There were lots of nervous and excited faces waiting for us when we went to Heathrow to meet our China trekkers and start our adventure and after a 12 hour flight; everyone had well and truly bonded and we were all eager to start the challenge and pull on our walking boots!
We chatted about our reasons for fundraising and partaking in this incredible event with truly amazing stories being shared within the group. In total the participants had raised over £46,000 for their chosen causes – an outstanding result which really motivated us all!
After flying into Beijing we met our ground handler, Puma, who would shortly become our favourite person. He told us stories about the history of China, taught us some Chinese phrases and prepared us all for the challenge we were about to embark on.
On our first day of trekking we were introduced ‘The Wall’ for the first time and took on a few sets of those killer stairs! It definitely prepared us all for the rest of the week and we certainly got some good practice in with our walking poles.
The second day was one of the longest as we trekked on some un-restored parts of the wall and went through some stunning forestry which overlooked the mountains. None of the group had been expecting to be taken through such rural routes and were all pleasantly surprised at how beautiful our views were and how isolated the group was on our stretch of crumbled wall.
On this evening we stayed in a rural Chinese village, which was a favourite among the group as they provided us with some delicious traditional Chinese food and a huge bonfire which we all huddled around to discuss our favourite parts of the day.
By this point everyone was in love with the wall and we were all really eager for the next day as we had been promised spectacular views and plenty of photo opportunities!
We weren’t disappointed as this proved to be one of the most ‘picture perfect’ days – we trekked along more un-restored wall and climbed up on top of a tower which provided breathtaking views for miles.
After the long trek yesterday, this was one of our shorter days and definitely one of our hottest!
Our next day trekking took us on some slightly more restored parts of the wall but here we faced some of our hardest and steepest climbs with a lot of stairs!
We had definitely all perfected our ‘I’m just going to stand here and take photographs of the scenery for a while’ routine every time we wanted a stair break!
We had our lunch on one of the crumbling towers overlooking the winding wall and congratulated each other on how far we had come already.
Our leader, Eleni, and our doctor, Chet, were incredible motivators and kept the whole group going – making us all laugh, ensuring everyone was having an amazing time and keeping us all happy and, most importantly, hydrated!
Our final few days passed in a blur – we trekked through beautiful farmland, over more un-restored wall, stayed in a hotel where we had dinner in a giant greenhouse and showered in a glass box which overlooked the mountains, climbed a lot more stairs and truly bonded as a group and had such fun getting to know each other and taking on the challenge together.
Before we knew it, it was our last day and we were exposed to the busy, restored aspect of the wall. The views were still as stunning but we were able to experience an entirely different side to the trek compared to the rural routes we had grown used to.
We all pulled on our red ‘I trekked the Great Wall’ t-shirts and took on our final hurdle as we made our way through the finish line. There were lots of tears and hugging and celebrations and finishing the event was such an emotional and overwhelming moment for everyone.
After taking about a thousand photographs and hugging everyone another a thousand times, the group separated as some chose to take the chairlift back to base and others chose to toboggan down the wall.
Once we were all back together we returned to the hotel, got ready for our celebration meal and then went out in Beijing to eat incredible Peking duck, experience some of the Beijing bars and give out our group postcards and prizes.
Eleni had written an amazing, and hilarious, poem about everyone in the group and we toasted to everyone’s fantastic achievement. We were all so sad the challenge had come to an end (I’m not sure our thighs were that sad though!)
The next day we had a chance to explore the Forbidden City and say our goodbye’s to China. It had been an emotional, exhilarating, challenging and awe-inspiring week for everyone and all of our trekkers had been fantastic and strong throughout the challenge.
I was truly honoured to spend the week with this group who had overcome huge personal obstacles both before the trek and during – they were each fundraising for fantastic causes and hearing their stories and reasons behind their decision to take on the challenge was an extremely humbling experience.
We wouldn’t have been able to do this event without Chet, Eleni and Puma who were there for us, keeping us motivated, at every minute.
We would also like to take this time to thank blister plasters, hydration packs and sugary sweets for their help in some of our more trying times!!
To see our footage from the trek head here: https://youtu.be/3qXRob7CAAg
And if this sounds like the challenge for you head to: http://skylineoverseas.co.uk/trek-china.aspx