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Williams Ridge Professional Review and Guide
"The Grouse Grind? It’s a walk in the park, a stroll, a dawdle! You want a steep trail? This is it! To practice for Williams Ridge, run over to the Skyride and do the Grind twice before breakfast. For the fit or for those who want to get fit, this trail is a pipe-opener as it rises from the floor of the Chilliwack River Valley to a knoll on the ridge 1400 m (4600 ft) above. If you have some technical skill and experience, keep going and climb the last 720 m (2360 ft) to the top: a fine Class 3 scramble, although not for the uninitiated! It would also add another 3 to 4 hours to your day. If you can reduce your pulse rate sufficiently to see some distance, the views from the ridge are grand."
--Jack Bryceland and Mary & David Macaree, 103 Hikes in Southwestern British Columbia (Greystone Books).
The first half of this trail is indeed very steep - close to the point of not being comfortable for traditional hiking. This trail is for the very fit crowd. The terrain over the first half or so feels a lot like the Grouse Grind - there's nothing in the way of a good view or pleasant distractions - it's a bit of a "lung-busting" grind through the trees. However, the effort is not without its rewards. The views from the knoll at the top of the ridge-base of the peak are spectacular. The rocky spires and the views of the glaciers are a refreshing change from the rounded bumps that are typical of the peaks on the south coast.
I encountered little in the way of wildlife (other than the six-legged variety) - a couple of squirrels and a pheasant that I startled from the low brush near the top of the ridge (I am not sure who was more startled - me or the bird). I was surprised that there were no other hikers on the trail on what was a perfect day for the trip.
The trail is reasonably well marked (very well marked most of the way). You'll see the trail markers if you are reasonably alert.
The descent over the steeper portions is a bit of a challenge. Don't be surprised to be more or less sliding on your backside in a couple of spots. Make sure you take a few breaks to rest your quads and your knees on the way down.
Because I was travelling alone I made a bit of a sprint of the trip - I was out and back in about 5 hours, including a 20 minute stretch and lunch break at the top. I took 2.5 litres of water for the round trip (temperature was about 20 degrees) - I discovered that this was just enough when I took my last swallow right after getting back to my car at the trailhead.
My four star rating is based on the serenity of my experience and the views at the top - they made up for the grind factor.
I would recommend taking a hiking partner, a camera and a bit more time.
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