The First Trek

Early rise this morning (Monday), although I am pretty sure that no one would have slept much with John’s snoring!! Honestly I thought that we were on the flight path for Beijing International Airport.

We have a short coach journey this morning to start our walk on the Juyong Guan Pass. The coach trip takes us past the Birds Nest Stadium and Olympic Village. The Chinese built 34 stadia for the games and most of these are now available for use by the Chinese People. The area surrounding the Birds Nest, where all the competitors were housed, is massive. One of main hotels is built in the shape of the Olympic Torch.

We also pass the Velodrome where Chris Hoy and the rest of the cycling team were so successful.

This section of the wall was constructed in the Ming Dynasty in the 5th Century and is one of the main tourist areas consequently it was like Sauchiehall Street on a Saturday afternoon.

We are starting in a gully at the bottom of the pass and our local guides take us through a series of warm up exercises before we head off. The site of 64 people in white hospice T-shirts, all doing their own version of Tai-Chi is a site to behold and attracted many onlookers. Stretching complete we strap on the day packs loaded with fun-sized Mars bars, 2 litres of water filled platypus and the occasional hip-flask. Liz and Graham have an interesting conversation about Graham platypus’s, Liz was suitably impressed with the quality although she thought it was a bit smaller than what she is used to!

Today’s climb although not that long is very steep, stone steps of varying sizes leading up to the top of the pass, around 2060ft and a good test for the cardiovascular system.

There are a large number of Chinese tourists from other regions, they have a strange custom whereby they like having photographs taken with other people. At the end of today we start to understand how Posh and Becks feel. No more photographs please!

I think everyone agreed that descent down the pass was very hard going, the stone steps were very steep and daunting up to 18 inches deep at some points. Everyone had shaky legs from stretching muscles that haven’t been used for a long time. Justine reckoned that was the best her knees had trembled for a while.

So sore legs all round and most people glad they had walking poles although Graeme Reid had problems with his pole extension fortunately Janie managed to help him out, in fact she has offered to assist anyone who has trouble with their pole during the trek.

The weather today has again been mixed, very warm while walking although we had snow flurries nearer the top. The views have been absolutely stunning particularly at the Summit. Back down in the gully there were a series of mock terracotta warriors, another good photo opportunity and as you can tell from the pictures Christine has a thing for a man in uniform!

Lunch at a local restaurant was preceded by an impromptu Chinese Dragon Dance complete with drums and a glass of 56% proof firewater.

Went for a walk before dinner down the ‘Fukang’ Road and considering that there are allegedly “9 Million bicycles in Beijing” the streets are very very quiet.

Generally it was a quite dinner, a lot of tired legs. Early night all round.