Grind – 2.1km of uphill fun

The Grind is my personal favourite hiking trail. It’s not super steep, has enough elements to keep you challenged and has some outstanding look outs as well.  Before I started my hike, I decided that stretching was a good idea.  I Googled “Hike Stretches” and found some pretty great moves to help my IT Bands.

I was late to the hiking game this year. So instead of making it a jog or run as I have in past years, I decided to keep a solid walking pace – which, may be faster than my jog anyway. To understand my pace, check out the Cascade Climb Playlist. I walked to the beat of Cash Cash’s Surrender.

I am not embarrassed to say that I was already sweating before I got to the base of the hill. The temperature was 32 degrees, with a humidex factor of 38 AND I went at 1:00 pm, one of the hottest times of day.

Says 1.8km. Actually 2.1km. Friends Don’t Lie!

The trail sign says 1.8km – but according to Strava,  it was 2.5 km from my office to the top! The hardest part of the Grind is the first 2 minutes, when you walk up the side of Gords Groove – it’s super mellow to ski down but feels like a double black diamond on the assent.

As soon as I got into the trees, it felt about 10 degrees cooler. I was a little bummed as I went through the apple trees because I had missed blossom season. It is truly beautiful. As I approached the first bridge, I got swarmed by a rather hyper dog. As much as I was LOVING IT, dogs really need to be on a leash at all times. The owners quickly came running and it looked like he had made a jail break. They had a leash and collar in hand and were yelling out his name. I don’t think “Stupid Dog” is the best choice of name, but alas – not my doggo, not my problem.

The first bridge is the usual point where my athletically flat feet start to cramp. But the Ultra Fastpack III GTX were proving to be #WinnerGagnant. There are a significant number of roots and stumps on the Grind that you need to navigate, but my feet never felt heavy and for the first time in my life, I made it up the Grind without tripping. It could be a coincidence, or it could be the fact I was wearing fresh lightweight kicks instead of my old beaters. 

About halfway up the Grind, you can look backwards and see a clear view of the Collingwood terminals… very pretty. I thought my iPhone had crapped out on me due to the heat. Not so… it was the first time in YEARS that I have worn polarized sunglasses (thanks Smith) and I didn’t realize that you cannot see the screen when they are on. My apologies in missing that photo op!  

North – The Goodest Boy

On the next bridge I met ANOTHER dog. I’m mentioning him because he was such a good boy, on a leash and his name was NORTH. Since I am hiking in the name of The North Face, it seemed like a great fit for this blog.

It was at that point that I noticed my entire shirt was soaking wet. HOWEVER- it never once felt like it was soaked or that it was sticking to me. This Quick Dry (although very wet) shirt, is A-Okay in my books – 10/10 would wear it again.

I continued and was hoping to use some of the fresh stream water as a cool down on my neck – but sadly it was dried up. This turned out to be fine because I paused for a few minutes and watched some of the downhill mountain bikers on the trails beside the Grind; another added benefit of using that trail. 

Before I knew it, I had reached the top. What I had thought was going to be an hour was about 30 minutes. Since I had another 30 min left of lunch – I decided to hike down Cascade.

The walk across the top is always beautiful with its many spectacular views. Once again, I was met by active #LiveItOutside enthusiasts.  Cascade might be the most picturesque trail. I spent the first 5 minutes ignoring everything I had learnt from TLC and I chased that waterfall. Trying multiple angles just to get that one #NoFilter #BlessedLife photo. 

You’re Welcome! #Blessed #JurassicPark #FernGully

One thing I forgot was how many stairs there are on Cascade. For someone who had knee surgery before the ripe age of 25, this is a challenge. But, I made the descent in 15 minutes (I may have jogged slightly – but so slowly that the ‘j’ turned into a ‘y’ – therefore it was more of a soft “yog”).

One thing I feel the need to mention is my shoes. Once again, they are the Ultra Fastpack III GTX. They are black and feel synthetic, so I thought my feet would be roasty toasty – but they were truly the ALL STARS of this hike. They are light, comfortable, breathable, look good aaaaaand the laces never came undone!!! I cannot recommend them enough!

VIP of the Hike

With hike numero uno in the books, I look forward to my next week of hiking. This time, I’ll be reversing my route, going UP Cascade and down the Grind. And I’ll have some special giveaways in my pack. Will they be treats, discounts or tickets? That is up to YOU to find out!

Meet me out there for more than just an average hike.

Look Good. Feel Good. Sweat Good.

Published by Melissa Kurtin

Resident Gryffindor of the Marketing Team, combines her passion for the outdoors with her love of rule following to help you get the most of your Blue Mountain experience