Friday, June 8, 2012

The Great Wall of China

Hiking on the second day in the Gubeikou section of the Wall.  Sara is now a "hiking pole hiker" until she can go a few months without spraining an ankle!

Wow!  The Great Wall is enormous.  You really have to see it to believe it.  We only covered a tiny bit of it, 20 miles, over three days of hiking.  Along the way we enjoyed a sunrise, a sunset, and three picnics.  We probably saw fewer than 20 other people during our three days on the Wall, so it felt like we had it all to ourselves.  It was perfect!

On our first day we hiked mostly along a wild and unrestored section of the Wall starting at Jiankou.  At the end of the day we reached the huge restored section at Mutiyanu, so we had a taste of both the Wall as it used to be and the Wall as it is today.  That first night we stayed at a local farmer's guesthouse and ate way too many noodles!

We spent our second day hiking the Gubeikou section of the Wall.  It was especially interesting because there is a portion of the Wall that is closed because it borders a Chinese military base.  We had to leave the top of the Wall and walk through some corn fields to get around the closed portion.  We could hear a bunch of firing from the range on the base and at one point some soldiers patrolling the top of the wall yelled something to us.  As David pointed out, "it's been 600 years since the Wall was built and the Chinese are still patrolling it!"  We spent our second night in Jinshanling and walked back up to the Wall to catch a nice sunset after dinner.

On the third day we were up at 4:15 a.m. for sunrise.  It was spectacular!  Thank goodness, or we would have been disappointed after getting up so early.  After a picnic breakfast we enjoyed perhaps the most spectacular views of the whole trip as we hiked to the western edge of the Simatai section of the Wall.

We think that it was a good decision to spend three days on the Wall, giving us enough time to explore it in depth.  We loved spending the majority of our time on the totally authentic, unrestored sections.  Our guide from Great Wall Hiking was with us the whole time.  He taught us a bunch, kept us from getting lost, and added a lot to our trip.  It is hard to describe the incredible views and scenery of the Great Wall.  Definitely a Wonder of the World!

Our first day was very foggy.  It gave a mysterious feeling to the wall!

Climbing down a steep section on the third day


  1. Amazing! My office had a group (from Outdoor Recreation) at the Great Wall the same week you were there!! They too were at the undeveloped area, hiking, camping and visiting local villages. I can't believe you were there at the same time- I should have gone with them and could have seen you!!

    Amazing trip and I am so glad you wrote this blog so we can travel with you! Miss you much!

    1. That is so amazing - what a small world! I can't even tell you how cool it would have been to see you there :)

      Miss you tons!

  2. Thanks for this briiliant post and all the lovely pics--Your pictures are amazing. Just looking at those pictures make me want to climb the Great Wall of China now. I also found a great blog of Jinshanling travel tips, I’d love to share it here with you and for future travelers.