This first part of this hike follows a trail that connects two villages. Most trails like this are disappearing because people have stopped walking them: villagers are starting to heat their houses with gas rather than firewood collected in the hills, and they’re now able to use cars or public transport to get to the next village instead of having to walk over the mountains.
Following a trail out the back of the first village, we’ll hike up a big hill to an almost-800 metre peak. Our starting point is at around 300 metres above sea level, so this is a pretty good climb. Your breathtaking climb will be rewarded with breathtaking views.
In these hills it’s said there were gold mines, and some sections of our trail were made for the donkeys that serviced the mines. We don’t expect to see donkeys in the hills, but we’ve seen the tracks of wild pigs. Hopefully we don’t run into any of those!
We’ll skirt around the tallest peak in the area, and then head down through terraced chestnut orchards to get to the second village, a tiny settlement of around 10 houses linked to a larger village by a concrete road.
The concrete road takes us to down to the largest village in the area, and at the back of that village is a narrow path that runs up through orchards to join a recently repaired section of Great Wall.
We'll follow the wall up to a nearby peak—a climb that is fairly steep, with some big steps. We'll end up on a flatter ridgeline, with great views of the wall and valleys below. A short walk will take us to our bus, and we'll drive a short distance to a nice lookout spot where we'll set up our Beijing Hikers post-hike picnic for you.
Interesting: One of the first times we did the High Rise hike we got chatting to one of the old ladies in the first village after noticing her tiny feet. It turned out that when she was seven her mother had bound her feet, a painful process, following the fashion of the time (which would have been the 1920s). Apparently, without bound feet, she would have found it difficult to find a husband.