Gubeikou (古北口) fits the bill perfectly. It's one of the easier sections to hike, it typically draws few tourists, and the surrounding landscape is spectacular. It's only a few short hours from Beijing, so if the Great Wall is on your travel radar, Gubeikou is a great section to consider visiting.
Matthew Clausen and I recorded this podcast on a dark and breezy night, while sitting atop the Great Wall of China. We had just finished a long day of trekking on the wall, starting at the popular restored section of Mutianyu, and ending at “wild” Jiankou. We had a fantastic time reminiscing his week-long visit to Beijing, culminating in this outdoor adventure. We also discussed rock climbing, our views on what it means to travel, and much more.
Last week, the friendly folks at The Hutong invited me to return to Gubeikou (古北口, or “Ancient North Pass”), a section of the Great Wall of China about two hours northwest of Beijing. 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.
Having lived in Beijing for the last three years, Katie and I have visited the Great Wall many times. Contrary to popular belief, the Great Wall isn't one continuous wall. There are many sections; some have eroded to almost nothing, others remain relatively intact, and still others that have been completely restored to their former glory. My favorite sections (as you probably guessed) are un-restored, yet still hike-able.
2016: what the year! Though I spent most of 2016 in China, I did manage to travel to a few other countries. This blog entry, as well as the next two, will be a recap of where I went and what I did last year.
The world-famous Great Wall of China sees millions of visitors every year. The vast majority of tourists visit the restored sections, such as Badaling and Mutianyu. However, there are also many long stretches of the Great Wall that receive almost no visitors. During winter, it would be a rare occasion indeed to see another living soul in these parts.
The Great Wall is a highlight of any visit to China. What a lot of people don't know is that the wall doesn't exist in one continuous stretch. Instead, the Great Wall has many sections, some totally restored, others original. In many sections, you can walk for hours without seeing anyone. You can even camp on the wall. Beijing (my current home) is less than two hours from the wall, so I've had many chances to go, to different sections and in different seasons.