Tough Mudder and Scoliosis

Running Tough Mudder with scoliosis

I’m always looking for ways to challenge myself following my scoliosis surgery, and this weekend was no exception.

Yesterday, I completed my first Tough Mudder – a 10 mile mud run with 20 obstacles that you have to see to believe! The obstacles are extreme and include electrocution, being plunged into ice-cold water, swimming/wading through freezing cold lakes, crawling through the mud under barbed wire, climbing (or being pulled!) over huge 12 foot walls – the list goes on!

With having scoliosis and a fused spine, this event was a huge challenge for me – but I don’t do things by halves.

In the lead up to the event, I felt really nervous. I wasn’t too concerned about the running side of it, as I knew that it would be very stop start with the amount of obstacles and also quite difficult to run some parts due to all the mud!

I was more concerned about the obstacles themselves and whether I could do them, as I have a distinct lack of upper body strength.  I have done Pretty Muddy before but that is much tamer in comparison and doesn’t really require any upper body strength. I was also worried about how my back would cope with all the bending, twisting, crawling and clambering! Also, I was worried about getting badly injured – falling off something and breaking my leg for example…

I do quite a lot of running anyway, I usually do Park Run on a Saturday and I run with my run club every week but I didn’t really do any specific training for this event. I was a bit concerned about this, as I had planned to follow a training plan and work on my upper body strength leading up to the event, but this fell by the wayside after I was in quite a bad (non-running related) accident a few months ago, which put my training on hold. I decided to go ahead and attempt the event despite this and I’m so glad I did.

It was tough, and very challenging. Some of the obstacles were fun, some were terrifying and some were definitely outside of my comfort zone. But sometimes you have to push yourself to grow and I’d rather look back and say – I can’t believe I did that, than I wish I did that.

Tough Mudder Obstacle
Tough Mudder Obstacle

With having had scoliosis surgery, there were a few obstacles that I couldn’t do. For example, there were a couple of electrocution ones that said not to attempt if you have excess metal in your body – so unfortunately they were a no, no for me! To be honest, I was a bit gutted as I wanted to attempt all of the obstacles – I don’t like being told I can’t do things…

There was also one bit where you had to give people piggy backs, and I just do not have the strength in my back at the moment, so I received a piggy back rather than giving one!

All of the obstacles requiring upper body strength, to be honest I struggled with and had to be pulled up by others. But after completing the event, that’s what I’ve realised. Tough Mudder is about teamwork more than anything and most of the obstacles you cannot complete without the help of others – either your own teammates or complete strangers. This is the case whether you have scoliosis (or any condition) or not. The atmosphere is fantastic – everyone works together to get your across/over the obstacles, which is amazing.

Tough Mudder Pyramid Scheme Obstacle
Tough Mudder Pyramid Scheme Obstacle

I’m glad I gave Tough Mudder a go and it is definitely one of my highlights of this year so far. It has made me more determined to work on my upper body strength at the gym and try again next year. What’s amazing is that my back coped fine and did not hurt at all, all the way through. My legs felt heavy and tired after about 8/9 miles but my back was completely fine.

Even today (the day after the event), yes I’m sore, in pain and I’m covered in cuts and bruises, but the pain is muscle pain and no different to what anyone else who completed Tough Mudder will be feeling today.

There’s no reason why having scoliosis should stop me from doing ANY of the obstacles (apart from the electro ones). A lot of it is mind over matter and yes, upper body strength definitely helps!

Next year I want to get stronger, go back fighting, try the ones I struggled with again and smash them! 😀

Tough Mudder Selfie
Tough Mudder Selfie

A bit of advice if you are doing a Tough Mudder (or similar event) for the first time…

  • Do it as a team! It is best to do an event like this as part of a team, and it helps it someone in your team is strong and can help lift you up/over things! This was a LIFESAVER in my case!!
  • Don’t panic like I did! It is supposed to be fun. Everyone is really friendly, there is a team spirit atmosphere, and everyone looks out for each other. Plus if there are obstacles you cannot do you can skip them.
  • Wear leggings that cover your knees
  • Take a change of clothes and a towel as they have showers and changing areas on site
  • Wear trail running trainers – if you wear normal gym trainers they will be ruined. Plus, you will be slipping and sliding everywhere.
  • Give things a go – put yourself outside of your comfort zone and try things that make you scared/nervous. You will feel amazing after you’ve done it trust me.

 


Have you ever taken part in an event like this? Would you ever? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂

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Running Tough Mudder with Scoliosis

6 month goal review

6 month goal review

So it’s July already, which means that half the year has gone… nooooo!

It always makes me panic how fast time goes, and the fact that it is now July has got me thinking about my goals I set back in January and where I’m up to with them.

I thought I’d write a quick post to sum up what I’ve achieved in the last 6 months, and what I’d like to achieve in the next 6 months. (It’s more to cheer myself up about what I have achieved and give myself some direction for the next 6 months, rather than to brag about everything I’ve done!) I generally like to have some goals to work towards, I find I work better that way and feel more motivated.


My goals for 2018 were as follows…

RUNNING

Complete a half marathon  – DONE woohooo! I completed the Great Manchester Run Half Marathon in May, in 2hr 8mins and it was one of the proudest moments of my life. I have also booked another Half Marathon for October… whoops!

