The Great Wall of China Hike 金秋漫步 – A Return to Jinshanling

12109018_10153604768018232_3273700768203459918_n

There was a mixed feeling in the air. The thought of leaving the Great Wall was much like the thought of saying goodbye to a close friend. There was sadness in the thought of leaving, but hope in the thought of being able to come back to see this historical masterpiece again at some point in the future.

It was the final day of our Great Wall adventures. The camaraderie in our camp had reached its pinnacle when we gathered together the night before to celebrate mid-autumn.  The full moon was the biggest, closest, and brightest supermoon in 12 years. The experience of that evening is something that I will treasure forever. [Read more…]

The Great Wall of China Hike 金秋漫步 – Dongjiakou, Huangyaguan and the Heavenly Steps

WP_20150926_17_37_09_Raw__highres

Many people look up to the sky for inspiration. The heavens provide so much beauty for us that we often ignore because we see it every day. Moments that expose us to our own history change our perspectives as they speak to our very soul, reminding us of the beauty that is constantly surrounding us in its own way.

This is what the Great Wall offered to me during this part of the journey. It would be an offer that I would readily accept. [Read more…]

The Great Wall of China Hike 金秋漫步 – From JiaoShan to SanDaoGuan

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe second day of the Great Wall hike started out with an early and filling breakfast to get us prepared  for the journey ahead of us. With an eager and positive feeling that this day was going to be a fantastic day for a journey along the Great Wall, our team was ready to hit the road and begin in on the adventure.

Day 2 was expected to be a much longer trek than the one we started out with on Day 1. We were informed that it would take about 6 hours of hiking at an average of 500 meters above sea level for a total distance of 6 to 7 kilometers to complete the adventure. It would start at Jiaoshan and journey through until the ending destination of Sandoguan.

Excited to get started, the next 6 hours looked to have the potential to be life-changing in numerous ways.

[Read more…]

The Great Wall of China Hike 金秋漫步 – Laolongtou (Old Dragon’s Head)

share_t (1)

The 2nd season of the Great Wall of China hike began with an early morning wake-up call in Beijing and getting prepared to make the 4.5-hour drive to Hebei. After the epic adventure we had in our visit in 2014, I  was eager to let all the fun begin! This year we had a total of 23 participants. A quick stop for lunch at a local Chinese restaurant was both delicious and perfect as it held us for the rest of the trip to our tour of the Shanghaiguan Great Wall Museum.

[Read more…]

Why Everyone Should Hike the Great Wall of China At Least Once in Their Lives

WP_20140927_12_03_35_Raw-1024x576

Some do it as a challenge whilst others just want to walk in the footsteps of history. Hiking along the Great Wall of China is one of the world’s most iconic walks and passes magnificent scenery as well as a glimpse into Chinese culture. Here’s why everyone should walk the Great Wall of China at least once in their lives.   [Read more…]

The Great Wall of China Hike – Jinshanling (The Conclusion)

20140927-WP_20140927_09_37_24_Raw__highres

Stone and Brick outlast even the finest structures built simply with wood and earth. As we travel along life’s journey think about things in your life currently that needs to be re-established. Though it may take time to restructure and rebuild things, but remember, even the Great Wall of China must be maintained.
~ Travelled Paths ~

The air is cold. Not brutally cold where your breath turns into a cloud of ice fog when it escapes, but still cold enough that you are inspired to keep moving in order to stay warm. There’s a freshness to the cold air that is unique. It is sweet.

As the fog begins to roll in, one adventurer sits by himself along the Great Wall. The moon is rising and his spirits are conflicted. Some of his thoughts are directed at home. He’s missing his family, wishing that they were here to experience the majesty of this moment with him. He’s also incredibly moved by how nature is moving around him. In this one instant, the flow of energy in everything around him and through him has made itself known.

The adventurer has discovered the world. The world, it seems, has discovered him as well.

In these quiet, chilly moments, an epiphany is found. Life has become so busy that the perfect moments in life have become ordinary moments. Instead of the joy of a sunrise, the focus has been on the potential stressful events of the coming day. Instead of the magic of a child’s laughter, the focus has been on the failures of everyone around him.

The adventurer sighs heavily. It isn’t a painful burden on his soul, but it is a heavy one. As the moon shines down against the coming fog, a vow is made. Many have stood to fight for their homeland on the Great Wall over the century. The adventurer will do the same, but not for the horizons that surround him now.

No. The adventurer vows that he will be the change that the world is asking him to be. A slight smile finds its way to his lips. It’s time to find a blanket.
[Read more…]

The Great Wall of China Hike – From Gubeiko to Jinshanling (Day 4)

20140926-20140926_063343To access the warrior that is within, one needs to first submit to the idea that he is in fact a warrior. Break down any thoughts that tell you otherwise.
~ Travelled Paths ~

The year is 1933. Young officer Li rolled up the last of his tobacco leaves and lit up his new creation with a match. He breathes in deeply, a satisfied breath, and then exhales the smoke together with a deep sigh. His soul is plagued with feelings of of longing… or is that regret? 

