We now can say that we’ve hiked 8/12 sections of the Great Wall here in Beijing.
Last weekend, we decided to hike the Xiangshuihu section of the Great Wall which is actually just beyond the Mutianyu section. GPS originally said about 1 hour 40 min but it took us just over 2 hours due to traffic.
So as we drove right by the parking lot of Mutianyu and saw the crowds heading up that part of the Wall, we were happy to continue on down the road to this other section. We didn’t know what to expect since we hadn’t been there, but I was thinking (and hoping) for less crowds.
Our GPS told us we arrived (with the Wall still off in the distance), so we parked the car in this kind of make-shift parking lot and went up to the ticket window. There was definitely no English spoken here, so I’m glad for the words I do know. We had to buy our tickets for the Great Wall here along with pay a small fee (maybe 15 kuai) to then be able to drive our car up the road closer to the Great Wall.
Before even getting to the Wall, we could see it in the distance. Ben and I both said it reminded us a bit of Chengdu here. The mountains were tall with trees that were so green. It was also super cool seeing this mist/cloud hovering around one part of the mountain and the Wall (thankfully, it turned out to be a nice day and didn’t rain on us!).
As we drove up, it’s a pretty tight road for two cars, so you do have to be cautious. Fortunately, it’s not heavily crowded. Once you pass through the tunnel, there is a parking lot. We parked there (well, actually we continued to the parking lot 1 but there wasn’t much there, so we decided to turn around and park to access this side of the Wall).
We parked and heard music playing at the dam (there is a dam at the bottom of this part of the Wall). There used to be water here (Xiangshui Lake) but no more. There was some sort of fashion show or something happening at the bottom of the steps leading up to the Wall. It was quite interesting. All these ladies were dressed up and there was an announcer dressed in a tux talking to a video camera. We’re still not quite sure what it was about but our timing was perfect because they were finishing up once we got there which meant that we could walk by and start our hike.
There were a few other people on the Wall but it was pretty much empty (so nice!). We climbed down some steep steps (you always know the parts are steep when there are hand rails for you) and then continued our long, long climb up. The most challenging part of the Wall isn’t necessarily the steepness but the height of the steps. Some steps are SO tall and then some are so narrow. You are taking normal steps are you climb.
One nice thing about climbing here was that we were hiking in the shade. That made such a difference!
We hiked up and up and up until we reached a guard tower. At that point, we couldn’t hike any further as it was completely overgrown.
TOTE: Get out and explore!