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Jiankou Great Wall (箭扣长城), hiker/expat hot spot

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发表于 2015-3-25 14:51:55 | 只看该作者 |只看大图 回帖奖励 |倒序浏览 |阅读模式
In 2011, Robert met his new customer Mr. Mark Griffith, an American from Seattle, USA.??
One day, Mark told Robert he would like to do Jiankou Great Wall hiking. Mark wears glass as well as beard,that left Robert an impression that he is more a scholar than a hiker. Also Robert was told by his colleague Benny who had led a group of young colleage students doing Jiankou hiking that Jiankou is quiet a challenge, or in another words, dangerous. So Robert looked online and find some reports concerning Jiankou Great Wall hiking resulting life losing.??

Mr. Mark Griffith answered Robert with no words, yet with his photos on Yahoo flicker, which shows so many hikes that he had done in different countires. One picture worths 1000 words. That is right.??Robert was persuaded by Mark professional hiking skill.

Then Robert began to make car and driver arrangment for Mr. Mark Griffith, for all the different sections of Great Wall in and around Beijing. Gradually Robert interest began to grow when he learned that Mark managed find his way in the dense corn field
Robert was curious how Mark managed find his way. Later Robert learned from Mark such gardget like MotionX-GPS app, and many other hiking knowledge. However, all these experiences had not push Robert to go hike yet until one day one customer asked Robert if Robert himself had ever done the hike. Robert was so much embarress to tell the customer that Robert DID NOT do the hike yet.
This customer was introduced to Robert by Mark after he read Mark Griffith blog and would like to do a similar trip. Then Mark recommended them to use Robert Car Rental.
Robert could not affort to lose his own face as well as Mark who had been helping Robert with his referal and positive comments on Robert.
It was then a must for Robert to go and do the hike himself. Robert asked to join Mark Griffth weekly hike.
For the first time, Robert met Mark at Park avenue at 16:00pm on Friday after his week work. Mark colleagues drove another car and we met at Jiankou. We bought our village entrance ticket when we drove through the village gate. After parking our car at Zhao's hostel parking lot, we soon start our hiking. It is quiet a challenge with steep and slippery mountain zigzag roading leading to the wall. Mark, his 7 year old son, Miles and I formed a group and hiked up towards the wall. We successfully got on the wall before it really grow dark. Mark's camp oven is a great help for us to get hot water and cook us a different dinner.


http://bit.ly/jiankoumap Jiankou Great Wall map produced by Mr. Mark Griffith with all the information.??

Camping at the Great Wall is now a to be or not to be question.
Cons: an exciting or very unusual experience
Pros: a bold, risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome
We’ve been in Beijing for three months and while I been lucky enough to get out for a couple of hikes on the Great Wall I hadn’t been camping for around 6 months, the longest time in many years.??The period leading up to the move was extremely busy and things hadn’t let up much since our arrival; in fact this past week had been my busiest since getting here. Several nights I didn’t get to sleep until 2 am.
My plan for several months was to get out camping with the family as we had a three day holiday weekend. I had brought a huge bag of camping gear and had enough to outfit everyone.??Leading up to this weekend things weren’t working out with my plans. Stac’s arm still wasn’t feeling well and my attempts at recon feel apart.??My one hiking partner here in Beijing from work was busy and out of town.??But I was determined to get out camping with at least Miles and me.
Amid the busy work I had been searching for where to go and even looking for a guide. There are many websites offering tours of the Great Wall, but most of these are cattle cars that take bus loads to BaDaLing and then take you to see jade and tea shops where you get sales pitches.??There is a Beijing Hiking group but they only take guided day trips.??There are even several sites that offer to guide you camping at the Great Wall. One I contacted looked interesting but everyone was out of town.??Another informed me that the Wall was closed to camping but through connections with a villiage near the wall he could take our family for 4500 rmb ($700 US).??We’ll skip that.
They say knowledge is power and in the circumstance of unfamiliarity its difficult to decide where and when to go. With limited time I made the decision to go to Jiankou, based on my hiking partner’s recommendation.??He gave me directions to the village of XiZhaZi. I had grand plans of doing more research but was so busy I ran out of time. I barely had time to pack Friday morning while on two con-calls with Seattle.??Given that this was the first time breaking out the gear I hadn’t found a source for fuel yet so this would be a “cold” camp.??I packed some bread, some peanut butter, jelly and honey.

