Friday, 1 June 2012

Are We There Yet?

The stairs are becoming more and more difficult for Mike. At the end of a long day, we get him off the couch and make our way to the staircase. When we get there, we put his hands on the railing, uncurling each finger and placing them on the hand rail, and then we lift one foot and put it on the first step. At this point, we quite often look at each other and laugh.

After having a good laugh, we look up…way up. Our stairs are no longer the short staircase we have been running up and down for the past seven years. Mike refers to them as the Grouse Grind.
The Grouse Grind Trail is located in North Vancouver, B.C., at the Grouse Mountain ski resort. It is an extremely steep and mountainous trail that begins at the 300-metre-elevation and climbs to 1,100 metres over a distance of approximately 2.9 kilometres. It’s commonly referred to as Mother Nature’s Stairmaster.

The average time it takes to climb the Grind is an hour and a half. Mike and I have hiked it together once. His time was 40 minutes and mine was 43. Mike always wanted to climb the Grind again. He was convinced he could easily shave a few minutes off his time with practice. He says there’s a technique to climbing the steep hill.
Well, there is a technique to climbing our stairs now too; slowly and carefully. I walk right behind him with one hand on the railing holding tight and one on his back, so he knows I’ve got his back. Before taking his first step the other night, Mike said, “How many more steps have we got? Oh, wait, we haven’t started yet.” A few steps up and he says, “What have we got ourselves into?” About half way up, he says, “Are we there yet?”

We climb the stairs together twice a day; once after Mike’s bike ride for a shower and again at the end of the day to go to bed. Once in a while I time how long it takes us to reach the top.  It usually takes between five and six minutes. The five to six minute journey to the upper level allows for some contemplation. I think about Mike’s determination and how I probably would have given up a long time ago. I admire his patience and mental strength and humbly follow one slow step at a time. I examine the grain and the lines in the wood or our beautiful wooden stairs and hand railing. I pray for protection and for the kind of patience Mike has.
My sister, Elanna and her husband Peter have invited us to come and stay in their ground level basement. It has a beautiful guest room, a bathroom, laundry and a large living area. They say it’s ready when we are. But Mike’s not quite ready and with his strong will and determination we will keep climbing those stairs for as long as possible. Plus, he is convinced he can shave a few minutes off his time with more practice.

Mike working up a sweat just thinking about the climb ahead of him.

Keep looking up are doing well!


  1. Another beautifully written post. You both inspire me. xoxo

  2. For My Uncle Mike, hosting any relative from Ontario seems to not only involve providing a cozy bed and a trip to Swiss Chalet, but pushing them well beyond what they thought their limit was, in some adventure or another.
    When my turn came (for the record it had rained for days so the paragliding trip was cancelled) I think Uncle Mike started saying "We're halfway there" about 20 minutes into the "hike" up Golden Ears. Let me tell you, it was not halfway at that point or the next 5 or 6 times he said that.
    Turning around is not really an option when you're with Uncle Mike. He will encourage/cajole/lie to you until you believe you can accomplish anything. By some miracle I have a picture with Nadine and Mike and I high up the mountain, sitting inside the hollowed out trunk of a giant tree.
    Erin was about 7 years old, and as far as I know, she kept my secret that the next day my legs were so stiff I could barely get down the stairs. With wide-eyed Erin watching, I had to hold on tight to the rail and swing my legs around on each step so my knees wouldn't bend too much. She was quite concerned - she'd never seen anyone so worn out after "just climbing a mountain". I am sure she would begin to understand as more of her Ontario relatives came to visit. Her Dad was always the most physically fit of the family, and the one who can be counted on to convince himself and others that the only limits are the ones you make.
    So Aunt Nadine, I know you will give my Uncle Mike a big smile the next time you're on, say the fourth or fifth step, and tell him he's about halfway.
    xoxo Jenny