(m)app my hike



grouse grind - hike - appsphoto by: Brooke Morse

Though I’m not really afraid of anything, intimidation can get the best of me from time to time. The Grouse Grind, a firm fixture on my Vancouver bucket list, was one of those things that required a little more encouragement than say, lavender lattes and mini waffles at Café Medina. Just before the hiking season ended (and with some motivation from friends to boot), I braced myself for one of Vancouver’s famous hikes, also known as “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster.”

mapping my hike

grouse grind - hikeI wanted to document my hike so that I could compare my first time with each time after that (side note: about halfway up I was sure that this would be my first and last time). Having this record would not only serve as proof that I did in fact climb the Grind but it would also allow me to track my progress and help me set goals to challenge myself in the future. After looking into a few options, I settled on iMapMyHike since I was already familiar and quite satisfied with other apps from MapMyFitness.

the grouse grind

To put things into perspective for those of you who are unfamiliar with the Grind, imagine 2,830 steps, gaining 2,800ft in elevation, which works out to cover a total distance of 2.9km. On average it takes about an hour and a half to complete, two hours for novice hikers and 23 minutes and 48 seconds if you’re Sebastian Salas, the official record holder.

take it to the top

grouse grind - hike At the base of the trail my friend Ashley and I each started the app to record our journey (I wanted to test the accuracy of the app to see if our results would differ). Setting it up was fairly easy and with a push of a button we were on our way. It didn’t take long to realize that “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster” is no exaggeration. The first quarter was fun and exciting - the halfway point couldn’t come soon enough. Seeing the three-quarter mark was a dream and really kicked my energy level into high gear. Standing at the top was unbelievable and somehow made me forget how much I disliked getting there.

how the app faired

I have mixed opinions about the app. It was successful in recording the hike as far as time, distance, calories and elevation go (although, I was so excited when I got to the top I forgot to stop the app, so I have to shave about 10 minutes off my ‘official’ time). I loved that I could immediately share my stats on my social channels (climbing the Grind entitles you to some bragging rights, after all) or through email (I chose to share my stats with my coworker, Michael). What I didn’t like was that the app seemed a little glitch-y when it came to saving the workout, in fact, Ashley’s hike got deleted. The app also drained my battery, which, could be dangerous if you’re climbing alone and also means less juice for pictures when you do make it to the top.

Would I climb the grind again? I can’t believe I’m going to say this but yes. As for the app, I didn’t love it enough to use it for my hike up the Chief the following day, although I would have liked having those stats recorded. Any suggestions for other hiking apps that are more dependable and won’t kill my battery?

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12 Comments »


Congrats on completing The Grind! I did also did The Grind for the first time this summer- my long sleeve metal vent was soaked about 7 mins in! Did not even think to track my progress via an app (great idea!) found these, maybe it will be of help to some peeps;
Andriod- http://huskyhiker.com/2010/09/21/5-free-android-apps-for-hiking-hiking-with-your-smartphone/
iPhone- http://appadvice.com/appguides/show/hiking-apps

Comment by Anil N. Singh — November 22, 2011 @ 5:29 am


Thanks Anil! I’ll be sure to test those apps out when the hiking season starts up again!

Comment by Allessia — November 22, 2011 @ 7:34 am


Hey Allessia! I’m a big fan of RunKeeper (iPhone, Android) which seems to be very battery efficient on the iPhone 4; and more recently, my Garmin 405CX is great – love being able to have all that info on my wrist, and not have to fumble around pulling out my phone.

Comment by Jonas Caruana — November 22, 2011 @ 10:58 am


I accomplished the Grind this summer while visiting family. I didn’t expect what I was in for! We are all quite fit individuals but I have never had a workout quite like that. They climb Grouse many times a year and pushed me to finish in one hour! As painful as it was I agree it is worth it and I would do it again too! As for an app I’m not sure.. Its a good idea to track yourself though!

