COLUMN: The view is worth the climb

Reflections on Summerland’s Giants Head Grind and marital commitment

It took me 8,096 steps from the Giants Head Grind starting line to the flag pole at the top of the mountain.

On Saturday, I participated in the sixth annual grind from Peach Orchard Beach to the summit of Giant’s Head Mountain.

This is an event held each year on the Saturday of the Victoria Day weekend. It’s a fundraiser put on by Ellen Walker Matthews and the Summerland Rotary Club to raise funds for trail improvements and for colon cancer awareness and research.

The grind has become a May long weekend tradition for me and I’ve participated each year.

The view from the top is worth the climb.

I’ve described this event as fun, but when I use that word, some people wonder if I understand the meaning of fun. If I consider it fun to slog up a mountain, then how would I define agony?

Looking up from the lake, getting to the top seems like a daunting task.

The course isn’t all that long. It’s a little more than five kilometres and the first portion, along the shore of Okanagan Lake, follows a flat, paved route.

Then the work begins.

The grind has 500 metres of elevation gain, most of it on trails.

It would be much easier to sit in the back yard, relaxing with a cold beverage in one hand and a good book in the other.

But if I chose to do that, I’d miss out on a spectacular view at the summit. (I’d also miss out on fruit, energy bars and ice cream near the summit, but it’s easy enough to stop at a grocery store and pick up those items.)

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I could see amazing Okanagan scenes if I picked up the book, Jewels of the Okanagan, by Mike Biden. This book is a series of stunning aerial photographs of Summerland and the rest of the region.

But looking at pictures isn’t the same as actually seeing them in person after climbing the mountain.

Why not drive to the upper parking lot on Giant’s Head Mountain and then hike the last little bit to the summit?

Sure, that’s possible, and I’d be able to see the stunning vistas. But it wouldn’t mean nearly as much as the hike from the lake to the summit.

The view from the top is amazing, but the effort is what makes it memorable.

The view is worth the climb.

The 8,096 steps on Saturday, and the tens of thousands of steps in preparation for the grind, are lessons in commitment and determination.

It’s possible, at any point along the way, to stop, turn around and go back.

But there’s something amazing waiting for me every time I reach the summit.

The idea of commitment at the Giants Head Grind has taken on an extra significance over the past couple of years.

Last year, I did the grind the day before Kim and I were to be married.

It was a special time to contemplate our upcoming wedding day.

During that year’s run, I was listening to a playlist and some of the song lyrics were perfect for that weekend. “Wherever you may go, you’ll always know. Faithful I’ll be with you.”

It seemed an appropriate song to hear the day before we were to stand up together and promise faithfulness.

This year was different as it was a time to look back at the amazing year we enjoyed together as we celebrated our one year anniversary this May long weekend.

On Saturday, one of the songs on my playlist, shortly before I reached the summit, included the lines, “Yeah I knew it was going to take time. But it’s true you were meant to be mine. And the view is worth the climb.”

Looking back on the past year, the view from here has been worth every step of the climb.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.

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