This past weekend was a 3-day holiday in China, for the traditional Tomb Sweeping holiday. I decided to do something that I would find life-giving and help me enjoy life in China. I went with a group on an overnight hiking and camping trip to the Great Wall. The area we went to is to the west of Beijing proper, although on the edge of the whole of Beijing. This area of the wall has not been restored, and is at various levels of disrepair. We hiked about 6 or 7 kilometers on the first day, camped out on the top of the wall overnight, and hiked out the next day. The Great Wall is built atop of mountains, so it is quite different from hiking in Michigan.
The hike crossed over a section of wall built by the Northern Qi Dynasty (550-577 AD). This dynasty is so short that I had actually not remembered it from my study of Chinese history. Even though it was a tumultuous, short dynasty, they did manage to build one part of the Wall. Most of the wall in this area was built in the early Ming dynasty (late 1300’s, early 1400’s).
This is called the General’s Watchtower, because it has 6 windows on the side. Normal watchtowers have fewer. The top of this watchtower was the highest point of our hike, about 1,030 meters (3,379 feet). The elevation of the mountains is higher than Beijing, so the trees and plants are not flowering and budding in the same way they are in Beijing. We climbed down that crumbling stairway you see in the photo. It was not fun. As much as I don’t really like climbing uphill, this and a couple of descents on the second day were a bit scary.
But, this was our campsite! We camped right on the wall. The organization owns the tents and sleeping bags and such and arranged to have them delivered to the top of the wall for us. They also provided all the food and even prepared it for us. It was really well organized and run. Our guides were also great!
My backpack and trekking pole. Actually, the pole also belongs to the organization, and they let us use them. I’d never used one before and I’m so glad I did! It made the scary parts slightly less scary.
A not great photo of me, but the best I have, close to the highest point of the hike.