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.
Spring turned to Fall and the Fall turned into Winter. There was no word from her husband, so Lady Meng Jiang began to fear the worst. Since her husband had left in Spring, he had no winter clothing. This brought forth an idea: she could check on her husband by journeying to the work site with his winter clothing.
So that’s what Lady Meng Jiang did. The entire way, her soul was filled with dread. It was not like her husband to stay out of contact for so long. He was a strong leader who worked with his men. He was trusted and knowledgeable.
When she arrived at the Great Wall, her husband was nowhere to be found. No one would make eye contact with her at all. Eventually one brave soul came forward and explained that the Wall had collapsed on her husband one day and that he had died. Lady Meng Jiang, there on the wall, wept bitter tears that she had been saving for more than a season.
The bitterness of her tears did a strange thing: they degraded the Great Wall with their power. As the tears splashed around, the Wall began to crumple once again.
Our Itinerary- Jiankou-Mutianyu
The day starts at 7:30 AM for breakfast in the hotel. After a hearty meal, we head over to the Jiankou section of the Great Wall and continue to hike along the striking and rugged terrain. Along the way we expect to encounter some watchtowers that have fallen into a state of disrepair. It is an interesting contrast compared with the restored section we expect to see later at Mutainyu.
Although Mutainyu has received a face-lift, it avoids the army of tourists that plague Badaling. Mutianyu offers some breathtaking views of the valley and wall below, so excitement is building within my chest about the day’s events. This should be a fantastic day!
Mutainyu is easily one of the best preserved sections of the Great Wall, even if you don’t take the restoration efforts into consideration. It was the northern barrier that helped to defend the capital and it was stronger than other sections because it also needed to defend the Imperial tombs.
It is believed that the Mutainyu section was built around the 6th century, which would make it older than the Badaling portion of the Wall. The present construction began during the Ming Dynasty, however, and a pass was placed into this section in the 15th century. After degrading for more than a century, the wall was again rebuilt late in the 16th century and much of it still exists today.
It has been said that Mutianyu is one of the largest and highest quality sections of the Great Wall. My excitement to see this portion of one of humanity’s greatest accomplishments courses through my veins!
- Day 3 was short a hike of about 4 hours.
- We started from the Jiankou section to Mutianyu.
- We were first taken up a hilly and rugged terrain to another section of Jiankou
- We saw 2 different sides of the Great Wall from the unrestored ruins at Jiankou to the better restored sections at Mutianyu
- Level of difficulty – From Moderate to an Easy leisure hike
- Weather – Clear 16 Deg
- Duration – 4hrs 44mins
- Type of terrain – jungle path, hilly valley.
We started the hike enjoying the scenic of the countryside that Beijing has to offer. There were harvested corns on the left. The idea of seeing 22 watchtowers in a section of the wall that is about 2,000 metres in length is exciting! Yet there is still tremendous beauty in the simplicity of scenes like this as well.
The path to start our hike up to the Jiankou section was narrow. The fog had returned somewhat, but it was more of a haze than a blanket, which made it the perfect window for pictures. Day 3 was turning out to be a perfect day!
Before we reached the wall, there was some serious elevation that needed to be climbed! It was some tough terrain to overcome. This took some of us by surprise as it was not stated in the itinerary and it took us 55 minutes before we reached the starting point for Day 3 at the Great Wall on the Jiankou section.
The Jiankou section is famed for its ruins and unrestored state. We were not too surprised to see more of this, similar to Day 2’s hike.
Even though these old portions of the wall seem worn and torn by the ravages of time, there is still grace and beauty as they stand up, tall and proud. These bricks leave a legacy for those who have left behind this wonder for us to enjoy.
The contrast from the unrestored sections of the Great Wall is incredible. The attention to detail is absolutely fantastic and there is plenty of room to move above freely. It may be part of the tourist attraction, but to see this wonder in the way that it was intended over 4 centuries ago is truly breathtaking.
The forest coverage rate along this section of the Great Wall is around 90%, which means there is green for as far as the eye can see. The need for this barrier during the ancient times becomes apparent when you see this view in person.
One of the most unique aspects of this section of the Great Wall is the inclusion of merlons. These were places where defenders on the wall could actually shoot from protected vantage points from either side of the wall. That meant they could continue defending even if there was a breach… or they could stop a rebellion that was attempting to get out.
We got lucky today as we did not need to trek downhill at the end of the hike today. We decided to go for the toboggan ride, which was fast and thrilling. I couldn’t help but smile at the constant reminders from attendants with their loudspeakers not to take photographs on the way down!
Today’s hike was relatively easy and short as we had to rush back to our guesthouse to prepare ourselves for what would be the highlight of our trip – Camping at the Great Wall!
Follow our series on the Great Wall Hike 2014
Day 1 – The Great Wall of China Hike (HuangHuaCheng)
Day 2 – The Great Wall of China Hike (Jiankou)
Day 3 – The Great Wall of China Hike (Jiankou to Mutianyu) – currently reading
Day 4 – The Great Wall of China Hike (Gubeikou to Jinshanling)
Day 5 – The Great Wall of China Hike (Jinshanling to West Simatai)
See the video we have created from the images we captured during this journey