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.
The Dongjiakou section was built 620 years ago and still today remains one of the best-preserved sections of the Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty. After a 30 minute hike through the forested hilly terrain, we soon found ourselves at the Great Wall. We were blessed with good weather this morning. It was a clear blue sky and you could almost see this section of the Great Wall stretching on toward eternity.
There are a few notable watch towers which have a wealth of history behind them at this section of the wall. Xifu Lou was the first one we came by.
It was said that Wang Yueying, the wife of a guardsman, spotted invaders approaching the wall from afar. The invaders were planning to attack the Dongjiazhuang section of the wall. Because of her alertness and swift reporting to the authorities, the army was prepared and able to inflict heavy damage to the would-be invaders. Instead of accepting a generous reward from General Qi Xuguan, she asked that she and a group of army’s wives be allowed to help out in the construction of the wall.
Xifu Lou was one unique watch tower that was built entirely by these courageous women.
We also were fortunate to be blessed with the rare sight of the Cihou Tower, a solid command post with no actual roof, allowing for the defenders to enjoy a 360-degree view of the entire area. There are a total of 24 different observation holes (6 on each side) and unique architectural aspects that make it unlike any other historical site throughout the entire world.
Although the Dongjiakou Great Wall is over approximately 8.9 kilometers in length, it stretches for 3 kilometers of unbroken section, 1.8 kilometers of broken sections, and several parts in which there is a natural steep mountain without any wall at all.
Located within the Huangyaguan Great Wall and situated in the mountainous area of Ji County in Tianjin City, approximately 130 kilometers east of Beijing, lies Yellow Cliff Pass. This formation of rocks and cliffs is always a yellowish in appearance only at dusk, which explains its given name. This section stretches out over 2,152 meters and is combined with the Huangya Fortress, the water pass, watch towers, the frontier cities, Bagua Castle, and accompanies the military facilities of the area.
The Bagua Castle was built on the idea of Eight Diagrams, which originated from the ancient philosophies of the Book of Changes.
The beginning of the hike included a somewhat easier trek through the different sections of the Great Wall and offered several incredible sights to enjoy along the way. Going at a steady pace, we still managed to find the time to take a quick snap of the scenery ahead, giving us a moment of perfection that was unlike any that had come before on this trip.
There were gorgeous green trees making up a rich flora of the area and breathtaking views nearly everywhere I turned. Looking back on that day, it almost felt surreal in the moment being amongst so much natural beauty. I could imagine many following these same steps on this journey, finding their own inspiration in these moments of perfection.
I felt at peace.
A Journey Up To Heaven
We arrived at the bottom of what is commonly referred to as “Heaven’s Ladder” or “Heaven’s Staircase.” It is composed of 350 steps and although our legs got rather tired from the climb, the view from atop was absolutely worth it! This is the major scenic point of Huangyaguan Great Wall and it only took a moment to understand why these steps are climbed so often.
We continued on our journey, making our way through more of the area where we encountered interesting parts of the Great Wall, which were both restored and ancient. We followed traces of the monument for quite awhile until we reached a point where we descended down into a beautiful valley .The natural beauty that we found surrounding us in every direction made it the perfect stopping place for lunch before getting back up and making our way onward.
The end of this hike came to an end way too quickly where we all wished we could have spent even more time exploring and wandering about. We had a 2-hour bus journey to Gubeikou where our wishes were answered. Before dinner, we took a short sunset hike at the old Guibeiko watch tower (campsite for season 1) and later, celebrated mid-autumn festival with traditional lanterns and mooncakes.
Some moments seem so ordinary and we forget them all too often. We are inspired by the moments which seem to be so perfect to us, but even in the ordinary there is something extraordinary to be found. The Great Wall had many lessons to offer on this part of our journey. It was my privilege to listen to what it had to say.
Route for Day 3 and 4
Activities for Day 3 and 4 were recorded using the Fitbit Surge.
View my Fitbit Profile here
The Great Wall of China hike #gwc2015 was organised by TravelledPaths.com and supported by the Singapore Adventurous Nature Lovers’ meetup group. If you are interested in joining TravelledPaths’ organised meetups, please subscribe to our mailing list here
The Great Wall of China Hike Season 2