Warming Up and Setting Off

Our journey towards our first day of trekking started on the coach as we ventured out into traffic so heavy that it was featured on CNN News. What should have been a journey lasting 30 minutes at most, dragged to well over 90 minutes.

That’s what happens when a country with over a billion inhabitants starts a national holiday.

Upon arrival at the start of our trek, Simon from Action Challenge led the group through some warm up exercises, and then, with day packs hoisted onto backs, we nervously started our climb. 

Today’s trek included both old and new. We started in Badaling on a part of the wall that had been partly restored, but quickly became rustic to the extreme, with the trekkers negotiating long stretches up a broken-down rock and scree path, with incredible vistas north towards the Gobi desert.

The sun shone from a cloudless sky, but thankfully the heat was blown away by a cooling mountain wind. Everyone was grateful for the frequently rest stops as we climbed from one fort to another across the jagged mountain ridges.

Legs, knees and backs were all put to the test, and after over two hours of undulating trekking, we finally reached the highest part of the day’s trek. It just so happened that we were now on the roughest – or wildest – part of the Wall.

 

From now on it was all down hill, and with the wind abating and the heat increasing, everyone’s body – thighs and knees in particular – were put firmly to the test, as we shuffled single-file down some rough, rocky, stretches of wall that reminded some of an unfinished Glasgow Council building site.

This is where walking poles earn their keep, helping take some of the load off your knees and back, while helping you keep your balance on the uneven surfaces. 

And from there we reached the bottom where our coach was waiting to take us to a local farm at which we were treated to what was now becoming typical; a Chinese feast.

Plate after plate of wonderful food was laid before us, washed down by beer and Sprite.

One observation about Chinese dining…Our hosts seem to bring all the meat dishes out first, when they’re finished they bring out vegetable dishes, and then finally the rice, once the meat and veg have been eaten.  This seemed odd to us as back home we typically have the meat, veg and Rice all at once!

And then it was back on the bus and on to Juyong.

The Juyong part of the Wall has been restored by the government, and is very “touristy”. However, this saw some of the hardest climbing, with almost vertical steps, some of which were around 60cm high each. Once again, our bodies were put to the test.

 

Back at the bus it was time for a warm down, swiftly followed by beers and Cokes from the coach’s cooler. We drove back to our hotel with a sense of relief and satisfaction.

Day one on the Wall was under our belt.

Time for more Chinese food…

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