We made our Moss Mountain hike a little longer by starting at Zhuangdaokou instead of walking right up to the Walled Village. Hiking a bit further was the right choice on this day, because the weather was perfect.
We started out with the easy climb up to the big arch in the Great Wall at Zhuangdaokou, and then headed on through fields to the Walled Village.
After a quick look about the Walled Village we hiked on over towards Moss Mountain, following farmer’s roads and field trails up into a forest.
Just before the forest is an old quarry, where we stopped for a lunch break. Nearby the quarry is a mysterious set of stairs, which we’d always been curious about. Where do they lead? On this visit we had time to take a look. Spoiler alert: at the top of the stairs are more stairs. But then there’s a path that leads over a hill to a house, supposedly inhabited by a ‘rich family’. Well, that’s what the locals told us.
We headed into the forest, aiming for a landmark in the middle – a huge old pine tree with a little shack next to it.
From the pine tree we made the last major climb of the day, crossing a ridge and getting into the back hills of a countryside park area.
On the way down into the park we made a detour to check out a waterfall. We hadn’t been up to the waterfall for quite a few years, and were wondering if there was any water up there after the heavy rains of summer 2016. There wasn’t any water, but there was quite a lot of ice. If we’d been a month earlier we might have seen the ice covering the whole cliff face. As it was, most of the ice was in a big pile at the foot of the cliff.
After the waterfall detour it was a relatively quick walk to the park entrance, passing more rocks and boulders on the way.
The arch in the Great Wall at Zhuangdaokou.
Great Wall on the ridgeline above the Walled Village.
We stopped for a look at the Walled Village, and had a quick chat to Old Mr Gao and his buddy.
Heading up towards the quarry and into a ‘Natural Scenic Area’, according to the carvings on the rock.
In the middle of this photo is a squirrel – see it?
The ‘magic rock’ – locals say that a little bit of gravel from this rock mixed in with your milk is a fertility aid.
Hiking up towards the quarry.
Rocky outcrops on the ridgeline.
A huge boulder.
The Stairs to Nowhere.
A Buddha carved into a boulder. Over the years we’ve seen this boulder get smaller as blocks were chipped away. And then one day a Buddha appeared on it. We hope they leave it with the buddha.
A few of us ran up the stairs.
Good views far below.
Good views looking across the valley, too.
The pine and the little shack are hidden in the forest.
We stopped there for a break before setting out on the climb over the ridge.
The little shack, complete with a kang bed.
Up through the forest.
Crossing over the ridge.
Big cliffs on the other side.
We hiked up towards the waterfall, passing big blocks of ice.
The old waterfall.
Some ice near the waterfall.
Just before we took this photo a chunk of ice broke off and fell down. You can see where it fell from by comparing the previous photo of the same scene – up the top on the right side.
More ice below the waterfall. During winter, a small trickle of water can slowly freeze into big sheets of ice.
Carvings on a rock.
We hiked out on the park trails.
Looking back up.
More ice in the park. There’s a small spring in the hills here.