Journey to the three Border Stone

13 Oct

Deborah Monday viewAfter a freezing cold night we were up again at 6.15am to prepare for the day ahead. Breakfast was Chinese porridge and pancakes which was interesting but I was grateful for the warmth of the porridge.  After our daily briefing, filling up out water systems and some warm up stretches, we began.

We started straight uphill – ouch! My calf muscles are very painful and tight from the big climb the day before so it was a struggle to get going but after a while as I warmed up it became easier.  We didn’t walk much on the wall today, rather next to it as it is largely destroyed in this area around Tian Jian. We eventually reached the top of the Yan Shan (Shan apparently means mountain) where there is a 3 border stone. The three borders it joins are Hebei (closest province to Mongolia), Tian Jian and the Beijing province. From here the panoramic views are quite breathtaking over the mountain ranges and you can see the (broken) wall stretching out in many directions. Wow!

The weather was tremendous – not super-hot but pleasant with the most incredible clear blue sky – our first so far. The truth is, whilst I am a bit tired and achy, what a huge privilege to be able to sit at the top of Yan mountain and soak in the views. So many of my friends with advanced bowel cancer have told me how much they would like to be doing this with me, yet are just too poorly, so I feel I must soak in the views and experiences for them too.

Deborah Three County Stone selfieOur local guide Alan gave us a wonderful talk at the top of the mountain about the ‘one child’ policy in china and generally about population change, as we rested. He is so interesting and knowledgeable it’s fantastic that every day he talks to us about different aspects of Chinese life.

Our trek leader Jen then briefed us on what was next and also took time to remind us about all we have accomplished by getting this far. It was a lovely moment that moved us all.  Many, like me, are facing their own demons and pushing themselves to go that extra mile to make a difference.  As Jen reminded us:

“Life is not about how long you live or how many breaths you take but about how many moments take your breath away”

And this was certainly one of them.

After we descended the hill, we followed the road down to where the bus was picking us up. We then drove for 2.5 hours to reach the Jinshanling section of the Wall closer to Mongolia. Oh my goodness, the mountains are big and the Wall looks awesome with its many watchtowers, like scales on a dragon’s back. It does mean however that tomorrow is going to be another 8-hour day, including a steep uphill climb. Every step hurts at the moment, so it will be a challenge but hey, with help from tiger balm and Ibroprufen gel I will do it and I definitely can’t wait to see those views!

Unrepaired section of Great Wall of ChinaI’ve been grateful to be able to be able to connect with my family today. I received a lovely email from my little girl, with lots of questions (clearly prompted by her teachers) about what I’m up to… And a later text sent from her Daddy’s phone telling me how much she wants me to come home. Gulp. I’ve heard from my husband and boys too in the last few days and I’m grateful.  I do miss them all terribly. It’s hard juggling the responsibilities of home and work but I hope in time all my children will be proud that I’m prepared to step up to the challenge and take action for something I believe in.

I was also pleased to catch up with some of my patient friends today via Twitter (I had a good internet connection for once). Some of them are having a really tough time at the moment and know they will not be around too much longer. It makes my heart ache and so as I face my fears and take on this challenge I do so for them. I may not be able to do anything useful for them personally (which I hate) but I am totally committed to trying to stop this happening in the future.

Please help by supporting Bowel Cancer UK’s Time For Guts campaign, which seeks to save lives and improve the treatment and care of people with advanced disease, by sponsoring me:

www.justgiving.com/deborahalsina1

or text GUTS72 £5 or £10 to 70070

Thank you.

One Response to “Journey to the three Border Stone”

  1. Lesley Shannon October 13, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    Thanks for sharing each day and step of the journey with us Deborah it is so interestin and looks like you are eith good group of folks just like the twitter family, good group of friends.

    Nice you got to hear from the family and twitter friends too.

    Such a wonderful opportunity and amazing to hear about it and that it is for everyone affected by bowel cancer and their families and friends.

    Thanks Deborah.

    Savour ever single step especially for those who are really struggling at the moment.

    Hugs when its cold.

    Lesley x

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