Jinshanling towards Simatai

15 Oct

Great Wall morning viewLast night was thankfully not so cold and we managed to get our room heater to work, albeit weakly, but that was very much better than the night before. Only one jumper last night 🙂 I slept like a log after the long day of walking and was truly grateful for the lie-in until 7am.

After breakfast we started trekking from where we left off yesterday to re-join the Wall. The long walk uphill certainly woke us all up.

Great Wall trekToday has been perhaps the most challenging trek so far because the wall goes up and down over the mountains around Jinshanling. It is an incredible construction feat but sheer madness so we’ve given thanks and remembered the thousands upon thousands of people who built and re-built the Wall in appalling conditions over hundreds of years.

Watchtowers punctuate the Wall regularly here and each one seemed to be higher than the one before, yet there was always a steep drop between them. Ouch! The steps have been both deep and steep in many places today and for the first time there were also smooth sections of surface between the watchtowers – a bit like a skateboard ramp – but thankfully these were punctuated by small ridges. Only willpower, zig-zagging and calf muscle got me up the steep climbs today, but I did it!

Great Wall stepsI’m pleased the organisers left this walk until today as I felt more psychologically prepared for it and my legs muscles are also less painful. My journey on the trek has been interesting as I’ve grown in confidence about my ability to complete it successfully. I am clearly not particularly fit but have been labelled as part of the “A team” because I’ve been walking as part of the front group. In part it has been the challenge of keeping up that has got me through this, but also several of us in this front group are of a similar age,  in similarly demanding jobs and I think we have all enjoyed the silences as much as the chats. However I have certainly loved the group camaraderie as we’ve regrouped and in the evenings.

Bizarrely today’s walk ended too soon for many of us as we had to pick up the coach to move onto our next destination. I guess the only explanation is that the views are so breath-taking they leave you wanting more, even if it means another few watchtower climbs!

During our last two days we will be trekking in the area of Mutianyu, where apparently the Wall is quite touristy as it’s reconstructed. That will undoubtedly be great to see but I suspect we will all miss the quietness of earlier days.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my lovely friend Gail whilst I’ve been here in China.  I’ve been fortunate to know Gail for a few years now because she has advanced bowel cancer.   She is one of life’s wonderful people – extraordinarily kind, warm, funny and generous – and I hate the fact that I can’t do more to help her. I would so like to have met her in other circumstances.

View from the top of the Great WallWhen I was choosing a trek I asked lots of people with advanced bowel cancer where to go and they choose China. Gail told me she’d have liked to do this trek and then go and see the Terracotta Army but is obviously too poorly, so after the trek I’m going to do that for her. I hope my pictures and updates will give her a taste of this amazing experience and I simply wish we could be here together.

I’m trekking to improve the treatment and care of people with advanced bowel cancer. Please sponsor me:


Or text GUTS72 £5 or £10 to 70070

3 Responses to “Jinshanling towards Simatai”

  1. Emma Anderson October 15, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    This journey sounds incredible. Well done Deborah, you are doing so well. Em x

  2. Helen Johnson October 15, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    Hi Deborah, love reading about your trek as I’m sure is Gail! good luck & keep smiling I know hiw difficult it must be! xxx


  1. Challenges and reflections | Taking Action: Deborah's blog - October 29, 2014

    […] Beijing and Xi’an where I visited the Terracotta Army, inspired, as I mentioned in an earlier post, by my patient friend Gail.  I’m pleased I spent the extra days as it gave me a greater insight […]

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