Colin wanted to see the sunrise, so it was up at 4:00 for that. Clouds made it so we didn’t see the sun until 7 or 8, and then only a shadowy one. But we were grateful for the hours of cloud and even the spattering of rain drops, for a military base had forced us off the wall and back into the underbrush and occasional corn or leek field.
By 10 or so, we reached the wall again. A farmer had tampered with the system of blue arrows, dots, and Xs to redirect people to his farmhouse, where he would gladly sell you water then point you in the correct direction. Colin outwitted him, scouting it out a bit and keeping us on the correct path.
We foolishly stopped for a nap in the first guard tower we reached, while it was still cool enough to be chilled sitting in the light breeze. We would regret that not many hours later when the sun had burned the clouds away and we were huffing up terribly steep steps. At the top of those steps, though was our camp for the night, a guard tower in not quite as good repair as our first night’s lodgings. It was July 4, so Colin and I split his headphones and listened to the handful of patriotic songs he had on his iPod, wishing we had firecrackers, though that probably would have attracted the wrong sort of attention.
We walked 15 km through two very different sections of the wall on our trip, a crumbling, overgrown bit and an area that had been restored. While we met next to no one on the original wall in Gubeikou, recently redone Jinshanling was busy with families and student groups. Walking was easier in the restored area was easier–no surprise–but the charm of the old wall was missing.