Hiking the Great Wall

For some reason, seeing the Great Wall was never on my bucket list. I always appreciated it but never felt a strong desire to see it in person. If you’re at all like me, change your mind and put it on your bucket list. Right now.

I was already in China visiting my friend who works at NYU Shanghai and so, being that close, visiting the Great Wall was a must-do. I took a bullet train from Shanghai to Beijing and spent two nights at the Beijing Downtown Backpackers Accommodation. I’m often skeptical about tours as I’m usually stubborn about being independent and blending in as much as possible. However, given my subpar navigational skills and difficulties with the language barrier, as well as the great deal offered through my hostel, I opted to join a group of about 30 people on a trip to the Wall.

We were told we were going to a less-touristy section (three hours outside of the city), but given China’s population and the popularity of the Great Wall for locals and tourists alike, I figured “less touristy” meant “crowded, but not packed in like sardines.” Instead, our bus and one mini-van were the only vehicles in the parking lot, allowing us to essentially have the Wall to ourselves. Although we all started off together, we had the opportunity to go at our own pace and so as people started taking breaks at different times I quickly had the span of a tower or two on either side of me entirely to myself.

Coming from Colorado, this stretch of the Wall was particularly spectacular as it reminded me of standing on top of a 14er, gazing out at endless layers of mountains fading into the horizon. Sitting at the tallest tower and taking in the beautiful scenery is absolutely unparalleled and something that everyone should experience in their lifetime.

My pictures don’t do the trip justice, but hopefully they will provide a glimpse of the magic of the Wall and inspire a few of you to see it for yourselves. You won’t regret it.