The Big West section of the Jiankou Great Wall is a relatively easy walk. The trail going up through woods to the Wall was gentle, with short, steep parts on the Wall itself. Once we passed the highest part, the climbing down was not too difficult.
It was both lucky and unlucky for the group. Lucky as it was the first snow Beijing has had for the cold season and without a doubt, the last one, which produced beautiful views and clean wet air (so rare in Beijing); unlucky as the snow made the path so much more slippery.
As we drove up into the mountains, the road became whiter and whiter. When we reached the paved path, where we were met by our local guide, the whole world was in white.
We had thought there wouldn’t be any snow for Beijing for this winter, and technically there wasn’t—winter has ended already. It was a joyful surprise.
We started the hike on the paved road but soon turned onto a dirt path going up the hill. The climbing was gentle and our traces were quickly covered by the snow keeping falling out of the grey sky. However, it wasn’t cold and the air was perfect.
In about an hour, we reached the Wall. We got onto a tower and took our first break to take in the views. The snow silently accompanied us. This section of Wall is part of the Jiankou Great Wall, a section which is well known for being dangerous with rough and slippery ascents and descents. It is a physical challenge for hikers. But this hike we avoided the highest towers and walked on relatively flat sections.
There were still two steep but short parts. On a dry day, it would have been easier but with the snow, the rock surface looked rather slippery. In fact, it was less so than it looked. But to be safe, we still cautiously sat down on each step when we went down a steep tower. While in the woods walking on hardly noticeable path, we suddenly found the tree branches ever so helpful.
The walk down from the Wall was also pleasant. The snow stopped. The woods smelled of fresh spring. You heard the sound of leaves and snow under your feet. We even felt regret when the path suddenly opened up and we saw our bus waiting not far ahead.