I had plenty of time to reflect on these and other, more pretentious thoughts as I trudged, again, up the Grouse Grind. The idea had been to take advantage of the fine warm autumn day that was forecast and, together with Andrew and his son Jacob, do something manly before they shut the trail for the season (they then open the Snowshoe Grind, but that might be several literal steps too far).
Well, best laid plans etc., it was a day of the worst weather the city has seen since...last week, at least. Unrelenting rain lashed down, soaking us as we got ready in the car park. I checked with Andrew that he was sure he wanted to do this. At the 1/4 mark I said "I think this is the point of no return." "Great," he replied, "let's keep going!" Was my message - that if we both agree to lie then no one can prove we didn't do it - too subtle?
In the summer the trail was a nightmare of crowds rushing to the top, with mixed success but with plenty of pushing and jostling. No such annoyance today, but it was all about what was rushing to the bottom. We ascended a waterfall with the odd step or tree root to perch on above the deluge. Many who passed us (there were still plenty) commented on our bravery. One told me that, if he could, he would buy me a beer, and I pointed out that he could just give me $10 and I'd promise to do it myself later. Or I would have, but at that moment of the ascent I was too busy trying not to black out and/or be sick.
Both babies slept for bits of it, and I worried that they might drown in the 180% humidity, but after a reasonable 1hr 45mins (about five times the course record) we arrived at the top. It was in a cloud, and it was still raining torrentially. Clouds rain from the middle as well as the bottom? This seems unfair.
Inside the summit cafe we shed as many dripping clothes as we could and made liberal use of the hand dryers in the toilet before recaffeinating. And still we had to pay for a ticket to ride down on the cable car! Schlepping a 30lb baby to the top of a mountain on a day like today should. in my opinion, grant you a lifetime's free pass.
As we left the cafe we basked in more adulation from our fellow summiters. Most had walked the Grind like us - who would pay to go up a mountain on a day like today? - but no one else came with babies. We did a couple of circuits of the room to make sure everyone saw this, before leaving for the gondola. Soon we were back in Andrew's car with the heat turned up to maximum. "Well, the best thing about doing that is that we never have to do it again," I told him. But that's what I said the last time.
Getting ready for the off, in the shelter of Andrew's boot lid.
Selfie at the start.
They perked up once we got some coffee inside them.
And the view from the top made it all worth it.