He takes another deep breath, letting the smoky goodness fill his lungs. He nods to no one in particular. Yes – there is definitely some regret there. 

It wasn’t that long ago when there was peace across the land. It was just one year ago, in fact, that he was still a farmer boy playing in the  cornfield of his father’s vast land. Today he is part of the 626th Regiment of the Northeastern Army. His job sounds simple, but is far from it. He is guarding Shanhaiguan from the Imperial Japanese Army in the north. 

War is about to come to Li. Earlier this morning, word filtered down that the envoy from the Japanese 8th Division had already made its demands for the 626th Regiment to evacuate from their location on the Great Wall.  

The smoky goodness suddenly tastes bitter at the thought of the upcoming battle. Li hands the half smoked cigarette to one of his comrades. “Today we fight on this Great Wall to defend our motherland,” he says. “Who knows? Maybe in 50 years, this piece of wall we will fight on today will become a place of peace once again.” 

He pauses. The time of battle is close. He readies his weapon. “Will they remember our names then?” [Read more…]

The Great Wall of China Hike – From Jiankou to Mutianyu (Day 3)

20140926-WP_20140926_10_34_56_Raw

The first parts of the Great Wall of China were built over 2000 years ago.  At that time it was constructed using stone, wood and compacted earth. Yet as the time changed, the resources used to build changed as well. The compacted earth used was soon replaced with brick. Even as it applies to life in the modern world of today we desire the stability that the stronger resources offer.
~ Travelled Paths ~

Lady Meng Jiang stood resolute as she received the news. Her husband had been pressed into service once again. He had no choice but to follow the Emperor’s decree and begin working on the Great Wall. Flashes of the life she had been expecting to have went through her mind and she tried to deny the words she was hearing, but it was to no avail. Her husband was leaving to build a wall.

She knew that she should take pride in the fact that her husband had been called upon because of his skills. He was a great leader and could motivate men to do many things. She worried though. She worried because the Emperor was not a kind man. He wanted things done a certain way and she feared that her husband’s leadership style would not sit well with others. [Read more…]

The Great Wall of China Hike – Jiankou (Day 2)

20140924-WP_20140924_10_31_44_Raw__highres
Even the longest structure to ever be built by mankind started the very same way as the smallest, with meticulous planning and execution.
Foundation is the key to every success in life.
~ Travelled Paths ~

The Ming general stands proudly at the podium of his fortress as he makes his final inspection of his warriors. There are 5000 of them, who fought side by side with him throughout the years, and he has known them all by names and called them brothers. His eyes meet the eyes of his trusted aide, Tan Lun, who has battled with him against the Japanese pirates in the battle of Fujian.

They understood each other’s inner thoughts. They have to rely and call upon this band of brothers yet again for one more battle, this time against the Mongols from the north, and this time in Jizhou.

The autumn wind is especially chilly this night. General Qi Jiguang gives his final rally call to the troops and returns to his tent. The imperial convoy has been waiting at the sides for some time now, waiting for General Qi to return and convey the imperial edict from the Emperor. It would be his next assignment – to oversee the construction of the of the fortress wall for another 1000 watch towers.
[Read more…]

The Great Wall of China Hike – Huang Hua Cheng (Day 1)

20140923-WP_20140923_10_47_30_Raw__highres

Ponder for a moment the vastness of its size and marvel its rich history and glory. With every inch it took planning, it took struggle, and it took ambition. Look down at your feet as you travel on the manifestation of dreams for ages to come.
~ Travelled Paths ~

Ying Zheng ponders up and down the chambers of his palace bedroom. The distant sound of the fourth geng strike can be heard, but he can’t get back to sleep. The sudden chirp of crickets had startled him. In the confines of his bedroom, without the presence of his bodyguards and concubines, he can finally shrug of the heavy load of being Shihuang-ti for the day and to become whom he really is – an insecure person. 

No one would blame him for being insecure. After the exile of his stepfather and the many attempted assassinations by his enemies, life has become a struggle. He also has a great reason to fear because he has just eliminated six rival states to finally unite China for the first time under the supreme rule of the Qin dynasty.

Thoughts of a pending threat from the north has put him through sleepless nights, wondering when will the next wave of attack will come. 

The Autumn moon is shining brightly tonight. Ying Zhen opens the window and is greeted by a bright display of yellow flowers in the courtyard. Inspiration comes to him and he retreats back to his study. A wry smile comes to his face as he pens what turns out to be A Fortress of 10 Thousand Li.
[Read more…]