Having internet issues so will upload photos later.
Many people will tell you what ‘must dos’ there are in a country. At the end of it there’s too many things, especially when the country is so far from your own and thus makes available a drastically different lifestyle. All that being said, the Great Wall really is a remarkable structure!
Hiking up to our starting point with 10kg packs seemed arduous at first. After a moments pause you remember that over 600 years ago (1368?) men would have been bringing stone up the steep incline along with the tools needed to build them. It is quite bizarre how man has build these crazy structures at the cost of many lives (none were lost on our expedition).
We set off around midday from the Huairou District (possibly Cashikou Village) to head up to our campsite at the Great Wall Spur. It was pretty warm so with our packs on we worked up quite a sweat. We had a pit stop in a cooling cave for a snack and a bit of water. The difference in temperature between our bodies and our surroundings was so great that we were literally steaming (it was pretty cool (pardon the pun!)).
Trekking up a mountain path, mostly forged by goats and wanderers, was steep, tiring, and a little uneventful scenery wise.This made the first leg feel a lot more tiresome that it probably was. After a couple of hours we had arrived at our campsite and setup our tents before exploring.
We were on a stretch of the wall that reaches a dead end so we didn’t have too far to go. It didn’t matter much either as we had to battle our way through the untamed wilderness!
Dinner was that old classic, pot noodles. We also had some Baijiu (‘White Liqour’ or your standard grain spirit) and red wine provided by some of the other campers. As the sun set very early, the sky was overcast (with pollution), and we were all very tired, we decided to get an early night, ready for an early morning.
After a night of crazy dreams, that I won’t go into detail about, I awoke to the sound of silence…and a full bladder. I hastily unzip my tent and run to the closest bush and slowly realise that I can barely see a meter in-front of me. The whole wall is enveloped in a thin, clinging mist.
I return to the tents, briefly chatting to our guide, turn around, and the previously shrouded mountains were now visible. The mist had quickly sunk to only cover the lower parts of the wall. I was astounded at how rapid this change in scenery was. It was then, after rest and food, that I really appreciated my surroundings.
I’ve got lots of photos of the wall and surrounding landscape, but they fail to capture the truly awe-inspiring nature of this setting. It is the first place in my travels where I have genuinely felt a sense of uniqueness to where I was. Atmosphere is what I am looking for. Some sort of ethereal, intangible beauty. Part of this I am sure comes from the effort exerted in reaching the goal.
Although I am still having a few issues with my left knee, the hike didn’t seem to aggravate it, which is strange considering I was carrying extra weight and probably putting considerable strain on my knees! With this knowledge I hope to do more hiking/camping in the future, on this trip and when I return. Maybe I’ll move to Scotland and bag some Munros.