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Badaling to Shanhaiguan Hike this summer

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  • Badaling to Shanhaiguan Hike this summer

    Hi friends,
    I am planning to hike the Wall from Badaling to Shanhaiguan. I will spend few months in China before, studying Chinese, and before heading home I want to see the wall. I chose Badalig-Shanhaiguan part because I've read it is the best preserved one and the views are amazing. I will be starting late May, and hope to finish by the end of June.
    Few questions to more experienced Great Wall hikers:
    1. How long do you estmate the hike would take? Supposing I walk around 30km/day. Are there any maps of this part of the wall, with the names of towns/villages I will pass by?
    2. Is it possible to resupply everyday? In the most remote parts of the Wall, how far from civilization will I be?
    3. Any advice on sleeping on the Wall? Should I take a tent if I want to sleep somewhere in the towers, or is sleeping bag enough?
    4. What kind of wheather should I expect in May-June season?

    Thank you!

  • #2
    Oh, I meant Badaling, of course!

    Comment


    • #3
      I've hiked almost the whole wall between Badaling and Jiangjunguan which is maybe 10 per cent of what you want to do. Much of the wall between there and Shanhaiguan is similar.

      Based on my experience you should reconsider your plans.

      1. 30km a day is just about impossible. 10-15 is much more realistic and even that is hard going in places.
      2. It will be HOT. Like, 35C+
      3. No maps.
      4. No need for a tent.
      5. Resupply is possible most days but bear in mind that in many cases villages are AT LEAST several kilometers from the wall. So if you need water you can plan on adding a 2-3 km there and 2-3km back trip onto your day's walk.

      Our forum member Chinoook is presently on the section between here and Shanhaiguan - he's been hard at it every day for 3 weeks and has a support team (ie a driver who meets him at access points he has to bash his way down to).

      Wait until he gets back and can offer you some further guidance.
      If you're tired of the Great Wall, you're tired of life.
      Journeys, &c

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      • #4
        Wow, thank you so much! I will definitely contact him.

        Do you know where I can find some detaield maps of this area?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Ula View Post
          Do you know where I can find some detaield maps of this area?
          Great Wall Guide for Android

          Maps and Mapping

          A good place to start.

          I'm curious why you picked Badaling for a starting point.
          Bryan

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks Bryan, I will study the maps in detail.
            Why Badaling? Well, I knew I wanted to reach "the end" of the Wall (to be truly a man, in the words of Chairman Mao) and I was deciding between the western end and Shanhaiguan. From what I've read, the Ming dynasty wall is the most complete and well preserved, which allowes for continuous hiking. Also the climate would be more bearable than closer to the desert. Another factor is that I found more maps of this part of the Wall, and of the sections around Beijing.
            So what I wanted to have was a continuous hike (or as continuous as possible) on the Wall, with opportunities to go down to villages and towns to resupply and observe the lives of people. Duration: 2-3 weeks. Badaling was easy to pick.
            However, if you have any other suggestions I would really appreciate if you could share your ideas and tips!

            Comment


            • #7
              I think your plan of hiking to Shanhaiguan is good, assuming you are up for the difficulty and risk. But have a look at the map of the wall in the Beijing area, below. If you start at Badaling, you will be following an early Ming wall to the Jiankou area. This wall is less continuous than it appears on the map. Once you reach Jiankou, you will proceed to the east, missing a lot of the Huairou District wall to the west. An alternative would be to start around Lougquanyu, allowing you to cover more of the Huairou wall. If you only have a few weeks and you really want to have a chance of reaching Shanhaiguan without resorting to road walking, I would start closer to the goal. Like at Huangyaguan or at least Gubeikou. Just some thoughts. Any way would be a great experience, and a real challenge.

              Bryan

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              • #8
                Good point Bryan. It makes a lot more sense to start at Longquanyu. Getting from Badaling eastwards actually is very difficult because - despite what the trace shows - there is essentially no wall there at all. It would take a week probably just to get to Longquanyu from there. For example, the other day it took me & a buddy 90 minutes to climb a hillside (no path) just to reach the wall. The ground distance was under 2km. Obviously progress is faster than that (usually) on the wall, but for long sections between wall stretches you would need to deal with this kind of terrain, or drive around it (and think about how you are going to organise that).

                But you should also know that getting from Qinglongxia to Gubeikou cross country would also take several weeks. The wall is not as continuous along there as the red line makes it look. It can't be emphasised enough how tough the scrub and steep mountainsides are. The same is true for the majority of the red line on the Beijing-East Hebei border. You will definitely need road transport between, say, Heiguancun and Qiangzilu. And south of Qiangzilu the wall is gone again until around Jiangjunguan. You should download the forum trace, if you haven't already, and spend some time carefully examining it.

