Right at the top of my bucket list was The Great Wall of China. So when we visited Beijing in June 2014, this was the only thing that I really wanted to do. We made a last minute decision to hike from Jiankou to Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China. We did some quick research and found a hiking tour. Fortunately Joe was able to fit us in for this one day hike.
Joe and his driver picked us up from Beijing and we drove out for 2hrs to a local village near the wall. We traversed farm lands, passing donkeys along the way and started ascending an uphill climb for an hour before reaching an impressive view of Jiankou. There have only been three man-made structures to take my breath away, and the Great Wall of China was one of them (the other two being Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and the Pyramids in Egypt).
Jiankou is the unrestored part of the Great Wall of China, often referred to as the wild wall, and with good reason. Trees sprouted out through the wall and uprooted bricks. Some sections were completely covered with vegetation and apricot trees were commonly found here.
Joe told us that the Great Wall of China was also the longest graveyard in history. Workers often died from exhaustion and dehydration. Some bodies were even buried inside the structure of the wall.
The workmanship of the wall is something to behold. When each brick was created, the workers had to inscribe their name on the brick. This was to ensure the quality of the bricks so that if the brick was poorly made and broke, they would know the person responsible and they would be punished. I guess in a sense this was an effective measure as the wall is still standing today after thousands of years.
When we reached the end of the wild wall and onto the restored section of Mutianyu, Joe asked which we preferred. There was no hesitation when I answered the wild wall. Jiankou is spectacularly beautiful and we must have only passed one group on the wild wall trek. The inaccessibility, the quiet and peace made marveling at one of mankind’s greatest architectural accomplishments that much more enjoyable.
When the wall was built, the workers cleared the vegetation surrounding the mountains so that they could easily spot their enemies coming. Nowadays, there is vegetation everywhere. A lone Chinese man is setting up shop to sell water to tourists. I can’t imagine that he’d get many customers here.
Some steep uphill sections of the trek.
Our guide Joe pointing out some apricot trees in a completely covered section of the wild wall.
Inside one of the beacon towers of the wild wall.
We came across a tree wrapped with ribbons with people’s wishes.
We reach the restored part of the Great Wall of China, Mutianyu.
As though hiking 10km wasn’t enough, Joe and Jackson decide to race each other to the next beacon tower.
Details of Jiankou to Mutianyu Hike
- Tour guide: Joe
- Website: http://www.greatwall-hike.com
- Length: 10km
- Cost: 860RMB each for 2 people