Edit on Mar 16, 2015. Original post on Oct 2nd, 2008.
Must be due to the popularity of my original post :-), this section of the Great Wall has become more popular. For unknown reasons, the official has blocked the path from JinShanLing to SiMaTai. They have also “repaired” many part of the wall, at least for the SiMaTai section. The works include a newly made “water town” that imitates southern China scenery.
This is really a sad development. Yet another nice natural beauty ruined by commercialization. Sigh…
I hiked this section of the Great Wall just 4 months ago. No doubt it is the most challenging and enjoyable part of the Great Wall near Beijing. The views are spectacular, the breezes are soothing, the stairs are punishing, and the walls hide the thousand-year old secrets. This time, I hiked with two youngsters: my daughters. I wondered, the night before, if my regular 2-mile jogs can match their lightness and youthful regenerative speed. An old man will go distance spending a days with his daughters. I am the one with experience and wisdom. Right? Alright, experience.
Even I was here just 4 months ago, it is still breathtaking. We took the cable car up (100rmb for entrance and cable car) and turned left to start. There are 30 guard towers until the end. Since this wall is somewhat wild (what Beijingers call when the wall is not fully renovated), you see crumbled ruins everywhere. And that’s a great attraction. It feels real.
Half-way, we need to purchase the ticket to the SiMaTai section, another 40rmb. When we reached tower #20, we stopped for lunch. Hey, it is only noon. We started at 9:40. This means we can finish by 1pm. Wow! Speed!
The Wall literally ended at a river. We need to cross via a suspension bridge. That’s 5rmb toll again. By this time, my legs were pretty weak and I was down to the last half bottle of water. I pointed to the zip-line and told them that’s how we will get down. “Really!” They were scared and excited.
The last part of the wall is the hardest. There are probably less than 50 steps, but your will-power was all depleted. Can I just take a nap on this step, please?
40rmb, again, for the zip-line. They fit you with a harness and told you to “sit down.” All of the sudden you are suspended half-way nowhere, looking down about 150 meters into the water, zipping down without any control of your fate what-so-ever. I felt elated! Wind blowing through my hair and I felt like doing a SuperMan pose. The ride was over way, way too quickly. But the last drop of adrenaline was then spent. Fatigue overcame me. I fell soundly asleep the instant car rolled out the parking lot.
4 months ago, it took me 6 hours. This time, with the young and light, we did it in 3. Not bad, old man.