Despite the fact that our alarm was sounding at 6am, waking up this morning brought an overwhelming sense of accomplishment to us both. We had already completed one full day of hiking the Great Wall of China from Jiankou to Mutianyu, with 10kms in the books.
We quickly dressed and made our way to the lobby for a quick breakfast before hopping in the van and heading to the next hiking section for the day. Our hike today would the longest and toughest route of the 3 days, starting at Gubeikou and ending at Jinshanling.
Much like Jiankou, Gubeikou is another unrestored section of the wall and although they share this trait, there is nothing similar about them. Where Jiankou moves up and down mountains and literally has trees growing on the wall, Gubeikou runs a slightly flatter track and due to being constructed with different materials, a whole different feel.
~Gubeikou Great Wall~
~Looking out over the Gubeikou Section~
The top of the wall in this section is also growing vegetation, but it is much tamer. Straight down the middle of the wall is a tamped hiking trail the ebbs and flows and the wall makes its way through the countryside. Many of the watchtowers on this section are decaying and in ruins and as you pass them they whisper their history to you.
In terms of weather, we couldn’t have asked for a better day. We had a slight breeze at our backs and the brightest blue skies we have seen since New Zealand. We had clear visibility is all direction and no hint of smog, fog or rain in sight. We knew this was incredible luck as we have heard the horror stories and seen the photos of people’s visits to the wall being ruined by smog and poor weather. We couldn’t believe our luck, two days in a row of clear blue skies and perfect visibility.
Half way through the hike we encountered a section that is maintained by the army, thus meaning we were not allowed to pass this section. This detour took us off the wall and into the jungles that surround the wall. This section of the hike takes two hours and led us through some of the most beautiful forests and hidden farm crops we have ever seen. Occasionally we would pass through areas with abandoned farmhouses that prompted us into many great discussions with our guide about the history of the area and the Great Wall of China itself.
Getting back on the wall was extremely rewarding, as even though it isn’t easy to hike, the jungle trek was challenging and humid. Being back on the wall in the open air was a relief for us all and we marched happily towards our end goal with a brilliant breeze at our backs.
The transformation from Gubeikou to Jinshanling went almost identical to the day before with Jiankou to Mutianyu. The wall slowly transformed before our eyes from ruins to restored and the people became visible in the distance again. Like Mutianyu, Jinshanling is another section that is open to the public and many people make the trip from Beijing to this section for a visit.
The crowds were much heavier on this section and we weaved through the crowds to the exit point from the wall and into the tourist park. It was 1:30pm and we already had 6.5 hours of hiking on the books. We were famished and happy to visit one of the restaurants that served up a traditional Chinese meal.
~Last part of Gubeikou~
~View of Jinshanling Section~
We were thankful for an early finish as the China summer heat was in full swing that day and as we left the restaurant we welcomed the air conditioned comfort of the van on our return to the Simatai farmers village where we would spend the rest of our day relaxing and resting for our third day of hiking.
Have you hiked or visited the Gubeikou section of the Great Wall of China?
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Disclosure: We partnered with Great Wall Hiking to bring you this hiking adventure. All opinions are 100% mine. All photos created and owned by Divergent Travelers.