By mrbill on Jul 29, 2009
My compatriot, Dr. Blumenthal and I took a stroll of sorts. We coerced a local taxi driver to take us to the Mu Tian section of the Great Wall. The Badaling section of the wall is more popular with tourists, and closer to central Beijing, but I had heard great things about Mu Tian, so away we went. The taxi for about 6 hours and 180 km ran us about $100 or so. Not a bad deal.
This was the "before" view, looking over toward the non-restored "no trespassing" section to the west. The top of the next hill is the beginning of "no man's land". You can climb the mountain to get to this point, but we decided (and rightly so) to take the gondola to the outlook platform. If you look closely, you can see evidence of the gondola line creeping up the hillside off in the distance.
This is the mid-point of our hike, give or take a kilometer. These outpost buildings are scattered every kilometer or so, with neat features like ramps worn down to steps by 1000 years of footsteps, and little downward sloped holes in the wall to shoot Mongolian hordes through. There is even an "upstairs" section with places to attack the "downstairs" in case the outpost gets overrun. Yes, that is a HUGE uphill section ahead.
Now facing east, and way off in the distance is the ski lift that we were planning on taking down. Yes, there are alot of steps and hills between here and there. At this point, your legs are already burning, and you really need a break. This is a good time to start re-thinking your decision to walk from gondola to ski lift, but either direction involves ALOT of uphill climbing. Notice the canon in the lower left hand side of the picture. Remember that the Chinese invented gunpowder, much to the surprise of the Mongol hordes.
Once we made it to the ski lift (and noticed the very cool luge sled section to get down as well), we discovered that our return ticket was for the gondola only. There is a separate ticket for the ski lift, available at the bottom of the mountain. Yeah, so walk back to the gondola? No way. It turns out that you can purchase a one-way ticket for the lift or the luge at the upper station. Thank goodness. I was not above bribing my way down the hill!! My legs were so tired that I talked Dr. Brad into taking the last trip up the station steps to buy the tickets alone. I just couldn't do another uphill climb!