[My brother Joe lives in Guam and travels all over that part of the world whenever he gets vacation. Right now he’s off to China, and he’s letting me post some of the travelogue notes he’s sending out. Pretty interesting stuff.]

Post 8, China:
“It sure is a great wall”…Richard Nixon, 1972

So we got to Jinshaling without further incident and made to hike to Simitai, along the least touristed section of the wall. These sections are unimproved, authentic and the most elaborate constructions along the wall. Some areas are partially disintegrated, many were near perfect, set against rolling mountians, lush green forests, sheer cliffs, rocky ravines, river valleys and such. Parts of the trek were climbing on all fours, straight up…really cool stuff. Hard to imagine troops mobilizing cannons very far.

The hike was beautiful and I HIGHLY recommend taking the time to see this rarely visited section the the wall (it is 4 hours each way from Beijing). At the end many of us chose to ride the cable harness to the bottom of the river valley and take a boat back to the bus pickup point. What a ride…;-)

Hope your Fourth of July was great. Keep you posted.

More on Simitai:
“Simatai is the only section of the Great Wall which retains the original features of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall. It is 5.4km in length, with 35 beacon towers. Ingeniously conceived and uniquely designed, inimitable and diversified, Simati incorporates the differing characteristics of each section of the Wall. Clinging precariously to Yanshan Mountain, this unique stretch is known for its steepness and ingenuity.
Its steepness is simply because it was built on a precipitous mountain, but it also offers many spots that are unparalleled on other of the Wall’s sections. Simatai’s Tianti (Heavenly Ladder) and Tianqiao (Sky Bridge) are particularly dangerous unless one is safety conscious. If you suffer from vertigo, don’t look down. You could be transfixed with fear.
Simitai’s ingenuity comes in where its many beacon towers are concerned. It is densely dotted with them, one pair of them being a mere 43.8 meters apart while two others have 600 meters between them. Other sections? towers were built at intervals of 500 meters. At Simitai, the walls are in single, double and trapeziform forms, the watchtowers being round or oblate with two or three floors. The roofs of the towers are also diverse: some are flat, some cymbiform and some domical.
That the Simitai section is imposing and unique is beyond question, the more so in that it has limestone caves beneath it. Perhaps more interesting is that two springs called Mandarin Duck are at the foot of the Wall. The eastern duck is cold, its counterpart warm. The springs converge into a single lake, which means that half its waters are cold, the remainder warm. In winter, hot steam rises from the lake to form a marvelous spectacle.”

[Joe sent a great pic of the wall along, but I’m not sure I should post it, copyright and all.]