Camping on the Great Wall and the destination Jiankou both are controversial subjects.??The Wall has been designated by Unesco as a World Heritage Site; however the wall is over 4000 miles long and there are only a very few places that have official government presence (BaDaLing is one of these).??Villages along the Wall profit from tourism that brings visitors and funds.??Unrestored sections of the wall are called “wild” and there are government regulations that imply these sections of the Wall are closed.??Jiankou is renowned for amazing scenery and its steep and precipitous geography.??There have been several people killed there from lightening strikes and falling to there death.??The Wall at Jiankou is supposedly closed and I’d been told conflicting stories about camping.??I was unsure what we were getting ourselves into but that was part of the adventure to be.
[Robert]: When Mark emailed me his hike plan to JianKou, I worried and was not so confident on his ability and skill on doing such kind of adventure. Yet he was my expat customer and I can not say NO to my cutomer. So my strategy is sending him a China Daily report link concerning the lightening killing tragedy on Jiankou, Mark did not feedback with words, he sent me photos of his many previous hikes at many different locations in the world.Photos says a lot more than words and tell me that he is professional level hiker. Mark's late hikes on the freezingly cold winter time on the Wall and find his way leading to GuBeiKou in the tall corn field proved that my judgement is correct. In fact, it was Mark who inspired me to join him and learn how to hike in a foreign enviroment. It does not mean that everybody can do the same as Mr. Mark Griffith.
After a full day of meetings, Mr Wang picked me up with Miles from work at 3pm and we headed north east out of Beijing. I found the village on my iPhone and made sure we took the right turn offs. As we began winding along the narrow road the mountains rose above us. Along the way we passed many mountain retreats with hotels and restaurants. Eventually we took a sharp left on basically a single lane road and we pulled up in front of the gate of XiZhaZi. The ladies at the guard house were fascinated with Miles who hid shyly from them. Several months prior I’d emailed Robert a small hotel, Zhao’s Hostel at XiZhaZi and Mr Wang inquired the location and we headed up the road.??Right at the roads end on a small hill sits the hostel.??There is a courtyard, a couple of squatter toilets and a half a dozen rooms.??Mr. and Mrs Zhao were very friendly.??I called Robert from their land line (my cell had no service) and he chatted with Mrs. Zhao’s daughter who said it was no problem to guide us to the Wall to camp.??Mr Wang elected to stay behind in the hostel for the night.
[Robert]: Driver Wang works for Robert. In fact, the most convenient and easy way for ones driver to know exactly the location of XiZaiZi is to give a phone to Zhao's hostel and talk to Zhao Chunlin, the daughter of this hotel owner. Zhao Chunling is a Jack of all trades, she works as a chef good at local village style food, driver with good knowledge of every turns on the mountain road and being a fast driver, guide with experience working for foreigner and professional photographers.
Mark provided a very important information here: Cell phone has no service. One can not wholely rely on his/her mobile because the signal is broken from time to time.
Another thing Robert need to points out here is that there are two points for visitors to do the hiking. One is the one from Zhao's hostel, while another start point is from the trout fishery farm(虹鳟鱼养殖基地)which is more challenging.??

As we past the field we walked past a large big blue sign that announced this section of the Wall was unrestored and was closed to the public.??I asked her about this and she said that because the local village had “guanxi” (connections) that it was no problem.??The fact that I paid her 80 rmb to lead us to the wall, and their livelihood depended on visitors probably also explained a great deal.? ?After a 40 minute hike we arrived to the top of the wall where a large tower had many places we could camp and several fire pits.??Miles and I opted to carry on; we headed??east another 10 minutes over a crumbled tower to a small rise in the Wall on the flat top of the ridge.??We dropped our packs and scrambled back down to see if there were any more towers.??The next tower had no flat ground and beyond that we could see the Stairway to Heaven section (straight up) and so we returned to the ridge.
[Robert]: It is good that if one can know someone local. Before one goes there, one get call the local and get the updated information.
For instance, during the APEC Beijing in Oct. 2014 which was held in Huairou area, those Great Wall sections, i.e. Mutianyu, JianKou, HuangHuaCheng and Lakeside Great Wall??in the same area were closed for a few days. It will be good to call and check. Also when the visitors have difficulites or problem, it is the quickest way to get help from local. As mentioned by Mark, that is the connection.


