We almost named this hike “The Goat’s Trail” after the many herds of goats we saw while scouting the route. Along the way we will pick a path up a bouldery canyon, follow rivers, climb a steep valley, walk through grassy meadows, and see a village that was abandoned after a particularly large flood and is now being resettled.
We’ll start from the Bai Village in Miyun County, and follow a nearby river upstream. In the past this river must have been very powerful – the dry riverbed is wide in places, and there are a lot of big boulders and steep drops. A decent sized stream still runs down the middle of the riverbed, and it would be quite hard to follow our trail if the water level rose. There’s not much chance of that, though – Beijing is too dry these days!
After thirty to forty minutes of walking we will leave the river and head uphill on a valley trail. From here until the pass through the saddle at the top of the mountain we’ll be in prime goat-spotting territory, a popular place for the shepherds to bring their herds because of the thick grass and foliage in the valley.
The climb is quite steep in places, and we will stop for a rest a few times on the way up. The trail is well-shaded by all the leaves of the trees, but it gets bushy and humid in summer.
Once we reach the saddle we’ll head down the other side of the mountain to the Duijiahe Village. This side of the mountain is quite different to the other side – it’s not as bushy, and looks more like pasture. There are still plenty of goats on this side, as well as a very small quarry. Several unsplit boulders remain in the quarry and we can see on them evidence of the technique used to break off slabs for building walls and houses.
The trail through the pasture leads to the riverside village of Duijiahe. Duijiahe was a small settlement, and was abandoned after the flood destroyed the road. For a long while it was inhabited by just one man and his dogs.
Repairs to the road were made in 2010, and it’s now possible to drive a small van all the way up to the village. A much better state of affairs than before, when it was only possible to deliver supplies by donkey.
After a look around the village we’ll follow the river downstream to our finishing point. As we walk we’ll see evidence of the flood – washed-out roads and bridges, and eroded cliff sides. We’ll also be able to see Great Wall towers on the cliffs and ridges, including the Round Tower from one of our other hikes. There is also a cliff where we sometimes see people abseiling down a waterfall.