The hike starts near a reservoir, which is marked by 2 sections of Great Wall which rise dramatically on each side. We start our hike on a well restored steep section which gains altitude fast, soon giving us a good view of the reservoir down below at the start of the hike as well as the section of Great Wall that runs along the ridges on the opposite side of the valley.
After reaching a high point, we started down a section of unrestored wall, where we had to be careful to watch our footing on the narrow stairs. This brought us down to the valley that leads to the town of Zhuangdaokou, which is the start of one of our easier hikes.
After a short break, we started uphill again to access another ridge. This ridge gradually curved toward a set of rugged hills in the distance. Some of the nearby hilltops have isolated Ming dynasty watchtowers on them. We had lunch within view of some of these ancient towers before proceeding along the Great Wall.
Later, after we reached a high point overlooking Little West Lake, from whence we could proceed no farther as that part of the Great Wall was too steep and broken down to descend. We relaxed and savored the views before backtracking a short distance and following a winding path down the hillside and through an orchard before ending our hike in a village.
In spite of the extremely dry winter, the hillsides are now have many beautiful flowering fruit trees in bloom.
The reservoir and the section of the Great Wall on the opposite side of the valley that we start from as viewed from the top of the first uphill section of the hike.
A fairly level section near the top of the first climb provides a nice break.
Beautiful (but disappointingly smelly) white blossoms. When the wind blows, they fall gently like snow.
Our descent into the next valley; later we continued up the other side.
The rooftops of well preserved towers make a great place from which to take photos.
The most common color for fruit tree blossoms are pink and white; in this area, there are cherry, peach, and apricot trees.
Almost everywhere we could see orchards growing on steep terraces below.
A dilapidated tower on an unrestored part of the wall. Most of the sections we walked on that day hadn’t been renovated in many years.
We took a lunch break on a high section of wall with trees in bloom all around and great views of the nearby hills.
These beautiful, delicate purple flowers were seen in several places along the path.
Group members taking a break before continuing the hike.
We savored the eagle eye views of Little West Lake from this point at the top of the wall, but this was as far as we would go that day; this part of the Wall was in too poor condition to be safe.
Another view of the steep descent to Little West Lake; instead, we backtracked a short distance and took a gentle descent along hillsides and through orchards.
Across terraces with orchards, the Great Wall stretches on forever…