10 unexpected experiences trekking the Great Wall

October 28, 2019

Charity Challenge’s Marketing Manager, Jenny, had many wonderfully unexpected experiences on the Great Wall Discovery Challenge. She’s shared her top 10, so anyone thinking of joining this challenge can have a better idea than she did about what they are going to experience.

When I decided to join the Great Wall Discovery Challenge earlier this year, I thought I had a good idea what I was in for. I expected to challenge myself physically walking on the uneven steps of the wall for five days straight. I knew I’d meet incredible people who would inspire me. The encounters with squat toilets were also (unfortunately) not a surprise.

However, there was so much more to the challenge than I ever could have expected. It turned out the unexpected was what made the Great Wall Discovery Challenge such a magical experience.

Here’s what I never expected experience trekking the Great Wall of China for five days:

1. Making great friends

I knew the people I would be trekking with would be awesome people, who would inspire and move me. But I didn’t expect to laugh so much, to get along with every single person so well and to want every single one of them to be life long friends. I can’t wait for the reunion!

2. Wall everywhere, as far as the eye can see

I knew The Great Wall of China was huge before I got there. I knew it was more than 6000km long and took hundreds of years to build. But it wasn’t until I was there, and saw it stretch to infinity and beyond, that I really understood how big it was.

Every mountain top in sight has wall perched upon it. The Great Wall really has to be seen to be believed. I found it very humbling to be in the presence of one of humanity’s greatest building accomplishments.

3. Developing a love-hate relationship with the wall

I developed complex feelings towards that wall. There were times when I’d never been so happy to see a wall before. There were times when I hated the wall for never ending or having such uneven, nonsensical steps. And there were times I could barely face the thought of taking another step on the wall.

Yet, when it was all coming to an end, I was incredibly sad I wouldn’t be seeing more of the wall. I don’t think I’ll be able to look at another wall the same.

4. Learning a new dance

I didn’t expect one of our team mates to choreograph a dance from the iconic moments of the week. My ability to move with any kind of grace is worse than a hippo, but as we built up the moves each day, I joined in and I learned it all off by heart. I’m sure I could do most of it still. When the signature move mimes cutting a watermelon in half, how could you forget?

5. Crying

There were tears, I didn’t expect that, of all the unexpected experiences on the Great Wall Discovery Challenge. Something about the magic of the moment got to me (there wasn’t a dry eye in the place).

6. Feeling empowered to take on life and do anything

If I can trek up and down those incredibly steep and uneven steps for five days, then I can do anything. We climbed over 4000m of ascent, covering a distance of 70km, powering through the sore muscles. I returned home feeling ready to take on anything. Bring it on!

7. Singing along to Chinese karaoke

Despite having the signing ability of a goat, I’m not one to shy away from a karaoke opportunity. I know China is famous for its love of karaoke, but I didn’t expect to join the Chinese karaoke and sing along (as best I could).

8. Learning how to pout

After lessons from one of the legends on the trek, I perfected my pout. I feel I’m now Instagram ready. I’m expecting the offers to become an Instagram influencer to start pouring in any day now….

9. Learning Chinese (a bit)

I’m challenged by languages; they’re just not my thing. But our guide, Jason, taught us a few characters of Chinese.  I can now recognise the numbers 1-3 and the symbol for kingdom. Thanks Jason, what an awesome teacher!

10. Discovering an ongoing interest in walking and trekking

I’d done the occasional day walk before and I enjoyed the views and being outside. But now I get the thrill of making it to the top, of pushing yourself to your limit and of achieving something you never thought could. I know this is the beginning of a new addiction. Where’s next?

To find out more about what you can expect on the Great Wall Discovery Challenge visit the Charity Challenge website. You are also likely to have your own unexpected experiences on the Great Wall.

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