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Hello: Gubeikou to Jinshanling

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  • Hello: Gubeikou to Jinshanling

    Hi, everyone. I'm planning to hike from Gubeikou to Jinshanling the last week of December 2016. I will be sure to give a report on whatever I find. My plan is to catch the 6 a.m. bus from Beijing to Miyun and the first No. 25 after that to Gubeikou, and to catch the last bus from Jinshanling back to Beijing. Any pointers, other than, obviously, to dress warm and bring plenty of water?

  • #2
    Familiarize yourself with the general route of the military area bypass. Especially if snow is covering any of the marks painted on rocks you could take a wrong turn.

    Panlongshan Military Detour Advice

    Review: Gubeikou Panlongshan Great Wall Review
    Bryan

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    • #3
      Don't rely on a Camelbak for drinking because the hose will freeze.
      If you're tired of the Great Wall, you're tired of life.
      Journeys, &c

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      • #4
        Originally posted by bianfuxia View Post
        Don't rely on a Camelbak for drinking because the hose will freeze.
        Sounds like a lesson learned from personal experience.
        Bryan

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        • #5
          Thanks for the pointers, Bryan and bianfuxia.
          I will post after the hike to let you know how it went.

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          • #6
            What an extraordinary experience! My first Great Wall adventure did not go according to plan but exceeded my expectations; I have never seen or done anything remotely like my New Year's Eve day hike from Gubeikou to Jinshanling.

            The 6 a.m. 980 express bus from Beijing Donzhimen station to Miyun couldn't handle all the people waiting to get on. The next bus pulled out of the station by 6:15. About an hour and a half later it reached its terminus in Miyun. I had planned to take the 25 bus to Gubeikou, but I gave in (too) quickly when a guy offered me a ride for 150 rmb (I probably could have bargained to 100, but I was tired and don't naturally bargain). He dropped me off shortly before 9 a.m. at Gubeikou. I knew enough to not have him drop me off on the west side of the road at the portion of the Wall visited by most people who get droppeded off at Gubeikou; he turned right off the main road and dropped me off at the start of a trail that heads to the Wall from the east side of town south of the Wall (on the Great W'all Forum map, it's where the yellow line makes a right angle turn to the north). The trail disappeared on me when I was near the Wall, and I managed to scramble up to the Wall and hike along it, but my advice if you're going to do this hike is to (1) get dropped off further north than I did, near where the Wall crosses the road, and (2) walk along the southern side of the north-of-the-wall community and approach the Wall from the north. The reason is that the first quarter-mile I hiked along the Wall was the most difficult/dangerous, even though it was also rewarding/beautiful.


            The Wall just east of Gubeikou is sometimes no more than a narrow ridge, and getting up to this part of the Wall can be an adventure..


            This is the view looking back beyond the town of Gubeikou.

            I was more than an hour into my hike by the time I saw anyone else. It was a ticket-taker along with two other people and a dog.They had just taken a path up to the Wall and were headed toward Gubeikou. The views were extraordinary, and to be so utterly alone amidst it all felt very-un-China-like and made the Wall seem even grander and bigger than it would otherwise have been..I am posting a lot of pictures, but looking at them reminds me of how inadequately they reflect the experience they are supposed to depict.



            Before the military detour, there's a place where you have to detour briefly alongside the wall, but it's a brief detour and well-marked, as seen in the photo below.


            The start of the brief detour.








            This is after the detour. The path goes along this stretch, which was fortunately not too icy.


            Note the red dot, a sign that this is the trail. A red X marked no-go areas.



            There was snow on the shady (north) side of the Wall, but the path along the Wall was mostly free from ice, or at least there was enough dirt to get a foothold. I was in running shoes, which worked fine. But when I had to descend to avoid the military area, the path became icy, and I was fortunate to avoid slipping and falling. So be careful if you do this hike in winter.



            The trail down from the Wall around the military area.

            Unfortunately, although I had printed the maps, I did not have a GPS, and the snow made it impossible for me to see the dots that show the trail (as referenced in other posts). For awhile, that wasn't a problem, as I'm pretty sure I stuck to the path for at least a half-hour or so, where I saw this sign:



            I followed a well-trodden path through the snow only to lose the path. I had visions of slipping and twisting an ankle (or worse) and not being discovered for days, so I retraced my steps and took a safer but incorrect path in hope that I could reconnect with the correct path later. Eventually, I figured that wasn't going to happen, and shortly after I passed through a small gathering of houses I walked up to a woman and showed her my map in hope of finding directions. I spoke no Chinese, and she spoke no English, so we didn't get very far. But a guy driving a little vehicle stopped. He spoke no English, either, but he figured out where I was trying to wind up and gestured the direction, which was the way I had been headed but a long way around. I started walking, but he offered to give me a ride. That's how I wound up in Jinshanling. I'm guessing in the direction we went it would have taken me almost a couple of hours of walking, so I clearly got very lucky and was very grateful. I stupidly failed to take a picture of my benefactor; I did thank him, one of the few things I can do in Chinese, although not all that well.

            From the Jinshanling Great Wall entrance, heading back toward Gubeikou, I soon reached where I would have gotten back to the Wall had I not lost the path. So I didn't miss any of the Wall.



            Looking toward the military area from Jinshanling Great Wall. Note the barbed wire on the right and atop the tower in the foreground.

            I planned to take a bus back to Beijing, but I got a ride from a man I met on the Jinshanling Great Wall who, amazingly enough, used to live about a mile from where I live in Mountain View, California. If you're planning to catch a bus, be aware that the last bus is at 4 p.m., according to the woman at the Jinshanling Wall tourist office, and the road along which that bus travels is not all that close to the Jinshanling Great Wall.

            I have other photos of Jinshanling Great Wall, but I think this post may already be too long.

            Thanks to Bryan and the previous posters to this forum, who were a terrific resource. December 31, 2016 is a day I will never forget.

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            • #7
              I will add one more photo, from Jinshanling Great Wall, showing me.

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              • #8
                Great report and a great hike, good for you! Glad you had such a good time (I would have written great time but I was starting to sound like Nixon after his '72 visit to the wall!).

                Looks like the weather was good to you, too.

                Thanks for writing back and posting your pics - not everyone does so.

                Let us know whether you've been bitten by the Great Wall bug & when you schedule your next adventure.
                If you're tired of the Great Wall, you're tired of life.
                Journeys, &c

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                • #9
                  Thanks, bianfuxia. I've definitely been bitten by the Great Wall bug but don't know when I'll get back. I'll definitely keep reading this Forum, though, so I can get ideas for next time and so I can share in others' adventures.

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