Way back at the end of the Ming Dynasty, Li Zicheng, the ‘Dashing King’ and leader of a peasant rebellion, broke through the Great Wall at an obscure pass in the mountains just west of the Badaling Great Wall. He went on through the mountains with his army to Beijing, besieged it, and proclaimed himself Emperor of the new Shun Dynasty. You may not have heard of the Shun Dynasty, and fair enough – it didn’t last very long, with the Qing beating them out pretty swiftly. But that’s another story entirely.
The pass where the Peasant King broke through is still obscure, reached by doing a U-turn out of one of those long tunnels that go under the mountains and then driving up to the end of a narrow road.
It’s now known as the Badaling Ancient Great Wall, and it has all been repaired and fixed up.
But most visitors here just take a look at the lower two towers and head back, as the Great Wall here gets rather steep.
What we’ll do for this hike is keep going up, and up, and then over and down, then up and over another hill … all the way to Stone Valley Village.
The views are superb the whole way—to the north, a broad plain lies below mountains; to the south, more mountains and maybe a glimpse of Beijing city; to the east, the Badaling Great Wall runs through the hills to a high peak; and to the west, more Great Wall running along ridges.
The exercise is also superb! For almost all the hike you’re either climbing up or climbing down, and it gets quite steep. And once you get over the first mountain and down the other side, there’s a smaller hill to go up and over, and we’ll see some unrepaired Great Wall here before hiking down to the finish.