Do at least 10 10K races / running events  – So far this year I have completed…

So I’m over half way with this one, on target! Unfortunately, I have had to pull out of a couple of other 10k races I had planned for June (Colshaw Hall 10K) and July (Tatton Park 10K again) because of a leg injury. This injury is completely unrelated to running but was caused by a freak accident I was in a few weeks ago. It’s annoying because it has set me back but I will not let this stop me believe you me!

Improve my running speed – target 25 mins 5K by end of the year (currently around 28mins)

Hmmm, this one is ongoing! The leg injury mentioned above has set me back which I’m annoyed at, but I plan on following a training plan for my next half marathon and trying to get quicker by mixing in intervals and hill repeats etc.

Join a running club – DONE! I’m so proud of myself for this. I joined a running club in January and it’s one of the best things I’ve done this year. Check out my blog post on Running and Mental Health to find out how much this has really helped me.

Complete  a Tough Mudder – This is booked for September… ha. We will see how I get on with this, but the next few months will see my training switching over to strength so that I have half a chance of completing this!!

Go to as many park runs as I can, including trying some different ones, with the aim of reaching 50 park runs – Well, I started the year of well but recently have been slacking on the Park Run front due to my injury. So far I have been to three different Park Runs (poor show) but I have completed 24 so almost half way to my target..!

Run 1000km in 2018 – Currently on 460km so almost half way, need to step it up in July!


FITNESS / other challenges

Focus on increasing my strength – more body pump / strength work at the gym – In progress, this will become more of a focus now my half marathon has been completed. As I now need to focus on training for Tough Mudder.

Start core classes at the gym – DONE

Start Pilates classes – finally – I have been to a few Pilates and Yoga classes this year so far but haven’t been going as regularly as I’d like.

3 peaks challenge – at least climb a few more mountains as I love Snowdon – 3 peaks challenge is booked for July… eeeek!

I have also climbed several mountains this year so far, including Hellvelyn in the Lake District and Glyder Fach and Tryfan in Wales.

I would love to do another massive personal challenge like Machu Picchu – watch this space!! Still planning something like this, although may be next year due to £££.


TRAVEL

Take at least a month off for travelling – yeah, not quite sure if this will happen yet but if it does it’s likely to be towards the end of the year / early next year.

I have been to Paris and Holland twice so far this year and I am planning a trip to Barcelona later in July.


PERSONAL

Get a tattoo – something related to scoliosis and my China Challenge would be good as a reminder of what I achieved.  Still needs to be done 🙂 But I have not forgotten…

I’d like to add another personal goal relating to growing and developing this blog further. I have lots of plans and ideas but it’s time to put these into action.

I’d like to add here that I feel like I personally have grown and changed a lot over the last 6 months. I had a tough time at the end of last year, as my long term relationship of 13 years ended.

In the past 6 months, I have moved forward physically and emotionally. I have now got my own place and am doing more fun things with my friends than I used to. I’m also now more comfortable doing things on my own, for example cooking a meal for myself, shopping for food, sorting out my car MOT or just being on my own in my flat. These things may not sound like much but for me, they are huge steps forward and I feel like I am now more comfortable with myself and more confident than I have ever been before.


So there we have it, half way through 2018. I am proud of what I have achieved so far this year and I’m excited for what’s to come in the next 6 months.

BRING IT ON! 😀

China Trek Day 2 - Gubeikou

Trekking the Great Wall of China: What to wear

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If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may know that last year I took part in a trek across the Great Wall of China to raise some much needed money for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund. Since then, I have been asked on several occasions about what to take and wear whilst trekking the Great Wall, so I thought I’d put a bit of a post together based on my own experiences.


Trekking the Great Wall of China: What to wear

What to wear when trekking the Great Wall of China will depend on what time of year you go, I did my trek in October, and the weather was pretty good. However, the weather can be changeable and so layers are a must. The following advice is based on my own experiences trekking the Great Wall in Autumn, for other times of year you would need to adjust accordingly (i.e. shorts for summer, thermals for winter). For my trek in October, I took the following items:


Trekking trousers

You will need a couple of decent pairs of trekking / hiking trousers ideally with pockets. I found pockets important for easy access to my phone (for taking pics!)  I bought some where the legs zipped off, so that if I got too warm they doubled as three quarter length trousers. The main thing is that after hours of walking, you need to be comfortable. So either trekking trousers or sports leggings that you’d wear for running or going to the gym are ideal. You should also take some waterproof trousers just in case. Luckily, I didn’t need mine but they are useful to carry in your day pack in case of heavy rain, which can and does happen in October.


Thermal base layers

I took a few thermal base layers to wear under my T-shirts. I usually wore a thermal base layer, a t-shirt and a light fleece to start with and then de-layered pretty quickly as we started walking up hill. Most days I just wore a t-shirt and then put a fleece on when we stopped for lunch and it got a bit chilly. Layers are a must because you really don’t know what the weather will be doing. When we were there it was in the high teens and sunny most of the time but we were really lucky as the week before they had torrential rain. I bought my thermal base layers from the Mountain Warehouse off Amazon but you can get them in lots of sports shops. They come in handy for running too and I still use mine when running or hiking in the winter.

 


Wicking T-shirts

As above, you’ll need several wicking t-shirts to wear over your base layer. I had some running t-shirts which I took but make sure they are the wicking material which helps you stay dry when you start sweating.

