I returned to Jiankou for my fifth visit in October with Miles and some workmates John Rodgers and John Darrow, who were visiting from Seattle. We stayed at the Zhao’s Hostel and arose in the dark. We took the main concrete path past the parking lot heading south to the Wall just to the east of the TianTi / Heavenly Ladder.
(Map) We hiked west towards the Heavenly Ladder, which was just as narrow and steep as the last time Miles and I went up it. The next hill is the aptly named Eagle Flys Upward a very steep cliff, where the wall up the face is vertical and crumbled. There is no use trying to climb the wall here, but you can make your way up on the left/southside of the Wall climbing up rocks, dirt and roots to the top.
From there it is straight forward hiking up and down the ridge lines to the Beijing Knot. The fall colors were out and many of the leaves were already falling along the trees growing from the base of the Wall. We had gorgeous views down in the valley of JianKou, one of the prettiest places I’ve seen outside of Beijing.
After the Beijing Knot is a very steep descent, much steeper than I’d remember. Nearly vertical you can step your way down a path along the wall, the vertical crenelations offering you something to hold on to. Normally this would be doable with careful footing but we ended up running into JianKou hiking traffic jams. There were between 4-5 hiking groups of 25-45 people. All heading south alone the Wall, opposite of our direction, they were ascending while we were descending. This was very very time consuming waiting for people (slow) and dangerous climbing down between groups and with way too many loose rocks and bricks to knock down on people. Miles no matter how many times you tell him to watch his feet he would kick a small rock loose now and then. Mostly it was slow slow slow.
I really like the section from TianTi to the Knot but the descent from the Knot is really a pain with traffic. From there we had to end our hike and head back down the middle of the valley to Zhao’s as we were out of time. This was my first time taking the trail up the middle of the valley, which comes out directly south of Zhao’s hostel. I was sad we hadn’t had time to hike the middle section up to the 9 Eye Tower, its a beautiful section of the wall.
I can’t wait to go back and see the Wall in winter with snow, not sure how much I’ll be able to climb around but we can hike up to the Wall at least.