As we hiked up the valley to the Wall a local dog joined us.??I asked our guide its name, and she said she wasn’t sure what it was called but that it loved people.??The dog stayed with us and Miles and he played while I set up our tent on the flat tiles of the Wall.??The weather was mostly foggy and we’d been lucky to not have any rain.??Just after I finished pitching the tent the, suddely the white fog turned pink from a setting sun unseen behind the haze.??The entire experience was surreal.??Here we sat upon the wall built hundreds of years earlier by 1000s of forced laborers.??We climbed through towers with holes in the ground for passage ways, and along the top of the wall where the ramparts crumbled at the touch and trees and shrubberies filled the lane.??Great piles of bricks lay in heaps where the mortar had loosened and fallen by gravities pull.

Having passed the tower and the other fire pits, Miles and I decided to build a fire near our tent.??We climbed over the wall and gathered a bunch of dead brush.??We scraped out spot in the dirt where the bricks were missing and gathered many of the bricks to pile a circle of stones.? ?We lit our fire and enjoyed the light and warmth on a cool night at the end of April.??
The next day before we left we’d removed all the ash and scatter it over the cliff on the other side of the wall; rearranged the bricks in a scattered fashion and filled in dirt in the pit.??Leave no trace we left none.??(Reading later on the Great Wall Forum its generally frowned upon lighting fires because it can weaken the already crumbling bricks and mortar; we’ll be better on future visits).
[Robert]: Mark and his son collect all the rubbish for every trips that he did on JianKou.

We climbed into our tent and made up our sandwiches for dinner. I always load my iPhone with movies before we take trips and Miles and I watched a few minutes of Goonies before we turned off the lights and snuggled down in our bags for the night.??My alarm went off at 5am the next morning to catch the sunrise.? ?I unzipped the tent to blowing fog, completely socked in we couldn’t even see the next tower.??Our friend the dog had slept outside all night and greeted us with wagging tail.

We decided to go on a short hike that morning and left camp around 6 am.??We headed back towards the Staircase to Heaven.??The Wall here is almost straight up and narrows to a width less than 4 feet.??You can reach your hands out and touch either side.??This section requires concentration as you inch your way up one step at a time.??At the top we rested for a bit and hiked for a few more minutes until we came to another very steep section where the steps had crumbled and there was just the sheer face of the rock cliff.??We opted to stop here and return to camp.
As we relaxed back at our tent a group of 4 Chinese guys climbed up from the west.??They said they’d been hiking since MuTianYu.??They were waiting for a friend who they must have left behind as they kept calling his name.??The wind really began to pick up and I wandered down the wall a bit to take photos of the fog blowing across the ridge line.??Upon my return the hiking group said it was too far to return to MuTianYu and asked how they could exit the wall. I gave them directions and then with the weather turning cold from the blowing wind we broke camp and headed down.
Back at Zhao’s hostel we found Mr. Wang waiting. Miles and I were hungry so we ordered some noodles and egg fried rice.??This took foreever cause Mrs Zhao had to make a huge pot of rice up before they could stir fry it.??Eventually we got our food and wolfed it down.??Joining Mr. Wang at the car we settled in for our return drive of 2 hours to Beijing.??I was definitely in love with Jiankou and we’ll be back to see the Zhao’s and to explore more of this gorgeous section of Beijing.

https://www.google.com/maps/d/vi ... ZuwD4M.kBYzW0Tve1OI

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?楼主| 发表于 2015-4-11 22:47:21 | 只看该作者
Benny, my colleague, had visited JianKou many times either with big student group or individual visitor. This is Benny latest trip to JianKou.