 


Day sack (30L)

You need a decent ruck sack for carrying your layers,  lunch/snacks any first aid equipment and your water. You’ll probably need around 1-2 litres of water but more if you’re trekking in the summer. I bought a Karrimor back pack from Sports Direct which had a section for a  water bladder.

I would recommend taking a water bladder as it’s so much easier but you don’t need more than 2 litres if you are going in October. Although mine leaked a few times so I’d recommend putting it in a plastic bag just in case. I would also recommend a back pack that has loops for tying your walking poles and also straps for fastening around your waist and chest for support.

If possible, try to get some advice about your backpack and how to wear/pack it to avoid injuries and strains, I didn’t do this and ended up straining my shoulder muscles, so it’s important trust me! It’s also worth taking a waterproof cover for your ruck sack just in case.


Walking Boots

Walking boots with ankle support and a decent grip are ESSENTIAL. Some parts of the Great Wall are very uneven and the steep parts can be very slippy, especially if it’s wet. I’d recommend going to an outdoors shop such as Mountain Warehouse, Go Outdoors, or Sports Direct and trying them on before purchasing. You should also wear them in before your trek to avoid blisters.

 


Walking Socks

As above, you’ll need at least 4/5 pairs of decent walking socks. You can’t wear normal socks as they will rub and give you blisters. I bought my walking socks from Sports Direct and they were fab. I was surprised actually as I had no blisters at all the whole time!


Walking Poles

Walking poles are essential if you are trekking the Great Wall of China, they really help to take the strain off your knees and I really think they saved my life on some of the really steep bits!! I would recommend lightweight foldable ones that you can attach to your back pack when you are not using them. Again, I bought mine from Sports Direct (Karrimor ones) and they were a good price but you can get them from Amazon or most outdoor shops if you don’t have any already.


Fleeces

I took a few lightweight fleeces as well as one really thick one that I travelled in/wore in the evenings. When trekking, thinner layers are better so lightweight fleeces are preferable – they are easier to whip off and carry in your back pack too. I didn’t wear my fleeces much when trekking, it was mostly when we stopped for lunch as it usually felt cooler when we stopped. Also, some parts of the wall are high up in the mountains and so it naturally gets cooler the higher you go.


Waterproof

I took a lightweight waterproof jacket – you don’t need anything too big / heavy. just something which will keep you dry and that you can easily roll up and stuff in your back pack. Mine is a Karrimor one from Sports Direct and is quite thin but you can layer up with fleeces underneath. If you were going in the winter you may need something warmer but for spring/Autumn a thin waterproof with layers should suffice.


Running/walking belt

I didn’t actually take one of these but it’s something I wish I had taken and I’ve since bought one for my running / walking. Other members of the group had them and they are just useful for putting your phone/camera etc in so you don’t have to keep stopping to get them out of your bag. If you have trousers with pockets it’s less of an issue but having things in your pockets when you’re walking for miles can be uncomfortable. I’ve found some examples of what I mean on Amazon here – running / walking belts but I recently bought one from Sports Direct similar to the one below and I think it is brilliant.

 

 


Hat/Scarf or neckwarmer/Gloves

It can get cold higher up on the wall so it’s worth taking some warm gloves, a warm hat/bandana to cover your ears and a neckwarmer or scarf. To be honest, in October I didn’t need these items much but they are worth taking in your back pack as the weather can change quickly and it can get cold if the fog rolls in. Depending on the time of year, you may also want to take a sunhat and sunglasses as the sun can be quite strong. It was sunny/bright most of the time we were there and so I wore my sunglasses most days.


Other useful items

So I think the above are the main things, some other things you may need are as follows:

  • First aid kit including plasters and blister pads, just in case
  • Your usual toiletries/medications
  • Suncream
  • Insect Repellent with DEET
  • Deepheat – I used this ALOT it was a lifesaver
  • Antiseptic hand gel
  • Water bottles if you are not using a water bladder
  • Camera, or you can just use your phone
  • If you are using your phone a lot, consider taking a powerbank to keep your phone nicely charged so you don’t miss out on any photos!

Well that’s the majority of it and you obviously need all your travel documents and a Chinese Visa. If you have any questions about my trip drop me an email or put a comment below and I’ll get back to you 🙂

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Trekking the Great Wall of China - What to Wear

2018 goals

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Firstly, I would like to wish all my readers a Happy New Year 🙂

I cannot believe that it is 2018, seriously where is the time going? I always use this time of year to set myself some goals for the year ahead as I find it really helps to motivate me.

I also look back at the previous year and reflect on what I’ve achieved. If you have been following my blog, you’ll know that 2017 was a huge year for me. In terms of my back, it’s the year I pushed myself the most by setting myself a massive personal challenge – to raise money and awareness of scoliosis by trekking the Great Wall of China. This was without a doubt the highlight of 2017 for me and it’s made me want to keep pushing. If I can do that, what else can I achieve? I believe I (and you!) can achieve anything I set my mind to.


So what else did I achieve in 2017?

I had a quick look at the goals I set myself in 2017 to see if I achieved them, they were as follows..

