Stair Workout at Swallow Cliff


This beast is Swallow Cliff Falls near Palos Park, Illinois.

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It’s a 100-foot high bluff formed 12,000 years ago when glacial meltwater carved out the Sag Valley, leaving behind steep walls and a varied landscape of morainal hills and pothole lakes.

The Civilian Conservation Corp built 125 limestone stairs in the 1930s that lead to the top of a toboggan run. It’s a popular exercise destination for fitness buffs and casual walkers.

And it owned me as I spent 90 minutes over two days hauling myself up and down it for stair work.

Day 1 was tough. I made it up and down seven times with a 10 pound backpack. I don’t know what was worse about the experience: the two Polish supermodels who frolicked like gazelles, always passing me; or the three year old toddler who did the circuit 3 times with him mom.

My legs were wobbly when I stopped.

Day 2 was tougher. My calves were already tight and sore from the first day, but I pushed myself up and down 10 times with the same backpack.

It was awful; and I did it.

On Saturday, it’s a 5 hour hike along the Illinois & Michigan Canal.

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