While we are no strangers to the Big Camp Plate area, we usually make it a loop hike. On this trip we tried out a new trail down from the top, finishing with a long walk out a wild valley to finish near Hengling Village.
The weather was near perfect on this trip: clear skies, almost perfect weather, and a nice breeze to top it all off.
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Getting ready to hit the trail.
Great views looking back.
The concrete road leads to Big Camp Plate village, which is encircled by old Great Wall.
The wall overlooks the villages far below.
Terraced fields near the Big Camp Plate village.
A couple of farm houses just outside the village.
About to enter the village.
Nuts drying in the sun.
A dirt road marks the back end of the village.
Stopping to enjoy the view, with Guanting Reservoir seen far below.
The wall marks the boundary of the farming area for Big Camp Plate. Beyond the wall are sheer cliffs. And all that smog in the distance is seeping down from Zhangjiakou, where some of the events will be held during the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The campsite we use for overnight hikes lies at the end of the dirt road.
The rough dirt road leads out through fields.
Crabapple trees in grassy fields by the wall.
We hiked up towards the wall, heading for the spot we use for camping.
This stretch of wall has great views of the valley.
We stopped here for a break. It's a good lookout point.
Instead of following the wall we hiked down into a narrow valley.
Water used to flow through here. There were still a few pools from recent rain.
Wild boar tracks!
The valley trail was overgrown – not a lot of people come this way anymore.
The valley trail took us towards one of the main features in the wall here: the 'Water Pass'.
The Water Pass tunnel.
Hikers coming up from the Water Pass to get back on to the wall.
The trail continues up the wall, but first …
Lunch time! Great spot for it
Checking out a nearby part of the Water Pass fortifications. The rubble is the base of a tower that would have allowed long views down the valley.
Another feature of the wall in the area—a barrier wall in front of the main line.
Everybody has a seat with a view.
After lunch we took on the steep climb to the top of the Big Camp Plate section.
A broken watchtower that we will have to get around.
Looking back down the trail.
Super views back towards the Guanting Reservoir.
If you look hard enough you can see the village we walked through earlier on the hike. The peaks of Dahaituo Mountain are visible way in the background.
The top section of Big Camp Plate.
Looking back from the top.
Turtleshell patterns in the rocks used to build the wall.
We'd hike out down this valley to finish the walk.
The path down the valley is an old donkey trail.
Some more wildflowers, but this time in blue.
A relatively clear section of the valley trail.
Further down the valley we passed orchards. That meant we were getting close to the end of the trail.
We mentioned ‘near perfect’ weather. These dark clouds came out of nowhere and sent down a few drops of rain.