For our seventh annual Christmas hike and BBQ we headed out to Huairou to do the Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall hike. While cold, the weather was crisp and clear, and we enjoyed amazing views all day.
After hiking, we headed to our favourite restaurant in the Mutianyu area for our Christmas lunch and drinks.
Our Christmas day concluded with a dumpling-making competition. After several dumpling-making techniques were demonstrated by the restaurant chef, contestants got into it, vying for prizes in two award categories - Most Dumplings, and Most Beautiful Dumpling. Congratulations to the winners, who each walked away with a copy of Hiking Around Beijing, a bottle of wine, and vouchers for a free hike!
Statistics: 3.5 hours of walking over approx. 8km. Start height 600m, finish height 318m, highest point 1,044m (The tower on Ox-Horn Ridge). Total climbing up approx. 580m, total climbing down approx. 980m.
Air temperatures between 0°C and -10°C. Estimated 1,313kCal burned.
Dumplings made to win the Most Dumplings prize: 37 (around one every 16 seconds!).
To begin the hike we walked up a long valley. After a while, towers of the Jiankou Great Wall came into view on a narrow ridge.
From atop the "General's Tower" on this side of the valley, we could see the Great Wall running along the ridges of Jiankou and off into the distance.
The "General's Tower" is about 1,010m above sea level - quite a climb from the valley below. After a break for snacks, water, and a lot of photography, we headed on towards Mutianyu.
The Jiankou Great Wall runs along the west, south, and east sides of a wide valley. This tower is on the eastern side; In the background of this photo, you can see a thin stretch of wall on the western side.
This photo shows a section of Great Wall called "Ox-Horn Ridge." It's a lot steeper than it looks, especially on the way down the other side.
In this photo, we can see both sides of the Ox-Horn Ridge loop, the General's Tower, and off in the distance, the western side of Jiankou.
Continuing towards Mutianyu, we followed a trail through bushes growing on top of the Great Wall.
The Mutianyu Great Wall is a well-known tourist section, but on this visit there was hardly anyone about. These ladies were selling drinks and snacks, and having a bit of fun by dressing up as soldiers.
After hiking, it was time for our Christmas lunch: barbecued meat and vegetables, lots of tasty Chinese dishes, plus beer and wine!
When lunch was finished, it was time for the dumpling-making contest! First, a dumpling-making demonstration from the chef.
The contest begins!
Contestants had ten minutes, with prizes awarded for 'Most Dumplings' and 'Most Beautiful Dumplings.'
The winners! On the left, Abby, creator of the 'Most Beautiful Dumplings.' On the right, Feng Zhen - with 37 dumplings, the winner by a mile! The prizes: wine, free hikes, and a copy of the new edition of 'Hiking Around Beijing.'