Elli and Mitchell's walking trip in China - July 2007
By Elli Tappan
 We went on a World Expeditions Company 'Great Wall Explorer' guided  trip. There were 4 Aussies, 2 Brits, 3 other Yanks, Mitch and myself. We hiked and camped for five nights along the Great Wall between Mt Simatai and the town of Gubeku, northeast of Beijing. The weather was around 950F/340C and 95 % humidity each day with brief thunderstorms in the evenings. At 11 1/2 Mitch was the youngest person to have done this trip. He could always be found at the front of the line. A Chinese family traveled ahead of us to set up camp and feed us.

    Adjusting straps, checking gear, ready to start.

  Walking through a town in the mid-day heat.

  The Wall runs along that distant ridge top.

  Our path brings us up to the Wall at last. It's an amazing feeling to be here!

  First campsite is just below the farthest bit of Wall.

   Beer, sodas, juice and watermelon await us.

  I hid in the center of the cornfield for a sponge bath.

  The necessary hole! Primitive but adequate.

  2nd day - we'll lunch at the farthest peak, Mt Simitai

  Our guide Ken, a Tasmanian, spoke fluent Chinese and made the history interesting.

  The guard tower where we ate box lunches and contemplated the horrors of building the Wall.

  Back at camp after a long day, hot water for a quick wash before our drinks and snacks..

   The family did the cooking in that distant house.

   A rest after serving breakfast and before packing up..

  Mitch in his 'I Climbed The Wall'  tee shirt.

  These workers are bringing fallen rocks back up to repair a section of the Wall.

   A strong cool breeze blew through this guard tower.

   I could certainly feel the age and  incredible length of the Wall in these tourist free areas.

  We camped right around this farm house.

  We climbed back up to the Wall each morning from farm villages through terraced fields.

  Ken and Mitch leading the way westward.

  Campsite near the town of Gubeku. Welcome shade!

  The campsite was in the woods at the bend of the river.

  The family (cook in red) who cared so well for us all.
One day Mitch went with the group on a hot and challenging loop hike to the Wall on the mountain right above the Gubeku campsite while I spent the day walking through small villages. Took dozens of photos! The last two hiking days were less impressive, being in touristed areas and with such humidity that there were limited views. The tour included three days of sightseeing in Beijing and then Mitch and I took the night train to Xian for a few days in that city. We enjoyed the entire China trip but hiking the Great Wall was what we will always remember! We flew to Sydney and then Alice Springs to start a three week camping trip with Laurie.

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