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LESSONS LEARNED ON THE GREAT WALL

John Hilton III

September 06, 2011
A few months ago my wife and I, along with my brother Cameron, traveled to China to experience and immerse ourselves in the culture.

One of the highlights of our trip was visiting the Great Wall. We decided to skip the touristy section of the Great Wall and instead traveled a couple of hours to a section that was pretty much deserted. In fact, it was so remote that we didn’t come in contact with anyone else for several hours.

It was beautiful.
We continued to hike on the Great Wall for a few hours, stopping to take pictures and enjoy the views. About 1:00 PM we got to a point where we could either head to a village or continue on the wall. There were two high towers ahead of us that appeared to be close together and looked really inviting, so we decided to keep on going. Reaching the first tower was a lot tougher than we thought it would be. The trail was broken down, and in some parts it was like rock-climbing walls, where you have to grab on with your hands and scale up.

When we got to the top of the first tower, we paused to enjoy the magnificent view.
From the top of this tower we had a new perspective. The second tower no longer looked close. Instead, there was a steep decline and then a very sharp rise. We were pretty tired so we decided to skip the second tower.

Now we were in a tricky situation. How were we going to get down from the first tower? The climb up had been very difficult and getting back down didn’t look any easy. We’d been hiking for several hours and were tired.


I saw what appeared to be a little trail off to the side that looked like it might later connect with the main trail that led to the village. My wife said in dismay, “That’s not a trail, it’s a rock slide!” But I thought that it looked really good and persuaded my wife and brother to start down the “trail.”

At first, the “trail” seemed okay. There was some trash here and there as well as the occasional yellow flag tied around a tree, so we knew others had gone that route. However, after twenty minutes, the trail was becoming increasingly steep. We found ourselves constantly holding on to trees to keep us from sliding down the mountain.
(here's an action shot!)

My wife wanted to turn back. My brother did too, but I said, “We’ve already been hiking for twenty minutes, if we turn around, we will have wasted all that time.” It was clear, however, that this was a much harder hike than going down the Great Wall would have been.

Another thirty minutes passed and we were no closer to the trail that led to the village. Now the mountain was getting very steep. In some places it seemed like if weren’t careful, we could easily fall down the mountainside.

We decided to pray together. After a prayer, and a little bit more searching, we felt that we should go back the way we came.
Going back up was possibly the toughest part. I don’t think I want to do any more rock climbing walls, because I’ve done it for real, and without the harness. When we finally reached the top, we could clearly see that there was no way that the so-called trail would have ever merged with the real trail. We could see that we had literally been hiking down a very steep mountainside with lots of cliffs and drop-offs.

We carefully made our way down the steep section of the wall, and walked safely back to town. I was exhausted, but I had learned some lessons:

1. When in trouble, pray.

2. Satan can tempt you by saying, “You’ve already gone this far, just keep going. It will be too hard to turn back.” But if you’re not on the right path, it’s better to turn back, no matter how hard it will be.

3. Most important—Listen to your wife (but you already knew that one)!


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