    • Focus on getting STRONG – I will be doing the 30 day plank challenge throughout January. I will also continue to go to Body Pump twice a week and gradually increase the amount of weights I can lift. I am determined to be strong enough to do a push up!! (Still can’t do those!)
    • Related to the above, I’m determined to get into Pilates too.
    • I really want to do a massive personal challenge of some kind and raise some money for Scoliosis Association while I’m at it (any ideas people? Let me know in the comments!)
    • I’m thinking of signing up to a 10K race or half marathon. A half marathon might be a bit much but I like to push myself 😉

So how did I do? Well, I completed the 30 day plank challenge. I continue to go to Body Pump classes and have noticed a dramatic increase in my strength. I still haven’t taken up Pilates though, this is something I intend to do this year for sure. I completed a massive personal challenge by trekking the Great Wall of China, and I managed to raise over £1,400. I completed not one 10K race, but I managed to do 4 10k races, a 5k mud run and a 5k colour run. I also completed 17 park runs.

My other goal was to focus on and grow this blog, and I’ve managed to increase my blog visits to over 5,000 a month (from pretty much zero!) in the space of a year by writing and following my blog strategy.


My goals for 2018

RUNNING

Complete a half marathon (huge challenge for me!)

Do at least 10 10K races / running events

Improve my running speed – target 25 mins 5K by end of the year (currently around 28mins)

Join a running club

Complete  a Tough Mudder

Go to as many park runs as I can, including trying some different ones, with the aim of reaching 50 park runs

Run 1000km in 2018


FITNESS / other challenges

Focus on increasing my strength – more body pump / strength work at the gym

Start core classes at the gym

Start Pilates classes – finally

3 peaks challenge – at least climb a few more mountains as I love Snowdon

I would love to do another massive personal challenge like Machu Picchu – watch this space!!


TRAVEL

Take at least a month off for travelling – I love travelling. This is something I’ve wanted to do for years and I feel like I’m finally at a place in my life now where I can do it and achieve my dream.


PERSONAL

Get a tattoo – something related to scoliosis and my China Challenge would be good as a reminder of what I achieved.

I’m really proud of what I have achieved with my blog in 2017 and I intend on continuing to grow it further in 2018.  I have lots of ideas and will be working on a 2018 strategy over the coming weeks but if there is any content you’d like me to include, please let me know!

Just comment below or send me a quick email. I love to hear from my readers as it really does mean a lot that people actually read it! You can also complete my quick blog survey.

Also, if you or someone you know has scoliosis and you would like to share your story or write a guest post I would love to feature it on my blog, so please get in touch 🙂 I would also love to collaborate with other bloggers in 2018 too and attend some blogger networking events.

helpformyscoliosis@hotmail.co.uk

That’s all for now,

Happy New Year!

Louise X

 

Great Wall of China

Wow… I’ve raised £1,420 for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund!

Hi everyone,

Just a quick post to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who sponsored me for my Great Wall of China Trek. I managed to raise an amazing £1,420 (including gift aid) for the Scoliosis campaign fund!!!

My fundraising page is closing tomorrow so if anyone would like to make a last minute donation there’s still time 😊… it means so much to me that I managed to complete the trek and raise so much money for a charity close to my heart. It was one of my goals at the start of this year to complete a fundraising challenge for scoliosis but I never dreamed I would raise so much!

If you’d like to read more on my charity Great Wall of China trek, check out my posts on each day of the trek below…

Great Wall of China Trek: Day 1 – Jinshanling Loop

Great Wall of China Trek: Day 2 Gubeikou Section

Great Wall of China Trek: Day 3 – Mutianyu Section

Great Wall of China Trek: Day 4 – Huanghuacheng

Great Wall of China Trek: Day 5 – Badaling Section

I’d love to do another big challenge and I need to think about what to do next 🙂 any ideas? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time!

Louise X

China Trek Day 5 - Badaling Great Wall view

Great Wall of China Trek: Day 5 – Badaling section

So we’re now onto day 5, the final day of the trek and my final post about my Great Wall of China trek for scoliosis.

In case you are new to my blog or have missed any posts, I’m blogging about my Great Wall of China trek that I did to raise money for the Scoliosis Campaign fund a few weeks ago.

If you want to catch up, you can check out my other posts below…

Great Wall of China Trek: Day 1 – Jinshanling Loop

Great Wall of China Trek: Day 2 – Gubeikou Section

Great Wall of China Trek: Day 3 – Mutianyu section

Great Wall of China Trek Day 4 – Huanghuacheng

By doing this trek, I have managed to raise over £1000 for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund which I am incredibly proud of. If you’d like to support me and everyone who suffers from scoliosis, you can still donate to my page by clicking here.


Great Wall of China Trek: Day 5 – Badaling section

So after a random breakfast of cabbage, spring rolls and potato type things we left the hotel where we had spent the past two nights and headed to the Badaling section of the wall. As it was the last day of the trek today, it was a shorter day of trekking (still about 4-5 hours though). This was because we had to head into central Beijing later that afternoon for an acrobat show and a massage (an interesting experience, more on that later).

We travelled by coach to the Badaling section of the wall. Apparently this is the most popular section of the wall that tourists visit when they come to Beijing and as soon as we arrived, we could tell. In sharp contrast to the previous days of isolated trekking, there were coach loads of tourists here.

We were also very high up in the mountains today, which meant it felt much colder than the previous days of trekking. And typically today was the day where we had all taken our hats, gloves and scarves etc out of our backpacks as we hadn’t needed them on the previous days! Ah well, as soon as we started walking up the steep steps we warmed up!

