Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Giant Stairway

We watched as all that mist came around and spilled into the valley in front of us. It was almost like that scene in Lord Of The Rings when the waves rush through the river bend like charging horses, except this was calm and gentle.

Last time we visited the Blue Mountains, we didn't have time to do the Giant Stairway so we did it this time around.

This is the arch at the top of the stairway. There's a lookout point that lets you see the Jamison Valley, like you can at Echo Point, but this time, you're looking at it from beside the Three Sisters.

Our first stop was across the little bridge in this small space in the side of the first Sister. There was a lot of stopping, and walking ahead to capture different angles and moments during our hike down.

Stairs were carved into the side of the cliff, though some portions have metal stairs. It's a pretty steep hike but Nathan managed well enough. There are railings which were really helpful for those worn stone stairs, and for those extra high ones. We learned from our previous Sydney/Blue Mountain experience that it's best to have Caleb securely strapped into a carrier because if he was in anyone's arms, he'd definitely wriggle out. 

This "1/2 WAY" marking was found at one of the rest points but we're not sure how accurate it is. It could very well be carved into the ground by some tourist stopping to catch their breath. 

We zig-zagged all the way down the front of the cliff. This photo doesn't do any justice to just how far away the rest of my family actually was. 

The hike down wasn't too bad. I think the hardest parts were when the step was uneven or sloped forward, and when there were other tourists heading back up to the top and you had to pass each other along this very narrow walk way. Luckily, most of these occurred when we were at designated rest stops that had a bit more space for one group to stand aside while the others walked by.

At the bottom of the Giant Stairway, there was a bit of disappointment that we weren't rewarded with a spectacular view or anything of that sort. We could have hiked to the left further into the forest, or right, towards the Scenic Railway. Both hikes would have taken at least a few more hours, something we hadn't planned to do, so we went with our original plan to climb back up.

There are 896 steps from top to bottom, and we knew going up would be a lot more work than coming down. However, despite taking more rest breaks, actually using those benches we waltzed by earlier in the day, and breaking out in a bit of sweat, we made it back to the top a lot faster than we had expected. 

In fact, we had a bit of time to walk around the little town before the shops closed for the night. 

We rewarded ourselves with a hearty Korean dinner that night and hopped into bed for some very well-deserved rest.

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