                Another point of interest is that Mao said 不到长城非好汉 which does not really mean what it's normally translated as: You're not a true man until you've climbed the GW". Unless I am mistaken, it came from the Long March and what it more accurately means is "if we don't reach the Great Wall, we're not good Chinese/men". They were, of course, heading from the south to the north, where the GW lies. Practically no-one, Chinese or foreign, bothers to translate it properly! That's my view of it anyway. I'm not that great at Chinese.
                If you're tired of the Great Wall, you're tired of life.
                Journeys, &c

                Comment


                • #9
                  by the way I spoke with Chinoook yesterday at Shanhaiguan and he said they didn't average more than 10km per day out there. They walked from somewhere NE of Beijing along the wall down to Shanhaiguan, 30 days straight.

                  That should give you a good sense of how unrealistic it is to try to get from Beijing itself to Shanhaiguan in anything less than 6-8 weeks.
                  If you're tired of the Great Wall, you're tired of life.
                  Journeys, &c

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Bryan and Bianfuxia, thank you so much for your valuable imputs! I will definitely review my plans and start more careful planning.

                    Btw, Bryan, the map you posted, where does it come from? I have problems accessing any maps of the Wall on my computer, I would be really grateful for any advice how I can download them.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Ula View Post
                      Btw, Bryan, the map you posted, where does it come from? I have problems accessing any maps of the Wall on my computer, I would be really grateful for any advice how I can download them.
                      It's from Official Great Wall Forum maps

                      Bryan

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        For the entire walk you need at least 2 month. I would never do it later than May. Just too hot and close to impossible. You by far underestimate the difficulties. It took me two years under much better conditions than yours. I also doubt you will find the way by yourself. At many places.


                        -chinoook
                        chinoook's 1st law: Structurally weak walls tend to have double structures.
                        chinoook's 2nd law: Newer walls are built next older walls, not over them.
                        chinoook's 3rd law: Similar problems lead to similar solutions.

                        The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of people, who have not viewed the world. (Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), German naturalist and explorer)

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                        • #13
                          Hi everyone! So I reviewed my ideas, and my current plan is to start from Gubeikou towards Shanghaiguan in more or less 3 weeks. I will walk around 10-15km/day, if I have spare time I will spend it reading about the Wall or just talking to people. I will have around 4 weeks on the Wall, it's ok if I don't walk all the sections that I planned. I just wanted to ask for some last pieces of advice for my final preparation: Do you think I would be able to find a place to sleep (cheap hotel,someone's courtyard) every day, or should I be ready to spend a night on my own somewhere on the Wall? What products would you recommend for snacks/food supply?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            You mean, in three or four weeks you will start your hike from Gubeikou headed towards Shanhaiguan? That is, you will be hiking in late June, early July? Enjoy the heat. It's already 30C here. Your problem won't be food or shelter, it will be water. If you want to hike 10 to 15 km per day, which is reasonable in some areas and wildly unrealistic in others, over that terrain in that heat (like 35+ all day long with no shade), you will want at least six liters of water per day during the day, plus whatever you want to drink in the evening. One or two days with less might be ok but if you're continuing like that for a month you will quickly get dehydrated before you encounter any other problems (which from what I know of that route is also inevitable).

                            In many villages you'll be able to find somewhere to eat, sleep, and resupply. But bear in mind that the wall can easily be 5km from the nearest village, and they can be a difficult, steep, overgrown 5km if you haven't planned carefully. So you will need to factor that into your daily planned distance. It isn't always easy just to drop down into a village and chug a beer or two. You should therefore be prepared to spend the night on the wall but in summer all you really need is a light sleeping bag. You don't need a tent as long as you plan your walk so you can sleep in a tower (not always possible). Ironically a tower will keep you dry but is the worst place to be in a thunderstorm (lightning risk). So some kind of waterproof bivvy bag is a good idea too.

                            Take a look at the Google Earth imagery of the wall and you'll see what I mean.

                            Last of all, it's not simply a matter of getting on the wall and following it. Although that works fine in many areas and you can go a long way with that technique, in other places you do actually have to know how to navigate and have some actual plan about how you find the next section of wall and how you get there.

                            Good luck but please don't underestimate what you are proposing. Four straight weeks hiking the GW in the height of summer is not a task to be undertaken lightly.
                            If you're tired of the Great Wall, you're tired of life.
                            Journeys, &c

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by bianfuxia View Post
                              Good luck but please don't underestimate what you are proposing. Four straight weeks hiking the GW in the height of summer is not a task to be undertaken lightly.
                              He's right, of course. And you've picked possibly the most challenging starting point imaginable for an eastbound hike. Starting at Simatai you'll have many formidable obstacles. Take a look at Simatai to Bailingguan for just one example. And that's after you have passed the Heavenly Ladder and Sky Bridge at Simatai.
                              Bryan

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