China Trek Day 5 - Badaling Great Wall

It was very misty when we arrived due to how high we were and also how cold it was. The first part of the walk today started with a steep climb up a combination of steps and paved walkways until we reached the top. To be honest, today was much easier than some of the previous days because this section of the wall has been recently renovated.

China Trek Day 5 - Badaling Great Wall

There were also hand rails to actually hold onto (which felt a bit like cheating, but was very welcome after 4 days of trekking!) A few people in the group were feeling tired and a bit fed up today and to get through this last day was a real challenge.

China Trek Day 5 - Badaling Great Wall

As we got higher and higher, the mist cleared and the views were simply stunning, which helped to boost morale. I think they were some of my favourite views of the week as we were literally above the clouds. There were also less people the higher we went, as most tourists will just stay near the bottom of this part of the wall (I don’t blame them either!!).

China Trek Day 5 - Badaling Great Wall view from the top
Badaling Great Wall view from the top
China Trek Day 5 - Badaling Great Wall
Steep!

As with every day of the challenge, this part of the wall had some VERY steep parts which I found much worse coming down. There was definitely no relief on the last day.

China Trek Day 5 - Badaling Great Wall
We did it!!

Once we got to the bottom we had a celebratory beer as a group. I couldn’t quite believe that it was all over and that we’d managed to complete the challenge! I felt quite sad that it was all over but also proud of what I had achieved. It truly was an amazing experience and what I loved was that every day was different. Badaling was how I imagined the wall to be after seeing it online or on TV. However, some parts of the wall such as Huanghuacheng and Gubeikou were not like anything I could have imagined. As they were so old and un-renovated, they offered a completely different perspective and experience altogether.

China Trek Day 5 - Badaling Great Wall
Celebratory Beers

We had our lunch on the coach and then headed into Beijing that afternoon where we had a few treats to celebrate our achievements. We went to watch a Chinese acrobat show, which was an experience and then headed to have a massage. This wasn’t exactly the most relaxing of experiences to be honest!! I ended up with bruises all over my legs put it that way..

After the massage we had our evening meal and a few drinks before heading back to our hotel, ready for a day of sightseeing in Beijing on our last day before heading home.

 

 

China Trek Day 4 - Huanghuacheng - views

Great Wall of China Trek Day 4: Huanghuacheng

Hi everyone,

I’m slowly making my way through blogging about my Great Wall of China trek that I did to raise money for the Scoliosis Campaign fund a few weeks ago.

If you want to catch up, check out the posts below…

Great Wall of China Trek: Day 1 – Jinshanling Loop

Great Wall of China Trek: Day 2 – Gubeikou Section

Great Wall of China Trek: Day 3 – Mutianyu section

By doing this trek, I have managed to raise over £1000 for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund which I am incredibly proud of. If you’d like to support me and everyone who suffers from scoliosis, you can still donate to my page by clicking here.


Great Wall of China Trek Day 4: Huanghuacheng

So, onto day 4 and for me, the toughest day of the week. This section was called Huanghuacheng, also known as the “Yellow Flower” section due to the beautiful yellow flowers/trees that surround this section of the wall.

China Trek Day 4 - Huanghuacheng
Yellow flowers at Huanghuacheng

We drove to a small village called Xishuiyu, where the trek started with a very challenging uphill climb through a thick forest to get up onto the wall. This part was rocky and slippy underfoot, especially because we had the first bit of rain of the week.

 

China Trek Day 4 - Huanghuacheng
China Trek Day 4 – rain will not stop us!

We kept going for around an hour or two until we reached the wall, which was very old and one of the most challenging parts to walk on.

As a result, it was very quiet, which I liked. Although we were told that this section is popular with backpackers, it’s not really a touristy part of the wall. Mainly because it is very challenging to walk on and it’s also quite far out of Beijing. That’s one of the main things I loved about this trek though, I felt like we got to see parts of the wall that tourists don’t usually see, which felt quite special. 🙂

China Trek Day 4 - Huanghuacheng 8
China Trek Day 4 – Made it onto the wall! Very overgrown…

The next part was VERY challenging. The terrain was very rocky, steep and slippy and there were trees and plants growing all over the wall.

China Trek Day 4 - Huanghuacheng steep
China Trek Day 4 – steep!

My biggest fear was slipping as it was pretty treacherous in parts and there were bits where we actually had to scramble up and down the slippy rocks. My Mount Snowdon training definitely came in useful here I can tell you!

China Trek Day 4 - Huanghuacheng 4

China Trek Day 4 - Huanghuacheng

We kept going until we reached some verrry steep steps (there is definitely a theme here…) and then we had a break for lunch.

China Trek Day 4 - Huanghuacheng steep steps
China Trek Day 4 – steep steps!

Lunch today was rice for me (as a vegetarian) and “Hot Boxes” for everyone else, which were basically curry and rice which heated themselves – pretty cool.

After lunch it was decision time. Some of the group would now head back to the coach, whereas the rest of us were given the option to trek up THE STEEPEST thing I have ever walked up. No word of a lie. Now I like a challenge, so obviously I gave it a go. But it was pretty scary as it was so high up and the ascent was ridiculously steep. There is a picture below of what we waked up…

China Trek Day 4 - Huanghuacheng - scary
Yeah, we walked up that…

I took a few pictures while I was up there but in all honestly I was too scared to stop and turn round to take more. I don’t suffer with a fear of heights usually but I got a bit of vertigo up there I must admit.. if you don’t like heights then you would not like this!

