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The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

25+ photos from our hike on the Big West section of the Jiankou Great Wall up in Huairou District, when Beijing welcomed its first snow.

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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.

Photos below!

We started off on the paved path leading to the forest - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

We started off on the paved path leading to the forest.

Side path up the slope to villagers’ homes - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

Side path up the slope to villagers’ homes.

Who wouldn’t like a walk on cotton candy? - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

Who wouldn’t like a walk on cotton candy?

Snow covered the dried creek bed - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

Snow covered the dried creek bed.

Adding white outlines to nature’s shapes - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

Adding white outlines to nature’s shapes.

Thick layer of untouched snow on these rocks - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

Thick layer of untouched snow on these rocks.

Pines were the only green - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

Pines were the only green.

The narrow dirt path into the mountains - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

The narrow dirt path into the mountains.

Winding and hiding path - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

Winding and hiding path.

Dry grass looking fresh with the damp air - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

Dry grass looking fresh with the damp air.

Dry leaves laden with spring snow - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

Dry leaves laden with spring snow.

We didn’t take this path and it was still early, so the snow cover was intact - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

We didn’t take this path and it was still early, so the snow cover was intact.

Walking deeper into the woods - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

Walking deeper into the woods.

Snow covers an abandoned wall - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

Snow covers an abandoned wall.

A bed of leaves below the snow - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

A bed of leaves below the snow.

We got on the Wall and took our first break - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

We got on the Wall and took our first break.

The mist was rising - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

The mist was rising.

Looking untouched but we actually came down this path - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

Looking untouched but we actually came down this path.

Following others’ steps to figure out where the path was - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

Following others’ steps to figure out where the path was.

Always go to nature with bright color outfit - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

Always go to nature with bright color outfit.

Reaching our first steep Wall section - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

Reaching our first steep Wall section.

With backdrop of mist, the Wall looked mysterious and ancient - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

With backdrop of mist, the Wall looked mysterious and ancient.

We went around a tower - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

We went around a tower.

The mist flowing in the valley - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

The mist flowing in the valley.

Safer to sit down to negotiate this section - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

Safer to sit down to negotiate this section.

We also kept our distance in consideration of safety - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

We also kept our distance in consideration of safety.

Made it! - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

Made it!

Going around another tower - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

Going around another tower.

The ancient stones tell a story - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

The ancient stones tell a story.

It started to get easier from here - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

It started to get easier from here.

The crouching dragon protecting the people - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

The crouching dragon protecting the people.

Like a hand, the unknown flower holding scoops of snow - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

Like a hand, the unknown flower holding scoops of snow.

The view you get when you hike high up - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

The view you get when you hike high up.

Someone left food for Wall climbers - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

Someone left food for Wall climbers.

The yellow of the tree trunks was quite special - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

The yellow of the tree trunks was quite special.

More scoops of snow on the way downhill - The Big West Wall in White, 2018/03/17

More scoops of snow on the way downhill.

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