Comment by Megan — November 22, 2011 @ 11:46 am


Hi Allessia,

Great review on this app – it’s great to be able to monitor your progress. It’s a lot more practical than hoping you’ll pass someone on their way back down and asking them how much further it is to the top. And a lot of apps that feature GPS tracking are power hungry!

Here’s another one you might be interested in – Guardian Trace (www.guardiantrace.com). It’s pretty new. I use it when I go for runs and take the dog for walks. It doesn’t drain my battery and I don’t have to tell my husband “If I’m not back in an hour, come looking for me.”

Comment by Erika — November 22, 2011 @ 12:04 pm


Hey Allessia
I use imapmyrun (same as imapmyhike) all the time. The key to using it for long distances, is to use your button on top to click off the screen! This won’t drain your battery. I use this app for running, hiking and mountain biking. I also use nike run app, but it does not take into account elevation. so, fun to have your friends cheer you on FB, but not accurate. Hope that helps you on your next hike up the grind! I agree with you, 1/2 way up, was brutal!

Comment by Sherry Nelsen — November 22, 2011 @ 12:06 pm


Yikes – the battery element of using an app on a hike didn’t even cross my mind. That’s a good point though.

Comment by Tiff — November 22, 2011 @ 1:29 pm


Feel no need for tech! Technology is unfortunately being promoted – and gullibly believed – as a greater cause and source of happiness and well-being than nature. You probably wrote “do the Grouse Grind” on paper somewhere, if your intention was to do it – and then, you got yourself up there and did it. And did it not beat the Stairmaster by a lightyear?!

When I did it, it was in full summer (so congrats on the late fall weather trek), but it was lucky for me then to have done it. I wore an ill-broken-in pair of shoes, so about a third of the way up, I took them off, and discovered the true joy and advantage of hiking barefoot. It has been 14 years since that experience, but should I make it to Vancouver again, I will revisit the Grind. I have since hiked barefoot – and I’m a tenderfoot – which is best for trails with both soil, large rocks, and an inclination. It regulates your speed and makes more use of your agility.

Comment by jane — November 23, 2011 @ 7:02 am


Hi Allessia,

Thanks for trying out our app! We are continually trying to improve our products and appreciate your input.

I do have a couple of suggestions for the issues you experienced – if you’re working with an iPhone, it’s recommended that you make sure you’re updated to both the latest iOS and latest version of our app. Additionally, for battery, Sherry is correct – if you lock your screen while the app runs in the background, it’ll use less battery. You may also want to turn off Wi-Fi if it’s running and use it on 3G or E, depending on your location and service. Please be sure that you have a strong GPS signal while you hike, otherwise, you will run the risk of having an incomplete workout. If you plan to do longer hikes, or other time-consuming activities like a marathon or century ride, we generally recommend investing in a battery pack for your phone, just in case.

If I can answer any questions for you or be of further assistance, please let me know! traci.mazurek @ mapmyfitness dot com

Comment by Traci @ MapMyFITNESS — November 23, 2011 @ 10:17 am


@Jane That’s a great story! It’s true, sometimes we get so caught up in our technology we forget to “stop and smell the roses” (literally).

@Traci thanks for all those suggestions! I suppose the GPS and hike combination can be a tricky one since trails are typically remote. I’ve been quite satisfied with some of your other products (especially MapMyRun). I love that you guys are always looking to improve your product and I hope this feedback helps!

Looking forward to the next hiking season so I can try everyone’s suggestions!

Comment by Allessia — November 23, 2011 @ 10:35 am


so proud of you les! great post!

Comment by tiffany — November 23, 2011 @ 3:59 pm


Love tracking the grind too. Now that you have tracked it try uploading to http://www.gobreadcrumbs.com a free website for tracking and managing your GPS tracks. You can look at the track in 3D which is pretty cool. Here is a grind one of our users tracked:

http://app.gobreadcrumbs.com/user/trekitnowcom/hiking/north-shore/the-grouse-grind

Comment by Stewart Harper — November 23, 2011 @ 9:04 pm


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