China Trek Day 4 - Huanghuacheng - scary
Steep trek up!

When we reached the top though the views of the Xishuiyu Reservoir and the surrounding mountains and wall were just stunning, so it was worth it.

China Trek Day 4 - Huanghuacheng - view from the top
Huanghuacheng – view from the top

However, we had to get down and for me this was the most terrifying bit of the whole trip! The descent down was a series of almost vertical steep slopes. There was nothing to hold onto and it was quite slippy, as it had rained earlier. To get down we were told to walk leaning backwards to try and keep our balance. I nearly slipped a few times! My walking poles saved my life here, literally. I didn’t take many pictures here as I couldn’t really safely stop but the below may give you an idea, although they don’t really do the steepness justice. It honestly looked worse when you were there believe it or not!

China Trek Day 4 - Huanghuacheng - scary walk down
Huanghuacheng – scary walk down
China Trek Day 4 - Huanghuacheng - scary walk down
Huanghuacheng – scary walk down

It was utter relief to make it down in one piece to the waiting bus and a beer at the bottom I can tell you!

So it was the end of day 4 and back onto the bus for the journey back to the hotel. Tonight we visited a Jade factory and had our dinner there which was interesting. A few people bought some Jade jewellery, which was beautiful, but I’m just tight and didn’t want to pay for anything haha.

China Trek Day 4 - Huanghuacheng - food
Foooood!

We then headed back to the hotel for a few drinks before heading to bed for the last day of trekking – day 5 Badaling.

Great Wall of China Trek Day 3 Mutianyu section 12

Great Wall of China Trek: Day 3 – Mutianyu section

Hi everyone,

After posting about day 1 and day 2 of my Great Wall of China trek last week, I’ve finally had chance to sit down and write day 3. It still doesn’t feel real like I actually did it!

I’m so pleased that by doing this trek I have managed to raise OVER £1,000 for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund!

I’m going to leave my sponsor page open for donations until the end of November, so if you’d like to donate and support me and others with scoliosis, you can so so via this link.  🙂

So I think day 3 was my favourite day out of the whole trek mainly because of the variety. On day 3, we tackled Mutianyu section of the Wall, and then a challenging trek down the appropriately named “Heavenly Staircase” followed by a toboggan ride back down again (had to be done!)


Great Wall of China Trek: Day 3 – Mutianyu section

After breakfast, we drove out to the village of Xihazi, and the day began with a stiff climb up towards the tower of Zhenbeilou. This was very tough as the terrain was very steep, rocky and slippy as we were climbing through a forest. It took about 2 hours of climbing uphill before we even reached the wall.

 Great Wall of China Trek Day 3 Mutianyu section

Once we reached the wall itself, it was rocky, un-renovated and overgrown with plants and trees. It was also very steep again, making it a real challenge.

Great Wall of China Trek Day 3 Mutianyu section 1

Great Wall of China Trek Day 3 Mutianyu section 4
Difficult terrain

We kept going on terrain like this until we reached the peak, where we stopped for lunch.

Great Wall of China Trek Day 3 Mutianyu section 17

Today, we had a special treat for lunch and a break from the strange yellow bread of day 1 and 2. We had a Subway! Yes, a Subway on the Great Wall of China.. very random, but very tasty, especially after all that walking!

Great Wall of China Trek Day 3 Mutianyu section 5

At this point, there was also the opportunity to buy a ribbon, on which people wrote messages to loved ones and tied them to the trees on the wall. I thought the red ribbons looked really pretty and I know some members of the group found this part quite emotional.

Great Wall of China Trek Day 3 Mutianyu section 6

After lunch, we headed to the more touristy and renovated part of the Mutianyu section. This part was slightly easier in terms of the terrain but still very steep and tough on the knees! The views were amazing, and as today was quite misty, it made it feel quite magical, like something out of Game of Thrones (even though I don’t watch it!)

Great Wall of China Trek Day 3 Mutianyu section 8

After walking for a while, we approached the extremely steep “Heavenly Staircase.” This was definitely a challenge and quite scary in parts as it was so steep but the views were breathtaking.

Great Wall of China Trek Day 3 Mutianyu section 10

Great Wall of China Trek Day 3 Mutianyu section 16
Heavenly Staircase

After tackling the endless steps and walking a bit further, it was decision time! Some of the group would head back down to the coach on the cable cars while myself and a few others decided to go for the infamous toboggan (why not?)

Great Wall of China Trek Day 3 Mutianyu section 18

After another hour or so of walking we finally made it to the toboggan which was an experience! I have to say at this point, I was dubious and slightly worried about hurting my back (in case someone rammed into the back of me). But it was so fun! I’m really glad I did it and I kind of wish I’d filmed it like some of the others in our group did, but I was too busy holding on!! I went quite slowly so it was all good..

Great Wall of China Trek Day 3 Mutianyu section 13
Great Wall of China Toboggan

After the toboggan, we headed to Subway (yes, Subway) at the bottom of the wall for a well earned drink. Yes the Subway in China served alcohol. Winner!

 

We then piled onto the coach after another amazing day and headed back to the hotel for a shower, change and dinner.

China Trek Day 2 - Gubeikou

Great Wall of China Trek: Day 2 – Gubeikou Section

After a good nights sleep we all awoke – stiff and in pain from all the steep steps of day 1 – and hobbled down to breakfast.

