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Walk Down the Incense Trail hike, 2014/10/23

On this outing, we followed an ancient pilgrims’ trail over a high ridge and hiked down to the one of the oldest temples in Beijing. Click through to see the photos!

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We began the day’s hike with a climb through the forest that took approximately 40 minutes. Along the way, we passed through a pine forest that is a good place to hunt for mushrooms and medicinal herbs. We often see donkeys carrying loaded baskets in this area, a vestige of traditional village life.

At the top of a hill is a broad plateau where we stopped for lunch, and after a rest break, we started the descent to Dajue Temple. It’s quite a peaceful area, and on previous visits we have seen people meditating and playing flutes.

Dajue Temple was built in 1068 A.D., during the Liao Dynasty (916-1125 A.D.). Since then, it has been expanded, repaired, and renamed several times. The majority of the buildings on the grounds now date to the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1358-1644 A.D. and 1644-1911 A.D.). The temple complex is expansive, and contains much to explore - five major buildings – and huge, ancient trees are also found on the temple grounds, mainly old pines and cypresses.

Photos below!

Hawthorne trees with bright autumn foliage looked beautiful against the backdrop of the clear, blue sky - Walk Down the Incense Trail hike, 2014/10/23

Hawthorne trees with bright autumn foliage looked beautiful against the backdrop of the clear, blue sky.

The red and orange leaved trees grew in clusters that covered parts of the hillside - Walk Down the Incense Trail hike, 2014/10/23

The trees grew in clusters on terraces that covered parts of the hillside.

Our hikers enjoyed the beauty of the autumn colors - Walk Down the Incense Trail hike, 2014/10/23

A lovely day for a walk.

Much of the area consists of farmland, as one can see in the background of this photo - Walk Down the Incense Trail hike, 2014/10/23

Hiking up the old pilgrims' path.

Our views included hills and farmland in the background - Walk Down the Incense Trail hike, 2014/10/23

Our views included hills and farmland in the background.

We passed through an orchard of Hawthorne trees - Walk Down the Incense Trail hike, 2014/10/23

We passed through an orchard of Hawthorne trees.

A hiker pauses to enjoy the scenery - Walk Down the Incense Trail hike, 2014/10/23

A hiker pauses to enjoy the scenery.

Donkeys are still used as work animals in the area - Walk Down the Incense Trail hike, 2014/10/23

Donkeys are still used as work animals in the area.

This one, however, has seen the apple the photographer is holding in her hand and comes in for a closer look - Walk Down the Incense Trail hike, 2014/10/23

This one, however, has seen the apple the photographer is holding in her hand and comes in for a closer look.

And closer, and even closer … until the donkey photobombs the picture with a closeup! - Walk Down the Incense Trail hike, 2014/10/23

And closer, and even closer … give me that apple!

Some of the members of our group admire the animals before continuing their walk - Walk Down the Incense Trail hike, 2014/10/23

Saying hello to the donkeys.

 Much of the path is flat and gentle as it passes through the countryside - Walk Down the Incense Trail hike, 2014/10/23

Much of the path is flat and gentle as it passes through the countryside.

The forest was filled with brightly colored autumn leaves - Walk Down the Incense Trail hike, 2014/10/23

The forest was filled with brightly colored autumn leaves.

The chickens belong to the local fire warden, who lives a solitary life in the hut in the background - Walk Down the Incense Trail hike, 2014/10/23

The chickens belong to the local fire warden, who lives a solitary life in the hut in the background.

One of the buildings on the grounds of the Temple of Enlightenment - Walk Down the Incense Trail hike, 2014/10/23

One of the buildings on the grounds of the Temple of Enlightenment.

The leaves on this ancient ginko tree on the temple grounds had also started to change color - Walk Down the Incense Trail hike, 2014/10/23

The leaves on this ancient ginko tree on the temple grounds had also started to change color.

Some of the other trees at the temple had already turned golden yellow - Walk Down the Incense Trail hike, 2014/10/23

Some of the other trees at the temple had already turned golden yellow.

Some animals, such as cats and chickens, also inhabit the temple grounds - Walk Down the Incense Trail hike, 2014/10/23

Some animals, such as cats and chickens, also inhabit the temple grounds.

Feeding time for the resident cats! - Walk Down the Incense Trail hike, 2014/10/23

Feeding time for the resident cats!

Dajue Temple is home to more than a few cats - Walk Down the Incense Trail hike, 2014/10/23

More cats.