Hiking the Great Wall of China

Two years ago I had the unique pleasure of joining a special tour group which was going to hike the Great Wall of China. This tour was actually organized as part of my friend’s company’s internal benefit program and was intended for employees only. Since my friend knew, however, that I had always wanted to go to the Great Wall and that I was a fan of hiking, she thought it was too good an opportunity for me to miss, so she asked her company for permission for me to join. Fortunately for me it was granted.

The tour had us hiking different sections of the wall; a few of them popular destination spots for tourists but most of which were far off the beaten path and rarely explored. Some sections were so remote or worn down that we required special permission from the Chinese government to walk along them and we were chaperoned by a government official the entire way.

Of course I knew this program would entail climbing a lot of stairs so I started “training” a few months ahead of time by not taking any escalators or elevators but climbing stairs to get to wherever I was going, regardless of what floor it was on. I also tried to get out hiking as often as possible before the journey (though, unfortunately, due to my hectic schedule I was only able to make it out on a few hikes before making the journey over to Beijing).

The tour was for one week with six back-to-back days of hiking, the last day being a sightseeing day in Beijing. The climbs were rough and steep, not to mention rather dangerous at times, but the experience and the views were completely worth it. While not the type of trip many would desire taking, for me it was a chance to see one of the new great wonders of the world from a rare and unique perspective.