Mutianyu Great Wall

17 Oct

Great Wall long stepsI woke feel a bit ropey this morning. We’ve been eating really well, lots of gorgeous fresh Chinese food but yesterday it was a bit greasier… who knows what caused it but I really wasn’t sure which way the day would go so decided a long walk would sort me out one way or another 🙂

From the outset at around 9am it was hot and we had to walk from our hotel at the bottom of the valley up to the Great Wall. Oh my goodness, it looked high and far away, and for the next couple of hours at least we walked uphill.  We started on the road for what felt like an eternity. It was terribly hot, pretty steep and there were times when I felt dreadful. I tried to keep up with my normal walking buddies but kept slipping back. I couldn’t quite work out why it was such hard work. At the top of the road we were finally at the foot of the hill and started zig-zagging up the paths to the top. Bizarrely this instantly felt easier – in part because we were walking through trees.

As we finally climbed the steps onto the Great Wall we met some other tourists who looked at us with great surprise and admiration and said “Have you really just walked all the way up?”. We were all suddenly superheroes and the exhaustion of the climb was behind us. They had come up on the cable car (if only I’d known there was one!!). I suddenly realised I felt better, so the steep arduous climb had indeed sorted me out.

At the Wall we had a choice – either a couple of hours extension walk or waiting whilst the back of the group caught up and just chilling until those on the extension walk came back. So of course in the spirit of the challenge I signed up for the extension walk.

Deborah #ihaveguts stepsI think yesterday I said it was the steepest toughest climbs we had done. Well scratch that, it was today! 500+ incredibly steep steps below the first watch tower which were extremely daunting to look at but in fact were better once you were doing it. I cannot believe how far I’ve come over these last few months of training and trekking. Just a few months ago there was no way I could have climbed those stairs and smiled at the top, but today I did!

We then went on and did another four similar watchtower climbs. Only a small group of us went the full distance but we were buzzing from the sheer hard work, sense of achievement and awesome views.

Once we re-joined the group we all walked along the Wall for the descent, but, of course, there were a few final twists.  In fact before we could go down we had to go up so we were back climbing in 80 degree heat.  Eventually we had three options – we could walk down, go by cable car or toboggan. Personally I liked the walking option but everyone else wanted to toboggan (why??) so I decided to face my fears and join them. After all I’ve jumped out of a plane; surely it couldn’t be worse than that!

Great Wall viewFor surreal experiences, it was quite hard to beat… Tobogganing 2km downhill in 80 degree heat with the Great Wall towering above you is something I will always remember. But I’m such a wimp, I’d quite like to have taken it steadily but could hear group members whooping with delight behind me, itching to go faster, so I did my best to speed up and was delighted when I finally reached the bottom.  After that and the exhausting trek I feel a sense of achievement today. I have definitely pushed myself very hard and been pleased that both my mind and body have risen to the challenge.

Sadly tomorrow is our last day on the Great Wall. We will only walk for a couple of hours before taking our final group pictures and heading back to Beijing for the next couple of days. I’m pining already for the views.

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One Response to “Mutianyu Great Wall”

  1. Helen Johnson October 17, 2014 at 11:35 am #

    Oh blimey Deborah I felt exhausted reading that…well done for surviving the day after feeling a bit rough earlier!!! good luck & take care xxx

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