If you missed last week’s Picture of the Week, I’d highly recommend checking it out, it’s one of my favorite pictures of 2017 so far.  In the post I mentioned that my friend Teddy and I were in for a bit of an adventure… but had no idea how crazy of an adventure we were in for!  Well, our day started out innocently enough.  We had picked out this section of the wall because it was way out in the middle of nowhere, we had seen some amazing pictures from this section, and it seemed reasonably easy to navigate… heh.  The plan was to have our driver drop us off where the road intersected the wall, and then just see how far we could get.  We got the drivers number so we could stay in touch (and of course in case we got into trouble), and off we went.  Around about the part of the wall where the doorway was from last week, our driver appeared up on the wall!  Mind you, he was wearing a three piece suit and dress shoes, he had hiked up there from a parking area to let us know there was an easy way down there, or we could continue on.  So funny!  We opted to continue on, so he returned to the car.  As we hiked and saw a new village near by, we’d call him and he’d move the car to that village.  All long the way you’d see these little trails running down the mountain to those villages, so we’d say if we get to a section that’s just impassible, we’d turn back and meet the driver in the village.  Have I mentioned how handy it is having Teddy around, since he speaks Chinese??  SUPER helpful.  At the end of day one, the driver met us in a small parking lot that sat next to the wall, and this is where we would pick up for day two.

The entire time we had been hiking / climbing (sometimes the wall gets REALLY steep, and it’s a hands and feet kind of climb up the stairs of the wall) we could see some peaks off in the distance that looked really tall, and we kept commenting that there’s no way we’d ever make it to them.  Well… we did.  It had been some time since we’d seen a village or a trail down, but we kept plodding along.  We reached a section that was totally impassible (as in a solid cliff face, extremely exposed).  We could see where people had done it, but we weren’t up for it.  There was a little trail that seemed like maybe it would snake around the side of the mountain, so we tried it.  We ended up essentially bush-wacking our way through some REALLY sketchy sections, and then back up what amounted to a drainage area to the Wall. High-fives at the top, and we continued on… both knowing there was no way we could go back that way.  Then there they were, the peaks we’d been seeing all day, we were now standing at the base of them.  We scrambled up the crumbled remains of the wall, up over a saddle, and then… a cliff.  Not nearly as crazy as the previous one, this one was maybe 12 or 15 feet fall, had a nice slope to it and some roots to grab on to, and plenty of room at the bottom if you needed to bail.  Being an experienced rock climber, I went first just to see, and then Teddy followed.  There was DEFINITELY no turning back now.  After getting to the top of the third peak and taking a brake in the tower there (it looked like it was about to storm at this point), we looked back to the scene shown above at what we had just traversed.  Not only had we made it to the peaks we’d been seeing, we got over them!  Really incredible feeling, and as it turned out, the wall would yet again descend down to a mountain pass, which is where our journey would end at the end of day two (next week!).

This trip I ended up taking a bunch of pictures with my smart phone, which as it turns out, has a REALLY neat side effect.  Since the phone does geo-tagging of the photos, you can pull them all into Lightroom, and it basically maps out the entire trip!  Below you can see the path of our two day journey.  Crazy cool!

–Dan Thompson

Zhuizishan 2

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