We had walked to our accommodation yesterday after a challenging day covering 27 watch towers across remote sections of the wall.
We were to walk twenty watch towers before a stop for lunch, our guide describing that there were many undulating sections. This became a bit of a joke and we soon came to realise if our Chinese guide Michael said ‘undulating’ it was going to be relentless ascents and descents of steep steps. I know I go on about views being spectacular or amazing but the views here of the mountains are absolutely incredible as the wall snakes its way over the mountain ridges.
I had heard some cheering from other trekkers ahead of me and wondered what was going on as I climbed the last flight of narrow steps into the watch tower. The sight as I made it into the doorway is something I’ll never forget. People lined the watch tower and had made an arch of trekking poles that they were tapping as they sung ‘The Grand old duke of York’, as every trekker made their way through the doorway there was cheering and singing. I was completely overwhelmed as I joined the line to welcome the next person and the tears flowed, it was so emotional and I wasn’t the only one to have a few tears. The enormity of what I was achieving and what I had overcome to be able to do this trek had hit me. Also, the amazing camaraderie of our group and how 38 strangers had come together to help each other through the tough bits.
It was hard going and even though I had the euphoria of earlier making it up the slope and the singing I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do an extra six watch towers. There was lots of climbing down steps taller than me and some very tricky sections. My hips were feeling good but I wasn’t sure how far I could push myself with lots of leg work. It wasn’t until I seemed to have lost a few people and me and a lovely lady were on our own that we came across one of the trek leaders. We asked about the others behind and he made some comment about them having a rest but we were carrying on. We then made it past a few more watch towers and found our group sat having lunch and we joined them inside a watch tower on the floor. It was then revealed to us that we had already done the extra three towers and were with the group who had carried on for an extra challenge. I laughed, I did wonder if our leader had a twinkle in his eye when he told us we were carrying on! If this was a difficult as it was going to get I knew what to expect on the way back at least.
Our accommodation that evening was at a hotel with a proper shower and pillows, and we had a lovely Chinese meal in the hotel restaurant. In our evening briefing we were told about the brick we would be able to place in the wall as part of a restoration project with a special note dedicated to whoever we wanted. That set the tears off again on what had been a brilliant but emotional day. I went to bed proud of myself that I had walked the extra watch towers.
In my next blog, we tackle some of the most famous parts of the wall, climbing 1,000 steps before 496 more up to the Heavenly ladder.
For more photos and videos of our Hip2trek adventures check out my Facebook page.
Thank you to my fellow trekkers, my ‘China Family’ for the use of some of their photos.
Have you trekked anywhere? I’d love to hear about where you’ve visited.