Oh dear God!
I did it! I bloody walked along the Great Wall of China! And today I have the shot archilles to prove it.
"It'll take 4hrs" they said. We had been warned that it was tough and in parts dangerous. But being typical kiwis we of course underestimated it. Thinking it would be a leisurely stroll along a crumbling ruin, I set out in high spirits. Of course when you have to rest on the stairs leading up to the wall, you begin to rethink exactly how leisurely this is all going to be. Now as most of the people who know me are aware, I don't exercise. At all. In fact you could almost say I am allergic to it. So huffing and puffing my way up the trail to get to the wall, I was lamenting my lack of affinity with anything requiring physical exersion.
We had 4 hours to complete 10km of tough up and down hiking. Relatively speaking tough I mean. No doubt for the fit buggers out there it was a leisurely stroll in the sunshine.
So we set a quick pace for ourselves, followed along by hawkers of course. At first they were just annoying as all hell but eventually they grew on us and we enjoyed their company. They didn't speak that much English, but made us laugh and gave us encouragement when needed.
It took 1hr 30mins to get half way. Hurrah!
We thought it would only get easier it all being downhill from now on. Alas, we were mistaken. Going down was harder than coming up. The going down bit was hardly restored at all so it was a case of constantly watching where you put your feet. After getting rid of the first two hawkers, we acquired two more. These two were not as much fun and much more agressive in their sales pitch. Eventually we did manage to get rid of them aswell and enjoyed a realtively more peaceful descent to the end.
Don't you just hate it when the end is in sight and you get that little extra burst of energy, only for it to be taken away when you see exactly how high that end is? Yes we had made it to the bit before the end. The end required an almost herculean effort and perserverance. When you are completely cream crackered after three and a half hours of the most exercise you have done in at least 3years, a 70 degree ascent seemed very cruel. But it was done. With little fanfare. And surprisingly willing legs. I almost wished for a catastrophe- a fantastic photo it would have made and a great story!