Ever since i joined the "Travel China Beijing" group on facebook, i've always wanted to go on one of the 'wild' great wall treks organized by Davis. Usually the prospect of waking up early in the morning (6am!!) would put me off from joining the trip but this time during the 3-day dragon boat festival weekend (between 28'th to 30'th May) i decided to stop being lazy for a change and join the trip. As per Davis, this section of the wall was one of the best spots for photography. The following is in his own words..
"If you look carefully at the recent published Great Wall photo albums, you will quickly find that many of the pictures are taken at Jiankou Great Wall. Due to its unique style, steep mountains and beautiful scenery, Jiankou Great Wall has become a photographic hotspot and also a hot travel destination among the local hikers these days. 'Jiankou', is translated as 'Arrow Nock' in English, because the shape of the mountain is like an arrow, with the collapsed ridge opening as its arrow nock."
The meeting point was outside the Jishutan subway station at 7:00am. I arrived there at about 7:10 and unsurprisingly i was the last one. There were about 6 of us, excluding Davis and we set off on a minivan towards a small village in HuaiRou county in the north of Beijing. After paying the 20RMB (each) 'entrance fee' to the villagers we started our hike.
I don't think we traversed the entire section of the Jiankou wall. We started from the village and scrambled up a hillside to get to the Zhenbeilou tower. I used to think that all that cycling to and fro from work would've made me really fit but it was wrong. It was tough going up the mountain side and i had to take frequent breathers. I was not alone though, as everyone else in our group felt the same way.
Once we got to the ZhenBeiLou tower, then everything was worth it. The views of the wall were stunning and standing up there i could why it is a photographers paradise. But now was not the time for it.. to really capture one of those masterpieces one would have to camp here on the wall and hope for a magical sunset and/or an equally brilliant sunrise. We came across many people who were doing just that.. camping on the wall and packing up their tents to go back home. I was inspired and resolved to return here soon and spend a night under the stars.
The going was easy from then on. We were walking towards the Mutianyu section of the wall. We took it slow, stopping frequently to chat about the history of the wall and to take pictures. It was a brilliant day with clear blue skies and puffy white clouds. Exactly how i wished the day would me. Got some nice pictures and got to know my fellow hikers.
Its a bit funny but the best part of the trip for me was the lunch. Down at the Mutianyu section there were numerous restaurants and all of them had one speciality. Rainbow Trout... fresh from their holding tanks and off to be steamed, barbecued or fried as per your wishes. As an added attraction they also let people catch their own fish from the tanks. It was fun for all the chinese and foreigners alike and we had a wonderful lunch. Davis told us that some people drive up here all the way from Beijing just for the fish... and it was not hard for me to believe.
All in all it was a nice day. Enjoyed the hike, made some new friends and loved the food. Next time i can come by myself with some other friends.. take a bus to Mutianyu and hike up to Jiankou from there. Pack some barbecued fish for dinner and camp up in the wall and take stunning pictures in evening and again in the morning. Sounds too good to be true and maybe it is.. but im gonna try and find out. Soon..