Our Christmas on The Wall

We woke up bright and early Christmas morning and since there weren't any presents to open we decided why not go trekking along The Great Wall of China. Thanks to some great advice from our Belmar neighbors Hellen and Geoff we had booked a trip with Beijing Hikers. Little did we know it would be an event filled morning.

Our bus pickup for the hike was a few Subway transfers away so the night before I had mapped out our route, unfortunately I didn't plan well enough and after a few tangles we arrived about 5 minutes late to the pickup. The bus was gone. Christmas morning disaster #1. However, in case we ran into any issues we had our cell phone and a contact number. We hadn't thought to lookup China's country code so the call wouldn't go through. Christmas morning disaster #2. Luckily the bus was also picking people up at a hotel a few miles away, so we rushed to find a cab. Getting a cab was easy, but telling the driver where we were going in Mandarin was not. Christmas morning disaster #3. Again we found some luck and managed to stumble upon a nice young guy who helped tell a taxi driver where we wanted to go. After a few U-turns and refusing to go over the speed limit (he would actually slam on the brakes if the car went even 1k over) our driver got us to the hotel and we ran through the lobby looking for the meeting spot. No group to be found. Christmas morning disaster #4. While Abby tried to make a call to the trip organizer from a coffee shop I headed outside. Looking around the corner I spotted a bus and ran over. It was Beijing Hikers, we made it! Christmas morning is saved! We climbed into the bus, already sweating and breathing hard and we hadn't even started our trek.

Made It!

The bus took us about 2 hours outside of Beijing to the Jiankou section of The Great Wall. We climbed up a steep trail, the hardest part of the day, to a tower that sat about 1000+ meters above sea level. Climbing on top of the tower we had an unbelievable 360 degree view of the surrounding landscape and what a view it was.

Scaling a Tower

Jiankou View

Across the Hills

Jiankou Panorama

Abby and Me on the Tower

Along the Hills

When everyone had taken photos and started to get cold standing still in the freezing temps we started up again on our route along the top of the wall. It was a great time, we were on a deserted part of the wall, we were surrounded by amazing vistas and we were walking along part of a 5,000 mile massive wall that was built centuries ago. Over the last few months we have seen some amazing places and you always have thoughts of what a place is going to be like, but I will say that The Great Wall of China is one of the few places that surpassed those expectations. The sheer magnitude and surrounding scenery are impressive.

Tower Walls

On The Top


Great Wall View

Great Wall Overlook

Great Wall Below

Tower Light I

Great Wall Hike

Winding Back

Great Wall Architecture

Tower Light II

We continued along for about 10k until we reached the Mutianyu area of the wall. From there we climbed down to a small town and began the Christmas festivities. We headed to a nearby restaurant and were served plate after plate of tasty Chinese dishes and celebratory drinks. After lunch there were 2 dumpling making contests, who could make the most and who could make the most authentic looking. The winner won a bottle of wine. Upon hearing "wine" Abby put on her game face and began on her dumpling creations and lo and behold she won 'most authentic'.

Dumpling Making I

Abby's Dumpling

Dumpling Making II

Award Winning Dumplings

Thanks to Abby we were able to round out our Christmas with a nice bottle of Chilean wine with some cheese and crackers. It was quite the day and Abby and I will both look back at it as one of the highlights of the trip.

Great Wall Colors


  1. Badass all around...Great Wall photos, Abby winning a dumpling contest, being on a multi-month world travel. You guys are killing it! Nice work. Thank you again, so much, for keeping so up to date on the blog. it is a huge treat to get to read and see all you're doing. Sending love and light!

  2. I'm also loving the blog, the takeaways and the photos. Thanks for sharing. Chris and I climbed a similar section of the wall in July 2007 and it looks so different in the winter. Your photos bundled up in puffy coats are better than ours soaked in sweat! -Kathryn V.

  3. Yea Abby!!!! Way to kill it in the dumpling making contest and win some Christmas wine. Awesome!!!

  4. Wow wow and more WOW! It kind of brings tears to my eyes just reading the amazing-ness of your trip and especially this Christmas Day! Like TBarb said, you guys are killing it!