Trekking the Great Wall of China
Former Australian Survivor contestant Kat Dumont recently trekked the Great Wall of China in support of Australian charity Act For Kids. After sharing her training schedule and the reason why she became involved in the first place, Kat gives us the final instalment in her epic journey.
Wow, where do I start? My China charity trek was truly magical. I’m not going to lie, I was super apprehensive about undertaking such an adventure, but I am so grateful I did. Yes, it was bloody challenging. Climbing mountains is not something a city girl does every day, but it sure was rewarding.
We started in Beijing city before driving out to our destination, Huangyaguan. The word Huangyaguan translates to Yellow Cliff Pass, and this section of the Wall built in 557 AD was named after the yellow-tinted hills and rocks nearby. It is unique due to its various different shaped watchtowers. This area is a non-tourist area and after walking the Sky Stairs, we finished our hike in a remote village. It was a great introduction to the Wall, and I was feeling pretty good about the task ahead.
Day two saw us start in Gubeikou, two hours’ drive from the previous night’s hotel. We set off through local temples for a true taste of rural China, before exploring this classic section of the wall. Here we were well off the beaten track, experiencing every day village life as we pass along the way. The views were incredible and we were reminded how the wall resembles a dragon’s back weaving its way across this beautiful golden land.
Now day three was a different story… we head off early to hike the Wohu (Crouching Tiger) Mountain and boy was it CHALLENGING. It was a rugged climb to the summit and it was two hours of hell just to get to the top to START walking the wall. But when we got to the top, our efforts were well worth it, as we were rewarded with stunning vistas and awe-inspiring views. We finished by walking through the Village of Gubeikou before crashing at 8:30pm at our guest house.
A life-changing journey in one of the most fascinating countries in the world
On day four we worked at a local farmer’s farm, helping him plant Ginkgo biloba trees. This would see him become self-sufficient in the next few years. As a reward, we dined at the farmer’s house for lunch.
Day five saw us hike at Jiankou to Mutianyu, along both original and restored sections of the Wall enjoying superb scenery, dense vegetation and many fine watchtowers. We had a picnic mid-hike and enjoyed some of the most spectacular scenery to date. Whilst it was raining this day, it made it even more of a magical site! Lights out again at 9pm, as it was a huuuge day.
The last few days of the hike are a bit of a blur. I was exhausted. My left calf was killing me and every step sent excruciating pain through my Achilles. I so wanted to give up, but I persevered. On the last day we spent the morning hiking before driving back to Beijing and enjoying a dinner of Peking Duck. It was an awesome reward and an opportunity to all say our final goodbyes.
At dinner I reflected on the fact that I HAD DONE IT. I had hiked the Great Wall of China and seen some of the most magical sights. It was tough but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. As I arrived home I can truly say that it was life-changing journey in one of the most fascinating countries in the world. Not only did I learn so much about myself, I also met seven other amazing people and together we raised more than $53,000 for Act for Kids.
If you ever get the chance to do something like this. Take it. It’s a once in a lifetime experience that will stay with you forever.