I have been away on a bit of a sabbatical…in China!  Without a doubt, hiking the Great Wall of China was definitely the highlight of my trip. And yes, that’s me!  Star jumping for joy!

My husband and I decided on doing a 2 day hike, covering four different sections of the wall.  We began our trek at Gubeikou, bright and early in the morning, with a beautiful blue topaz sky as a backdrop.

It is pretty hard to describe the magnitude of how incredibly spectacular the wall is, other than to say that it is totally AWESOME!

This section is part of a military base, so we had to go down off the wall, take a 2 hour detour around it, and then climb back up again.  I enjoyed the detour as we got a good feel for the layout of the land and also saw many interesting things, like this abandoned home.

This implement used to straddle a donkey for carting goods.  There were many other artifacts lying around, including an old grinding wheel and the original oven was still inside the home.

From Gubeikou, we continued onto the Jinshanling section.  This section really test the old legs, with quite a few steep parts, but my oh my, the views were just beautiful!  Throughout the day, we only passed a handful of other people.  The wall on these two sections was very quite and very peaceful.

As evening fell, our driver took us back to the Gubeikou section where we set up our tent in a watchtower for the night.  It was a bit of a challenge getting the tent to fit, but my husband and our guide got there in the end!

As night fell, this was the view from our watchtower.  Pretty special hey?!

I came prepared…I pulled out a little bottle of champers from my pack and we toasted to the Great Wall in all its glory!  We ended up woofing it down quite smartly though, as the temperature was dropping rapidly.  We were headed for an overnight temperature of zero, and it was time to be in that tent!

Brrr…. we woke up to a freezing morning on the wall and we couldn’t wait to climb down and find our driver and get in his warm car! After a quick breakfast, we drove for a couple of hours to the Jiankou section.  In the above photo, you can just make out the watch tower that I am pointing to; we had a wet and muddy, steep climb of an hour to get up there.  Whoa, it was hard yakka!  It nearly killed us!

When we finally made it to the top, we were so disappointed that the smog of Beijing had reached this area.  Our guide told us that this is normally the most picturesque point.  We had to take him at his word though, for we certainly couldn’t see much past the first couple of watchtowers.

We pressed on and came to a nicely decorated area, but the pollution was ruining any landscape views.

From Jiankou, we walked onto the restored section of Mutianyu.

A look back to where we had walked down from…and yes, the old knees were beginning to feel it!

We walked with our guide to the watch tower of Mutianyu where there was a cable car.  Our guide went down on it, but we elected to go down by toboggan.  It meant another 40 minutes of walking for us, but we reckoned we needed a bit of fun to finish off our day.  And fun it was!  It cost about $9 for the ticket, but it really was a thrill to zip down the side of the mountain!

All in all, hiking the Great Wall over two days was exhausting, but a most memorable journey 🙂