Today we were walking to the start point on the Gubeikou wall and so no need to get the coach, although the coach would be waiting at the end of the walk, so after breakfast we had to pack all our stuff and put it on the coach ready.

We also made our packed lunch again (same yellow bread as day 1) and filled up our water bottles ready for the trek ahead.


Great Wall of China Trek: Day 2 – Gubeikou Section

When we were all ready, at around 8.30 am we started walking through the pretty little village of Gubeikou to the start point of the trek.

China Trek Day 2 - Gubeikou village
China Trek Day 2 – Gubeikou village

It was a steep and challenging ascent up to the top of the wall(especially with sore calves from day 1) but the views were amazing on the way up.

China Trek Day 2 - Hike up to Gubeikou
Views on the hike up to Gubeikou – you can see the wall on the top of the mountain ahead

The Gubeikou section of the wall was completely different from the Jinshanling section on day 1. It was not restored/well preserved. It was rugged and crumbly with uneven terrain which was difficult to walk on in parts, there were also some really narrow sections with huge drops either side, which was quite scary for some people in our group.

China Trek Day 2 - narrow section of the wall at Gubeikou
Narrow section of the wall at Gubeikou

Despite this, I quite enjoyed this part of the wall. It’s more how I imagined the walking to be on this challenge and it was far less touristy – in fact we didn’t see another soul on this part of the wall, except for another charity walking group like us.

China Trek Day 2 - Gubeikou

After walking for a while we had a break which was a chance for a quick rest and to take in those amazing views. We were lucky again with the weather today, around 16 degrees and pure blue skies which meant the views were stunning.

China Trek Day 2 - rest stop at Gubeikou
China Trek Day 2 – rest stop at Gubeikou

China Trek Day 2 - Gubeikou

After the break and a quick snack, there was a very steep climb up to one of the towers in the distance. This bit was very challenging as the terrain was uneven and there were some bits where we had to scramble up and over rocks.

China Trek Day 2 - Gubeikou steep climb up
China Trek Day 2 – Gubeikou steep climb up
China Trek Day 2 - Gubeikou steep climb up
China Trek Day 2 – Gubeikou steep climb up

After the steep climb we stopped for lunch and the views again were breathtaking.

China Trek Day 2 - Views from the top at Gubeikou
China Trek Day 2 – Views from the top at Gubeikou

Then came the descent back down, which I actually found harder than going up as it was a challenge not to slip as the path was steep and quite sandy and slippy in places. In fact, I had my first slip on the way down the Gubeikou section. Luckily I was ok but I bruised my leg and knee quite a bit.

After a long and challenging day, we headed back to the coach and the drive to the next place we were staying. It was actually a hotel tonight (Shuangyang Hotel) rather than a lodge and we were in more of a built up area rather than the middle of nowhere like the last two nights.

On first glance the hotel looked nice and quite fancy compared to where we had been staying the previous two nights. However the downside was that there was no heating because the certain parts of the city of Beijing are not allowed to switch heating on until the 11th November! So it was verrry cold.

Tonight, we had a few hours to spare before the evening meal so we showered and changed and decided to head out into the area we were staying and explore.

We had time to visit a couple of supermarkets and that was an experience as everyone was staring at us!

I fancied some crisps but it appears they only have strange flavoured crisps in China..I settled for some cucumber crisps as I was intrigued, but they weren’t great in all honesty..

 

China Trek Day 2 - Cucumber Crisps
China Trek Day 2 – Cucumber Crisps

We then headed back to the hotel for food and it was another nice Chinese meal.

China Trek Day 2 - Chinese Meal

There was no bar (Chinese hotels don’t tend to have bars which I found very odd) so we sat in the lobby and chatted for a bit before heading to bed, it was very cold though so we didn’t stay up too late tonight.

We then headed back to our rooms and packed our bags ready for day 3 and the move to the next hotel.

 

China Trek Day 1 - Jinshanling Loop

Great Wall of China Trek: Day 1 – Jinshanling Loop

Hi guys!

Well I’m back from China and what a fabulous experience it was. I wanted to write a blog post each day I was there but I didn’t have my laptop in China and so I thought I’d write a day by day update now I’m back.

Overall, I had an amazing time and met some truly inspirational people, who all had personal challenges to overcome.

Fitness wise, it was challenging but surprisingly I didn’t find it too bad. The bigger challenge for me was the rough terrain and the steepness, as slipping was a real concern.

I think all the running I did beforehand really helped with the fitness side though. Before I went, I was worried about how my back would cope and I was right to worry. On day 3 I managed to injure my shoulder, which was very painful for the remainder of the trip.

I think this was a result of carrying a heavy back pack while trekking. My shoulder is still very sore and it feels like I have torn the muscles there. Due to my scoliosis, I already had weakness there, as the muscles are weaker on one side. This is where I have also strained my muscles previously by running. So I think the combination of the heavy back pack and swinging of the walking poles must have been pulling on this and it kind of re-ignited the previous injury.

In all honestly, I was a bit upset by this, as I wasn’t able to carry a backpack for days 4 and 5. This made me feel like a bit of a failure, like my back let me down and it also made me feel like I’m not invincible!

Luckily, everyone was so kind and carried my kit and water for me so I could continue on with the challenge (even though it was very painful).

The best part was that I managed to raise OVER £1,000 for the Scoliosis Campaign Fund! I really can’t believe it and I’m so grateful to everyone who donated and made this possible.

