The Great
Hike at the
Great Wall...
Isn't it 'great'???
Sam, Dave and I taking a picture break.
Walking down one part of the wall.
Back to China.
October 4, 2006

I went down to my hotel lobby this morning at 7:30am to catch the bus to the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall. To my surprise,
Sam and Dave (a couple of new friends from my train trip) were standing there waiting. They were catching the same bus.

I was a bit disillusioned by thinking this outing would be a ‘half day’ gig. It turned out to be an all-day and all-night affair. Maybe I
should have read up a bit more because I assumed the drive out to Jinshanling was about 1 ½ hours. I stood to be corrected as we
arrived at 12:00pm. Just a tad bit longer than I would have liked to spend on a small, cramped bus. I guess the good news was that
I would have more than a great opportunity to stretch my legs out…in the form of a ten kilometer hike along the wall. Sam, Dave
and I ended up hiking it together. It was about 12:30pm when we moved away from Jinshanling and towards Simatai. Our bus
driver gave us four hours to complete this. The pressure was now on…

From the get-go the stairs were steep. Very, very steep. This was a bit less of a hike and a bit more of an extremely difficult session
on the Stairmaster. The kind where you are pushing your leg down with all its might and it still isn’t moving. Welcome to the Great

This Great Wall hike has about thirty towers from beginning to end. These towers went more than appreciated as they were great
places to shade ourselves from the bright sun and catch our breath. And the views weren’t too bad either. Okay, a slight
understatement. Well, maybe a large understatement. The scenery was
so much more beautiful than I imagined. The mountains
and hills went on forever. I could only imagine how stunning it was be in the morning when the Wall and mountains are rising out of
the fog.

By 3:00pm we were wrapping up our hike. We could see the end in sight and we slowed our pace so that we could take in the last of
this great wonder. Luckily for me, in the final part of the hike there were adorable little donkeys hanging out. Who knew I would get
to see those adorable creatures standing right next to the Great Wall of China? But they would still come in second to the Chinese
guy at Tower #18 smoking a joint.

In the end, this hike was not nearly as difficult as I was imagining it was going to be. That being said, it wasn’t a cake walk. There
were many times that a person could slip and fall either due to lack of shoe traction or loss of balance. I almost find it a miracle that
none of the three of us fell victim to this.

And now it was time to catch our bus at 4:00pm. Everybody was sitting around the bus waiting. And waiting. And waiting. At 6:
00pm, we would finally be on our way. I guess the good thing that came out of it was that I made a new friend who was on the other
bus (as they also had to wait until 6:00pm). Her name is Rosie and she is most recently from Washington, D.C. – though she lived in
San Francisco for five years before moving there. She is traveling on her own for eight months and there is a chance that we might
cross paths in South America. It was fun listening to her plans – and trying to relieve her of her fears of traveling to India as a lone

It was 9:00pm when we finally got back to the hotel. Sam, Dave and I went to dinner at the same restaurant we went to on Night
#1 in Beijing. Being completely stuffed wasn’t the only thing that would slow me down for our walk back to our hotel…my hips had
already stiffened. If they are this affected now, I can only imagine how tomorrow is going to be…