The Giant Staircase

I have lived in the Blue Mountains for more than 15 years and I have never done this particular bush walk before.  And to be honest, I’m not in too much of a hurry to do it again – though I will do it again when my fitness levels have improved.  In fact, I have challenged myself to walk it again this time next year – with a “few” extra stairs for good measure.  I have been encouraged by someone who did the walk with me last Thursday to give it a go over Easter this year.  Maybe.

The walk starts at Echo Point, Katoomba – near the Three Sisters.  After a short walk down a track we hit the staircase.  About 910 stairs down into the valley.  Some of them sandstone, some of them steel, pretty much all of them narrow.  When I get to the top of the staircase I realise why I may never have attempted this before.  Me and my stomach just don’t like heights.  Can you see my white knuckles? (I’m the one in the middle – clutching the handrail as if my life depended on it.)

To add to my dislike of heights is the fear that I am going to do my ankle an injury on this walk.  The steps are quite narrow and uneven.  So why am I going through with this you ask?  After all I could have turned back at the top of the stairs.

For me this journey with 12wbt is all about moving out of my comfort zone and challenging myself.  I knew I was in no danger – the worst thing was I felt bad that I was holding the group up because I was so slow.  There were times when going down the stairs I wasn’t having the most fun of my life – but getting to the bottom of the staircase was a wonderful feeling.  I proved to myself again that I can do anything if I set my mind to it.  And it proves that having the support of other 12wbt members is invaluable.  (It also helped that because of my fear of hurting my ankle, my eyes were pretty much watching my feet all the way down – which meant I wasn’t overtly aware of the heights involved!)

The other reason for doing it was to gauge the improvement in my fitness over time.  It’s what Michelle Bridges would refer to as a milestone event.  As I said in the first paragraph in this post I will be doing it in the future – and I know through consistency in my training I will be stronger and fitter – and the stairs won’t be half as difficult for me as they were last week.  This is us at the bottom of the staircase.  I was so relieved to get down there!  The challenges you may take on as part of this transformation will vary from this particular one – but positive feeling you get when you have achieved it is worth all the effort.

And my final reason for doing this – six other 12wbt members were doing it, I was on holidays and I only live 25 minutes away – how could I say no?  The picture on the left show s the seven of us at the bottom of the staircase – official photographer was the partner of one of the members in the photo.  The companionship and encouragement helped me through this challenge.  And the chance to have lunch and coffee at the end of it all was pretty good incentive.

But the walk isn’t over yet!  We then headed along the track towards Scenic World.  It is about 2.5kms to Scenic World from the bottom of the Giant Staircase.  The plan was to catch the Scenic Railway back up to the cliff top.  It was a great walk along the track – and I have never done a bush walk at such a fast pace! It took one hour and fifteen minutes from the top of the staircase to the Scenic Railway platform.  I burned 543 calories in that time – so I was very happy with that.  Three of us took the railway back up to Scenic World – but just before we came to the platform we came across the Furber Steps.  Five members of our group chose to take the stairs back out the valley – and then walk the two and a bit kilometres back to Echo Point.  Given my jelly legs – I didn’t even give that option any consideration.   I really admire their tenacity and their willingness to take that option – one day in the future I’d like to do it too.

I am so glad I did it.  However, the next day my thighs were really sore – and walking up and down stairs (or ramps) was excruciating.   Needless to say I didn’t do a workout on Friday – but I pushed through the lingering soreness on Saturday to do a 5.5km walk, a Sh’Bam class and an hour workout on cardio equipment – it was SSS afterall!  And actually getting some exercise on the Saturday did help to relieve the soreness.

So, if you plan to do this walk next time you’re in the mountains my advice is don’t do it alone and take plenty of water.  You can park at Echo Point (about $12 for three hours) or for free at Scenic World.  The trolley bus operates a shuttle between Scenic World and Echo Point ($2.10) and the ride back up on the Scenic Railway is $11 – you pay at the top.

My thanks to Jayne for the photos – I was way to scared of my phone falling down a cliff to take any photos of my own!

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Amanda Hyatt
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 21:13:02

    Wow! Well done, you! What a fantastic start to pre-season 12wbt – look at all those fears you conquered, friends you made and … calories burned!! You did brilliantly – and what a wonderful benchmark. I’m willing to bet that when (not ‘if’ lol) you do this again at Easter you are going to be truly amazed. You’ve got exactly what it takes to absolutely smash your weight loss and fitness in the next 12 weeks (and more) so GO GO GO! Stop doubting yourself. You deserve this, you are strong and you are an inspiration!


    • noni22
      Jan 10, 2012 @ 21:43:48

      Thanks Amanda 🙂
      I have to be honest – the thought of doing it again at Easter gives me jelly legs just sitting here. But I’m not saying no just yet!
      Leonie x


  2. Sue Rutherford
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 22:04:20

    Leonie, you can really see how much weight you have lost in that top photo. You look great! I recently did a similar walk (but not as steep) in the Blue Mountains when on holidays. Really hard going!!


    • noni22
      Jan 11, 2012 @ 08:18:21

      Thanks Sue 🙂
      I look at photos and I can’t see any difference – which is always so disappointing because I feel so good! 😉 Last Thursday made me realise I need to get out on the walks more with my family – but maybe the ones without stairs!
      Leonie x


  3. Jayne
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 23:39:03

    Your doing it again in Easter?! I may just have to join you again!! Love your blog Leonie!!! Looking forward to following your journey x


    • noni22
      Jan 11, 2012 @ 08:21:19

      Hi Jayne 🙂
      Thanks for the kind words. Easter – I’m just not sure 😉 – but the lovely Michelle tried to talk me into it at PitP on Sunday. I’m pretty sure she’ll be going – she’s talking about going down the Furber Steps and up the Giant Staircase – don’t know if I’ll be ready for that by then??? I’ll meet you all for lunch though 😉
      Leonie x


  4. Sandra
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 09:59:15

    Oh Leonie…I hate heights…fear them, actually…so I think you were so brave to do it…talk about pushing out of your comfort zone.
    I can also see a big difference in your weight from past photos…well done!


    • noni22
      Jan 11, 2012 @ 10:40:15

      It seriously did help that I was so focused on looking at my feet! Thanks for noticing the difference 🙂 Can’t wait to actually see it myself if you know what I mean.
      Leonie x


  5. Dhitri
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 13:36:50

    Well done, Leonie! It’s an amazing challenge. The stairs look pretty steep to me! I am sure in a few weeks time, you’ll be able to conquer them again and even shave off minutes off your time! Love your determination. Can’t wait to follow your progress on here, really enjoying all of your blog and forum posts!


  6. Sarah
    May 30, 2012 @ 22:10:04

    Great effort! Those stairs are steep and long!!! Might have to give this a go myself!
    I am curious – did you go at Easter?


    • 77noni
      Jun 02, 2012 @ 01:06:14

      Hi there Sarah 🙂

      I highly recommend the challenge.

      I went back in April. This time we went down the Furber Steps, along the 2.5km bush track, up the Giant Staircase (my fear of heights really didn’t bother me too much doing it that way 😉 ) and along footpaths for 2.5kms back to our starting point. And at one point I accepted a challenge from someone in the Sydneysiders and I ran up some stairs! (Got that on video lol) As soon as I remember to ask my good friend – the one with the video – for her photos I’ll write up a blog post.

      I am planning to do it again in the July school holidays. I put it as an event in four facebook groups, and I have been blown away by the number of people who want to give it a go. Maybe you should join us??? 😉

      Leonie x


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