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?楼主| 发表于 2015-4-16 16:45:49 | 只看该作者
Mark Griffith really love Great Wall hiking. He hiked all the different sections of wild Great Wall in and around Beijing within 1 year at different season. Though I myself also did all of these section of Great Wall in my 10 years working time, yet it seems my hikes remain at a superfacial level. Mark is a hike expert, professional photographer, and publishable travel articles author. By working and supporting Mark trips to all the different sections of Great Wall, I had a deep understanding of travelling and inspired my interest to join Mark hike.

Mark is surely knowledgable enough to write a travel book concerning all the Great Wall for expat and visitors.
He knows by his personal travel experience at different time and different season with his proffessional gardgets.
Here is Mark's map (for illustration, because when your turn it to terrace, the actual position is not correct.)
http://bit.ly/jiankoumap
It is very very difficult to traverse the entire length of the Wall in Jiankou area. In fact, some people risk their lives to do that and approved that some part is NOT doable.??In fact, when I did the hike with Mark and some of his home country friends, I realized that Mark breaks it down into parts. One walks towards the Wall, turn left, that is easy and safe part. And we did that park with one aged (70 years of age, yet very fit gentleman).??
We also did one walk through from Mutianyu to ZhengBeiLou, Jiankou on April 12, 2011.
I drove Mark and one of his friend (Robert is 38, Mark and his friend are around 40, and very fit) to Mutianyu for the hike. We left at 1pm from Beijing downtown and arrived at Mutianyu at 14:00pm.
We arrived at MuTianYu, took the cable car (orange, enclosed one), left one as your
facing the wall. There are two calbe car companies at Mutianyu, one cable car have enclosed carriage and another company have open carriage. After getting off the orange cable car, we walked up about 30 miutes before we reached the end of Mutianyu part. Then we began to hike on the un-restored wall all the way
to all the way to ZhengBeiLou.??On our way to ZhengBeiLou, we met tow oversea your ladies, walking with sticks in their hand towards Mutianyu. Obviouse, they came from Jiankou to Mutianyu. That was the only person that we met during the hike.
When we arrived at Jiankou and get off the Wall and then come to the asphalt roads, it was almost 17:00pm and it grew dark.
After I called Zhao Chunling for a ride back to Mutianyu for our own car. After receiving my call, Zhao came really quick and equally quick, she took us back to Mutianyu Great Wall parking lot. She was a really fast driver in her super minivan. The parking lot attentant had finished a whole day work and no body there for collection of the parking fee. It was dark already.
We drove to Fish Master(鱼师傅)for our dinner. Mark ordered a peanut with chicken(宫保鸡丁), a tomato with fired egg (西红柿炒鸡蛋)and one fried sweet broad pea (清炒荷兰豆).
It seems that chicken and pea are more popular than tomato.
Also I learned from Mark some American restaurant culture. Few American will not push their waiter to get their orders served quick while it is not offensive at all for Chinese to ask and check their order.
Chinese get used to JD.com lighening fast delivery service therefore we easily lost our patience in a restaurant. Just a joke.
In fact, it is a big culture difference.
When we finshed dinner at Fish Master it is around 19:00pm.
We finished this whole trip until 21:00pm when we arrived at downtown.

Solid footing/handholds is a must.
Good luck!



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?楼主| 发表于 2015-5-16 21:54:15 | 只看该作者
May 13th, Wed. Hike by Jer... American, strong and skillful, professional level hiker.Get into the village Jerry started from Er Dui (二队,即虎子家) i.e. 3 hours hike startpoint.
Mutianyu is on the west 3 hours hike is the second arrow from left. It takes one hour from the foot of mountain for one to arrive at the Wall, while it takes only 30mintes if one start from Zhao hotel. However, it will take 6hours if one walk from Zhao hotel.

Get in village from this point and turn left towars Er Dui (二队,即虎子家)


See the sign with three red charactors (虎子家)


Find the correct starting point leading to the narrow foot path is not so easy. The best idea is to ask a local to avoid dead end.

This is the road leading to the starting point electric pole.


The way at the foot of the mountain.


The old man told us Jerry driver Zhang which road leading to the Wall and which one is dead end.