I’m going to leave my page open for donations until the end of November, so if you’d like to donate and support me and others with scoliosis, you can so so via this link.  🙂


Day 1: Jinshanling Loop

We had arrived in Beijing the previous afternoon, very tired and very jet lagged! After checking into the Impression Lodge and having a brief use of the WiFi, we headed to the restaurant for a yummy Chinese meal and a couple of beers. This was a chance to get to know the others in the group a bit more (some of us had already met in the airport/on the plane) – there were 17 of us all together.

As we were all tired, after a couple of drinks and a briefing about plans for the next day, we headed back to our rooms and packed our day sacks ready for the first day of trekking.

China Trek Day 1-Impression Lodge
China Trek Day 1-Impression Lodge

On day 1, we woke up early and headed to breakfast, after which we made our packed lunches, which consisted of strange yellow Chinese bread and some fruit and biscuits, and we filled our water bottles/bladders. At this point it still felt surreal to us all that we were actually in China and about to do what we were going to do!

We then got onto the coach, taking all our bags and stuff with us, as the next night we were staying at a different lodge. This part was a bit of a pain for me as lugging my huge rucksack around was really not easy! Most of the time I dragged it along the floor or some one helped me with it (luckily).  We travelled about an hour or so to our first challenge: the Jinshanling Loop.

China Trek Day 1 - Jinshanling Loop Sign

We felt very lucky on the first day as the weather was perfect for walking and for getting some truly stunning views of the wall – it was sunny with pure blue skies and a high of around 17/18 degrees.

When we arrived, we had a quick toilet break and our first experience of the Chinese “squatting” toilets! Luckily they were clean but it was a strange experience initially, as we are not used to them back in the UK. We then walked up to the visitor gate and got ourselves ready, sorted out our walking poles etc and headed on for the first part of the trek.

To get onto the wall itself, we first had to walk up ALOT of steps and I think this is the first point where I (and others) realised how tough this was going to be. It took at least an hour of climbing what felt like endless steps before we made it onto the wall, but when we did, my god the views were worth it. This was the first time we had properly seen the wall itself and I was taken aback by how beautiful it was, especially as it was such a clear day and you could see the wall snaking around the mountains for miles and miles.

China Trek Day 1 - Jinshanling Loop

One of the main things that hit me at this point was also how steep the wall was! The word of the week was undulating – as it was pretty much constant ups and downs. I don’t think anything can prepare you for the sheer steepness, as we really have nothing like it back in the UK. The pictures don’t do it justice but I took some pictures just to try and show how steep it was. All I can say is I really don’t know how people manage to run the Great Wall of China marathon on here!!!

China Trek Day 1 - Jinshanling

China Trek Day 1 - Jinshanling Loop 3

China Trek Day 1 - Jinshanling - steep steps
China Trek Day 1 – Jinshanling – steep steps
China Trek Day 1 - Jinshanling - more steep steps
China Trek Day 1 – Jinshanling – more steep steps

After a few hours of trekking, we stopped for lunch and a bit of a rest and the views were just insane. We all said we didn’t think we’d ever had a better view for lunch before! Even if we did have to eat strange yellow bread 😉

China Trek Day 1 - lunch
China Trek Day 1 – lunch

After lunch, it was more of the same and after more trekking and being chased by women selling t-shirts, magnets and purses, some of the group started the walk down back to the coach and the rest of us carried on a bit further to an older, less renovated section of the wall. This was the first time seeing a less renovated part and it was sad to see it literally crumbling away in sections.

China Trek Day 1 - Jinshanling
Less Renovated Part of Jinshanling
China Trek Day 2 - Less renovated section of the wall
Less renovated section of the wall

We walked as far as we could until we came to a section which had completely crumbled away, so was impassable.

China Trek Day 2 - Impassable part of the wall
Impassable part of the wall
China Trek Day 2 - End of the wall
China Trek Day 1 – End of the wall

After this, it was time for the descent back down to the coach. The steps down felt like they went on forever!! When we got to the bottom, we were sweating and our legs were aching but we were pleased to see a guy selling beer in the car park – result! So of course I (and a few others) bought a beer and we sat in the sun and drank it before getting on the coach and heading onto the lodge where we spent the second night.

China Trek Day 1 - Beers!
China Trek Day 1 – Beers!

A great end to a fantastic first day! After finishing our beers we headed to the next stop – Green Lodge in Gubeikou village, as on day 2 we would be trekking the Gubeikou section of the wall.

On the way though, just as we were starting to relax, our coach got stopped for a random police check and we had to haul all our luggage off the bus and take it, with our passports, to be checked in the police station! That was a little scary and also the first time it’s happened to our guide. Everything was ok though and we all got back onto the coach and arrived at the Green lodge an hour or so later.

This first night was my favourite night of the whole trip as the lodge was really cute, very authentic Chinese.

China Trek Day 1 - Second Hotel - Green Lodge
China Trek Day 1 – Second Hotel – Green Lodge

After a brief rest, shower and packing of our bags ready for day 2, we headed downstairs for food. We had an amazing meal of traditional Chinese food and beers, and tried some traditional Chinese rice wine, which is very strong and tastes like more of a spirit than wine.

China Trek Day 1 - Chinese meal
China Trek Day 1 – Chinese meal

After a good night we headed to bed, exhausted and ready for day 2 – the Gubeikou section.