I was really looking forward to getting outside and learning more about the history of this section. Unfortunately, when the day finally came, the sky was overcast, and it was cold and rainy. I thought about staying at home, but eventually decided to go. And I was really glad I did. Jeremiah and Simon, the trip's leaders, brought a wealth of knowledge of this region's history and natural setting. They did a great job of explaining the circumstances that led to the wall's construction in the 16th century. When I went to Gubeikou without a guide, I simply hiked on the wall. But this time, I could really envision Manchu armies invading from the north, and Chinese troops taking positions to defend their homeland.
If you're looking for a Great Wall experience that's more challenging than sitting in a cable car, but not too strenuous or dangerous, then this trip is for you.
The Hutong is a cultural exchange center based in Beijing. They offer cooking classes, walking tours of the city, and trips that go further afield. For more info, you can check out The Hutong's Website.
Here are a few photos from this trip:
Simon points out the geography of Gubeikou. A river to our west acts as a natural barrier against invasion.
Yup, that's the Great Wall.
Here you can see the outer section of the wall, completed in 1567. Invading armies could defeat the wall by knocking this section out from its foundation.
We begin our walk along the Gubeikou Great Wall.
The group from The Hutong.
Here you can see where the “new” addition (450 years old) has crumbled away.
Simon points out a cross-section of the wall.
Here you can see the multiple layers of bricks that were used to reinforce the sides of the wall, along with the sediment in the middle.
Simon found this snake skin. He has seen more snakes on this section than anywhere else on the wall.
In the 20th century, Chinese soldiers made these holes in the wall to act as turrets, from which they could snipe Japanese troops invading from the north.
Here's a demonstration of how the troops used these holes. They would've gotten a great view of the valley below.
One of the guard towers.
Looking over the wall from inside a guard tower.
If you look carefully, you'll find bricks like this one, carved with the name of the guard tower's creator, as well as the date it was created.
Looking straight up through the guard tower.
Some of the guard towers offer you a panoramic view of the beautiful mountainous landscape.
Nearing the end of our hike.
The downside of choosing not to restore this section is that it is slowly falling apart. This bit, for example, is hanging by a thread.
The wall is quite tall in some places. And no guardrails here.
This is a fairly easy hike, more adventurous than taking the cable car up to Mutianyu, but not as difficult as Jiankou. And very few tourists come here.
Want more photos? Click for more photos from this trip to Gubeikou.