Helen Lost on Great Wall

April 29, 2008

Helen – First day in China and we go to the WALL….it is a long drive and the pollution is heavy.  Tom’s brothers, Joe (American Embassy China) and Pat (who just visited us in Sri Lanka), Tom and I are off for the first adventure.  We pack a lunch and will be walking part of the Great Wall at Simatai.  Joe partially tore his Achilles tendon about five months ago and still isn’t ready for any long, strenuous hikes, so we decide to take the cable cars and mini train as high as we can before we begin our hiking.  It is truly amazing that we are exploring another of the “seven wonders of the world.” 

The route in stone

Cable cars

View on the way up

This is amazing

Built east to west across the historical northern border of China

Comrade protector of the Great Wall

After lunch, we turn around to retrace our path to the rides down the mountain. 


Tom, having a great time

It is estimated that the wall (all parts east to west) is about 5,500 miles long!

Returning to our drop down point

As I understand it, we are going to walk some distance in the opposite direction before going down.  Pat walks ahead of us, and then Tom and Joe begin talking to someone, so I begin walking, following Pat.  Relatively soon, I pass Pat and continue slowing, waiting for the others to catch up.  As I hang out in one of the outposts, Pat passes me and I say, “I’m behind you now!”  Slowly, I continue walking; now alone, thinking I am behind one brother and in front of the other two.  I never see any of them again for quite some time.


I keep walking; pass the walk to the train and cable cars. I am walking slowly and constantly turning around looking for the other two, knowing that Pat has to pass me when he returns.  I finally see Tom and Joe on the top of a watch tower and begin waving and calling them.  They are pretty far away, but I recognize Tom’s orange shirt and Joe’s hat.  They don’t see me for quite a while, but finally they wave.  I don’t see how they can miss me with my bright red jacket!!  Now that I made contact, I assume that they will follow me, so I begin walking again. I pass the walking path back to the parking lot, then continue and am deciding if I should continue to the swinging bridge which crosses the river.  I decide to wait, and can’t understand why they haven’t caught up with me…either set of brothers.  After a good half hour, I am getting upset and decide to return to see if can make contact with Tom and Joe and hope that Pat catches up with us later.


Still without contact, I am getting upset now and decide that I am not climbing up to the watch towers and decide to descend to the parking lot and hope that they figure out my plan.  I hate being by myself and not knowing what they are doing.  As I get off the cable car and begin walking I hear over the loud speaker “HEY HELEN, THIS IS JOE.  WE ALL THREE ARE AT THE PARKING LOT. PLEASE LET SOMEONE KNOW WHERE YOU ARE!!” Am I ticked????  YES!!!!  As I come to where they are, they are totally upset and ready to send out the search and rescue to look for me…I just walk pass them all and go to the car and don’t talk to any of them for at least two hours.


It all comes down to communication!!!!  Of course, we need some help in this area. 


I am sure that there will be more detail in the blog…but this is just a head’s up that our lives continue to be challenging.


Tom – Now, Helen wanted to leave our lunch site before everyone else.  On the way up we had stated that we would return by the same route that we had scaled the wall because of Joe’s Achilles’ tendon problem.  Why did she pass the appropriate descent trail?   We may never know.  I know that I was ready to go up and search the route and then if unsuccessful call Search and Rescue!

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