Sally - the Only Woman Walked the Entire Great Wall of China Alone

In 1990, Sally, a 51-year-old American woman, spent half a year trekking the entire Great Wall of China on her own and became the only woman who hiked the whole Great Wall of China alone. After, she established a charitable organization named after the Great Wall to raise funds to support those in needs in China.

Sally Fell in Love with Great Wall of China on Her First Visit There

In May of 1990, Sally came to China for a trip. The first stop of the itinerary was Mutianyu Great Wall. Looking at the Great Wall zigzagging along the mountain ridges, she was amazed, believed that Great Wall was indeed the essence of Chinese culture, and fell in love with it.

Made the Decision to Hike the Entire Great Wall

After going back to America, Sally could not stop thinking of Great Wall and made a brave decision to hike the entire Wall on her own.

Started Hiking in July, 1990

In July of 1990, Sally was sponsored by a US company and came to China again to achieve her dream. Although it is the hot summer in China, Sally took her first step bravely in Jiayuguan, known as the western end of the Great Wall.

Various Difficulties on the Way

The excitement in her heart was quickly overwhelmed by the difficulties that followed, but she did not give up.

Language Barrier

Before depature, Sally’s friend prepared a booklet with various commonly used sentences in Chinese, such as “I want to drink water”, “I want to eat” and more. However, Sally found it was not enough as most people lived along the Great Wall were unlettered. She could only express her needs in body language.

Harsh Environment

Sometimes, she needed to sleep open air. It was not a problem on sunny nights; but if it rained, it was quite difficult to set up a tent on a muddy ground and it was rather uncomfortable to sleep on the cold land. And it was the most intolerable thing to get out from the tent to answer the call of nature on the chilly winter nights.

There were wild boars and other wild animals around the Great Wall, and Sally was terrified when she camped at night. One night, she heard some noise in the grass, she opened the flashlight and saw a hugh cat. The animal stared at her and she was too terrified to fight back, just escaped to the tent quickly and prayed to God that she wouldn’t be eaten. She stayed up overnight and only got a sigh of relief in the next morning.


One day after walking the Great Wall for 3 months, Sally suddenly had a high fever with severe bronchitis, therefore she had to temporarily stop her hike and decided to go back to Beijing for a few days. She arrived in Beijing to seek help from the US Embassy in China. The embassy arranged a doctor to treat her and advised her to return to the US after her recovery. However, after a few days of rest, she continued to complete her Great Wall hiking.

Reached Shanhaiguan Half a Year Later

About half a year later, Sally reached Shanhaiguan at the east end of the Great Wall, 35 pounds lighter than when she started. It was winter and the Great Wall seemed so grand and solemn covered by white snow. Sally wrote a diary every day. The diary and the photos she took along the Great Wall were well collected in her American home.

Founded a Charitable Organization Named after Great Wall

Perhaps there was special connection between Sally and China. In August of 1994, Sally had the opportunity to be a teacher in Beijing with the help of the Chicago Consulate. She had lived in China for many years since then, feeling the goodness of the Chinese, and also giving goodwill to those who needed help in China. She even founded a charitable organization named after Great Wall to help Chinese in need.

 Read stories of others who have walked the entire Great Wall of China:
 William Edgar Geil - The First One Hiked the Entire Great Wall of China: He took 3 months and finished in 1908.
 Dong Yaohui Hiked the Entire Great Wall: He took 508 days and completed on September 24, 1985
 Liu Yutian – the First Person Hiked the Great Wall Alone: He took 2 years and finished on April 5, 1986.
 William Lindsay - Working on Great Wall Protection after Trekking: He took 8 months to hike in 1987.
 Ren Erlin & Ren Zigeng – Chinese Father and Son Trekked the Great Wall: They took 89 days and finished the hiking in 2003.
 Jamie Bradish & Rob England - a US Pair Took 10 Months to Walk the Great Wall: They finished in 2007.
 Stephen Robert Loken – the First Person Walked to the East End of Hushan Great Wall: He took 601 days and completed in 2011.

Further Reading:
How to Hike the Full Length of the Great Wall of China? 8,851.8 km!
How Long to Walk the Great Wall of China?
Has anyone walked the Great Wall of China?
- Last updated on Jun. 10, 2020 -
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