Every Step is a Challenge

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October, 6, 2016

With autumn upon us, marking the end of the ‘lazy, hazy days of summer,’ it is easy to fall back (pun intended) on our fitness regime.

Zoomers know it is important to keep up with some kind of exercise program as it is conducive to healthy aging.  Of course, there are many programs available locally at our community and senior centres, but I am presenting you with two other options, both of which I consider challenging.

The first option is best done on a sunny day and will only cost you $14. More if you have lunch.

The second alternative is recommended for a rainy day and could cost you thousands of dollars depending on your willpower.

Both choices require physical and mental stamina.

I recently took advantage of a beautiful, sunny Friday and opted for the first choice which is commonly referred to as “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster” or the Grouse Grind.

Wanting to test my fitness level, I stopped talking about doing it and did it!

With a distance of 2.9 km. (1.8 miles) and an elevation gain of 2,800 feet, it is not for the faint of heart. You are climbing straight up a mountain and there is no turning back. You can’t change your mind halfway and descend the mountain. Not allowed.

Trusting the gentle coaching and guidance of my daughter who has done it twice before, I joined the 150,000 people ranging in age from 7 to 90, who climb this demanding trail annually.

Dressed appropriately in layers, I whipped off my first layer within the first half hour. Gingerly placing one foot in front of the other, not wanting to trip or twist an ankle, I challenged myself, one step at a time.

Often mimicking a billy goat, I hoisted myself upon rocks, grunted on all fours and ascended all 2,830 stairs to the summit which is 3,700 feet. What a view of the city! And to think I didn’t even break a fingernail.

And nothing aches! I must have strong quadriceps left over from my running days. I am proud of this physical and mental accomplishment.

Cost: $4 for parking, $10 for the gondola down the mountain for a total of $14. But the real cost: priceless!

Buoyed by my achievement, I decided I was up for the second challenge. This time, I was at or below sea level.

It requires good walking shoes if you are willing to traverse the 1.4 million square feet  footprint of what is called Tsawwassen Mills outlet mall.  I call it “retail insanity.”

This mall, built in partnership with the Tsawwassen First Nation and a private developer, is the size of 80 hockey rinks. There are 180 stores with room for more. It is retail therapy on steroids. Massive. Daunting.

Exhausted, I staggered into a store called Bass Pro Shops. I was no ‘pro’, but the sign over the entrance, “Welcome Fishermen, Hunters, and Other Liars” beckoned me to enter. Looking up, I was greeted by a different type of menagerie, which set them apart from the throngs of mindless shoppers.

Dead animals. Taxidermy heaven. Glassy eyes of moose, elk and sheep staring down at me. I am sure I saw one of them wink at me.

Maybe they thought I was a long-lost relative who looked like that billy goat ascending the Grouse Grind recently.

I’ll never know.

Cost?  Nothing.

The mall is definitely not for the faint of heart either. I skedaddled out of there to find my car amidst the other 5,999 in the parking lot.

Now there is a challenge for you.


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