1,000 steps, watchtowers and the famous Heavenly ladder – China trek series

This is next part of my China trek series where I took part in a charity trek on the Great Wall of China. You can see what happened yesterday and how I walked more watchtowers than anticipated in this post; Jinshanling, a day of Watchtowers and emotions.
Day 6 of my China trek, yesterday had been tough and an emotional and memorable day but today I would face the famous Heavenly ladder after climbing 1,000 steps and crossing several watchtowers.
I had been looking forward to seeing this part of the Great Wall and climbing the steps of the Heavenly Ladder, but I knew it was listed as a tough day in our itinerary and despite walking up thousands of steps already to see that we started off climbing a thousand steps seemed somewhat daunting. We had a coach transfer to a tourist section of the wall at Mutianyu, there were lots of stalls, shops and even a Subway which is where our lunch was made to be carried in our backpacks.
Our reward at the end of the day would be a choice of how we got back down off the wall, either walk back down all those steps (no way!), cable car or toboggan and I’d already decided how I wanted to get down. It had to be by the Toboggan! I’d watched videos on YouTube and it looked awesome, and it’s not every day you can say you took a toboggan down the Great Wall! 
This part of the wall is where famous dignitaries and presidents are taken by cable car to have their photo taken on the Wall. No such luck for us, we had to face the steps and although they are in good condition they are quite steep. A group of us worked together setting ourselves a target to make it to the next landing, then a little rest to get our breath back before the next flight of steps started. One of the group leaders had been playing music on speakers attached to his backpack earlier on in the trek, so we asked if he had any music that would inspire us to climb these. The first few beats reached us of ‘Eye of the Tiger’, just what we needed and it helped spur us on. The going was tough and had I not been concentrating on my breathing I might have sung along!
Once up on the wall itself we walked along covering over 11 watchtowers, there were quite a few tourists and this restored section of the wall was in good condition but still got the legs and thighs working with high steps and constant ups and downs.
To get to the start of the Heavenly ladder we had to climb up some steps inside a watchtower and emerged on to the top of it where the steps up the heavenly ladder started again. Already the views across the mountains were incredible if just a little misty in the distance. I was relieved when our group leader told us for this section we didn’t need to take our backpack and poles. Armed with selfie stick and action camera I headed for the steps. This was the moment I had been looking forward to, it would be the last challenging part of the trek to tick off and everything I had been working towards was now coming to an end. 496 steps to get to the top, the last climb being close to a 45° angle. I was feeling confident; another flight of stairs wasn’t going to stop me and I had come so far. Literally.
I reached the top of the heavenly ladder, the last flight of steps being incredibly narrow as well as steep, I’d done it! The views were amazing and we had time for group photos before making our way back down. It was certainly easier going back down the steps. At the bottom landing, we all sat around the watchtower for our slightly melted subway lunch. It was the best thing I’d tasted that day after a strange breakfast of fried rice and pickled egg and I was starving.
Back across several more watchtowers, and after a startling view of a Bride in full red wedding dress having pictures taken on the wall, we made our way to the toboggan area.
It might have been over in minutes but it was a fantastic experience to whizz down to the bottom on the toboggan and a well-deserved treat after climbing all those stairs. If you watch the video I am screaming and whooping like a big kid.

After regrouping we had a coach transfer to our next accommodation, with dinner and a tour of a jade factory. I was good and didn’t batter the credit card as much as I could have done!
Tomorrow would be our final mission, helping restore part of the wall at Badaling and place our special notes. Would I be able to do it without crying!
For more videos and photos of my China trek please visit my Hip2trek Facebook page.
Kind thanks to my China family for the use of some of their photos.
​If you’ve trekked anywhere let me know, I’m looking for another adventure!
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4 comments Add yours
  1. I’ve loved reading about China, and this was great. A tough day but so worth it and that toboggan ride looks awesome! More walks should end with that, especially as I hate walking downhill! There’s nothing stopping you now, where’s the next adventure?! Thanks for sharing with us at #AdventureCalling

    1. Ha ha yes it would be good if more walks ended like this the kids would love that! There is no stopping me now, I quite fancy another trek abroad maybe 2019 if I save up!

  2. What an experience. I have so enjoyed this series and again it makes me green with envy haha. The views on this section are amazing. And yes, you definitely chose the best way back down! Love the video of it too. Thanks for joining us on #adventurecalling calling I hope you can again tomorrow.

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