This is the third part of my China trek series as I trek parts of the Great Wall of China for charity.
I felt good after yesterday’s trek and ready for what would be one of the longest and toughest days. We’d spent the night in home-stay accommodation and our rooms were off the courtyard dining room, the only downside being that breakfast preparations had started at 5am and woken me. After a Chinese breakfast of noodle soup, we’d made our own pack lunches and set off.
This part of the wall from Gubeikou to Jinshanling was remote, with narrow paths leading high up into the mountains, many parts in disrepair and some dangerous sections. We would have to be careful today and at the previous night’s briefing we’d been told to make sure to have our insurance documents on us and to let the leaders know where to find them should we need them. Crikey where were we going!
With 38 people in our group, plus local guides, group leaders and Doctor we walked in single file up a narrow dirt path through bushes climbing higher and higher up the steps to get to the top of the wall. As we emerged from the undergrowth the path again climbed and I felt particularly vulnerable stood on this path with a big drop either side and a small breeze building. The scenery is absolutely jaw dropping, the mountains all around us and in the distance covered in haze. I paid attention to my feet as we continued across the narrow path, some parts with dilapidated wall, some parts just dirt, rubble and rock. I’m not great with heights and it was easy to get distracted from the great view but you had to keep your wits about you.
It was an amazing day, tough in many places with the steps and rocky sections and with so many watch towers to cover we would have to walk up many old brick-made steps, walk through the tower and then there would steep steps down the other side. I had my lunch on top of a mountain inside one of the watch towers. We all sat in any space we could find around the ruins of the tower and the views were amazing. My feet were hot; the heat had been intense and I took the opportunity to take off my boots and treat some hot spots that were threatening to turn into blisters.
After lunch we covered more watch towers and more steps, finally having to come off the wall and take steep dirt paths to navigate around this section of the wall that was closed for the military. We walked through lush undergrowth, past dirt covered fields and we even found some bamboo as we made our way to a remote farmhouse for a break. The farm had a freezer full of ice lollies and it was a welcome treat to sit on a little metal stool and munch the lolly.
We set off again working our way up an incredibly steep single file dirt track, I was grateful for my walking poles helping me to keep me on my feet as I nearly slid back down into the person behind me. We had many interesting sections here as we walked back up to the wall and past the military zone, more sections to climb and holes to negotiate. I had to concentrate so much that I didn’t take any photos in the afternoon for fear of letting go of my poles.
After re-joining the wall and another eight watch towers we walked down more steps to a steep winding driveway and into a more tourist area with little stalls now lining our way. After some group stretching exercises we walked to our accommodation and the welcome sight was a little pub! I was tired, feet a little sore but happy to have managed another day on the wall without incident.
In my next blog; The trek continues, we see incredible views and I accidentally walk more watch towers than anticipated!
For more photos and videos from my time in China head over to my Facebook page.
Have you trekked somewhere exciting? let me know.