Stephen Robert Loken – the First Person Walked to the East End of Hushan Great Wall

The Norwegian Stephen Robert Loken has a name card bearing his Chinese net name “zou chang cheng”, which means walking the Great Wall. Walking the entire Great Wall was the man’s dream since the age of nine and he finally fulfilled this dream after about thirty years.

On April 14, 2009, Robert started the journey from Jiayuguan Great Wall in Gansu Province. 601 days later, he reached the Hushan Great Wall in Dandong City, Liaoning Province, and became the first person to trek the entire span of the Great Wall of China. Though a dozen foreigners and some Chinese claimed that they had already walked the entire Great Wall before, Robert was the first man to extend the walk to Hushan, the actual easternmost end of the Great Wall.

The Great Wall of China – My Dream

Robert was born in Oslo, the capital of Norway. He had a stable and decent job, working as an IT engineer at a bank. Through hard work, he bought a big house. All things seemed perfect. However, Robert could not forget a dream of years as a passionate Great Wall enthusiast. Since he learned about the Great Wall from a book at the age of nine, he had an eagerness to walk on it someday.

In 1998, with the help of his brother, he went to China to study Chinese. He did not spoil this opportunity and explored some sections of the Great Wall, like Jiayuguan, Panjiakou, and Shanhaiguan. The 2-month study ended soon and he had to leave. This short but close contact with the Great Wall left Robert an unforgettable memory.

After returning to Oslo, Robet began to make preparation for an entire walk on the Great Wall. He did not hesitate to quit the job and even sold his house to collect money for the trip. In 2009, Robert went to China again and paid a visit to Dong Yaohui, a notable scholar on the Great Wall as well as the founder of the China Great Wall Society. Robert’s plan had gained the full support of this association and they promised to assist him. Soon, Robert set foot on his way of dream.

601 Days on the Great Wall

Robert spent 601 days altogether to walk the entire Great Wall. This journey spanned approximately 6,000 km (3,728 mi) from Jiayuguan to Hushan, passing Gansu, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, and Hebei provinces. Averagely, he walked at a pace of about 30 km (19 mi) per day. Sometimes, if the weather was bad, he could only walk half the distance. In worse weather conditions like blizzard, Robert had to stop to camp. 

Along the way, Robert had to suffer from extreme temperatures in the deserts and deal with snakes, mosquitoes, scorpions and wild dogs. He often got injured and at one time even passed out in a heavy storm. All these did not stop his step and he finally accomplished the amazing feat.

Besides his laptop, sleeping bag, compass, tent, map, walking stick, food and water, what accompanied Robert most of the time was endless sense of loneliness. But for him, this was also a chance of reflection.

The Great Wall – My Love

In 1998, an uncle of Robert died of bone cancer. When he determined to walk the entire Great Wall, he thought he should do something for those with cancer. Therefore, he intended to raise funds for a cancer research center in Norway during the Great Wall trek. He published blogs every day on the internet and hoped people to pay more attention to cancer patients.

The magnificent Great Wall did not only inspire Robert to show affection to cancer patients, it also led him to fall in love with China. He wrote in his blog that he loved this country with beautiful natural sceneries and profound history and culture. In the Great Wall hike, love was always the power to encourage Robert to move forward.

 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.
 Sally - the Only Woman Walked the Entire Great Wall of China Alone: She took half a year to hike in 1990.
 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.

  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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