Come to the electric pole with three white Chinese charactors on a borad, saying 正北楼. That is the sign showing the correct starting point to get to the Wall.




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?楼主| 发表于 2015-12-14 11:02:09 | 只看该作者
We went and go to Jiankou regularly thus become friends with locals.
Here we share some photos taken local ZHAO Chunling who experience the daily change at Jiankou Great Wall better than any visitors.
The photos record start from 2013 to 2015








2013 July 4 rain bow at Jiankou.JPG (54.64 KB, 下载次数: 6)

2013 July 4 rain bow at Jiankou.JPG

2013 June 24,at Dusk.JPG (30.22 KB, 下载次数: 8)

2013 June 24,at Dusk.JPG

2013 Oct. 9 Jiankou Autumn.JPG (126.21 KB, 下载次数: 6)

2013 Oct. 9 Jiankou Autumn.JPG

2014 June 10 dusk.PNG (457.27 KB, 下载次数: 5)

2014 June 10 dusk.PNG

2015 April 2 Snow grows heavier.JPG (120.61 KB, 下载次数: 6)

2015 April 2 Snow grows heavier.JPG

2015 August 8 making fritters 3.JPG (124.07 KB, 下载次数: 6)

2015 August 8 making fritters 3.JPG

2015 Dec. 2 Jiankou's after snow beauty.JPG (179.48 KB, 下载次数: 6)

2015 Dec. 2 Jiankou's after snow beauty.JPG

2015 June 5 Jiankou after rain.JPG (32.53 KB, 下载次数: 5)

2015 June 5 Jiankou after rain.JPG

2015 Nov. 15 Sun comes out after days of frog and rime.JPG (86.06 KB, 下载次数: 6)

2015 Nov. 15 Sun comes out after days of frog and rime.JPG

2015 Nov. 19 Rime comes back.JPG (285.47 KB, 下载次数: 5)

2015 Nov. 19 Rime comes back.JPG

2015 Nov. 24 Jiankou beauty.JPG (76.76 KB, 下载次数: 6)

2015 Nov. 24 Jiankou beauty.JPG

2015 Oct. 12 Jiankou afternoon and leaves change color.JPG (74.15 KB, 下载次数: 5)

2015 Oct. 12 Jiankou afternoon and leaves change color.JPG

2015 Sep. 1 gourd at Jiankou.JPG (145.74 KB, 下载次数: 6)

2015 Sep. 1 gourd at Jiankou.JPG

2015 Sep. 17 Mushroom at Jiankou 3.JPG (91.19 KB, 下载次数: 5)

2015 Sep. 17 Mushroom at Jiankou 3.JPG

2015 Sep. 22 rainbow after rain at Jiankou.JPG (33.47 KB, 下载次数: 6)

2015 Sep. 22 rainbow after rain at Jiankou.JPG

2015 Sep. 22 rainbow at Jiankou.JPG (28.23 KB, 下载次数: 7)

2015 Sep. 22 rainbow at Jiankou.JPG

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?楼主| 发表于 2015-12-25 14:16:17 | 只看该作者
Though Beijing downtown is once more badly polluted, Jiankou is a lot better than the city.

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?楼主| 发表于 2016-1-7 10:45:03 | 只看该作者
Winter time is morally low season for tourist industry. However, it is also the time for Chinese to observe lunar new year! Lots of CHINESE is already planning their spring festival holiday. Zhao is making Doufu at her home. Even 20 years ago only big family with large members make Doufu at home. It was lot of fun to watch the whole process when I was little kid. Zhao home is at village and has lots of relatives and friend. Homemade Doufu is a good gift!

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?楼主| 发表于 2016-1-7 10:45:39 | 只看该作者
robert 发表于 2015-12-25 14:16
Though Beijing downtown is once more badly polluted, Jiankou is a lot better than the city.

Zhao making Doufu



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?楼主| 发表于 2016-1-10 12:22:03 | 只看该作者
9:00am on Jan. 10, 2016 clear sky at Jiankou by ZHAO Chunling

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?楼主| 发表于 2016-3-23 17:43:25 | 只看该作者
Jiankou map provided by customer

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