Great Wall Hike: Don’t Get Caught in the Dark

How to Avoid an Unplanned Night Hike and What to Do If It Happens Anyway

It’s not unusual for hikers to become overly exuberant when trekking the Great Wall of China. You find yourself immersed in an awe-inspiring landscape, and the next hill will provide yet-another sweeping panoramic view. That’s how way leads on to way, and even experienced hikers run out of daylight.

In order to avoid and unnecessary slip and fall due to diminished vision, there are two distinct ways to avoid this problem. The first is following a few self-imposed mandates. The other set involves how to negotiate the Great Wall in the dark.

How To Avoid Getting Caught in the Dark

Taking proactive measures to avoid letting daylight slip away is undoubtedly your best defense. While that may seem like common sense, making a checklist in your cell phone to follow on the morning of your Great Wall adventure could help you avoid getting caught or at least reduce how long you are in the dark. Consider these tips.

  • Know Your Limits: One of the common errors that hikers make is trekking too far and becoming exhausted. When this occurs, you will require additional rest stops on the Great Wall, and daylight will fade as it takes far longer than expected to get back. Stay within your hiking limits.
  • Check Sunset Time: If, for example, sunset is at 6 pm, and you begin your hike at noon, it may make sense to hike until 3 pm and then turn around. But add additional time for your return trip. In all likelihood, walking back will take longer due to fatigue.

For the purpose of avoiding a tumble in the dark, let’s assume that you journeyed a tad further or longer than daylight allowed. In the interest of safety, it’s essential to be prepared.

How to Avoid an Accident If You Get Caught in the Dark

First of all, there’s no need to be embarrassed about getting stuck in the dark. It happens to plenty of Great Wall hikers because it’s such a moving and emotional experience. The good news is that you took safety measures in the event this happened by including the following items in your backpack.

  • Headlamps and Flashlights
  • Extra Batteries for the Headlamps and Flashlights
  • A Light-Up Watch with Pedometer
  • Glow Sticks that Can be Worn on Wrists

Beginning with the last item, it may be the case that not everyone in your group packed night gear. Providing them with glow sticks will help keep everyone together. Beyond doling out these inexpensive trinkets, it’s important to manage your night gear.

Manage Battery Life

It’s not unusual for hikers caught out after dark to feel some anxiety. A natural reaction would be to immediately turn on your headlamp or flashlight promptly as the sun dips below the horizon. This is not necessarily the best use of your battery life. In many cases, hikers enjoy adequate light for up to an hour after sunset begins. Conserve your battery until you need it.

How to Use the Watch

Before setting out on your Great Wall hike, start the pedometer and check the time, so you will know precisely how far you journeyed and how long it took. Make a note of the distance and time when you turn back for the return journey.

Having this information provides substantial comfort, particularly if your group grows uneasy or afraid. By checking the pedometer, you know how far away you are from where you began. Although a return trip in the dark will go slower, you can at least derive a time estimate.

Watch for Uneven Footing

It’s important to keep in mind that the Great Wall is comprised of areas that enjoy sure footing as well as rugged terrain. Don’t take your eyes or lights off where you will be walking. That’s a sure-fire way to twist an ankle.

Take Your Time Getting Back

Given you may already be feeling some anxiety about getting caught in the dark, it’s vital to resist the urge to push hard under the night sky. Instead, take your time and avoid an accident. Stop when you are tired and walk when you feel rested. But most of all, take a moment and embrace the starlit sky. That’s a memory worth carrying home.

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10 Cold-Weather Great Wall Hiking Tips to Keep You Warm

Hiking the Great Wall Like a Cold-Weather Pro

Taking a cold-weather hike on the Great Wall of China can be an exhilarating experience. The brisk air and sweeping landscape are only augmented by spacious quiet. It’s no secret that fewer visitors hike the Great Wall during cold-weather months. But with a little planning, these tips to keep you warm and safe can only enhance your Great Wall experience.

1: Select Insulated Hiking Shoes

Comfort begins at your toes and that means insulated hiking shoes. Brands such as North Face and Merrell have niche cold-weather footwear products that provide insulated comfort and warmth. Be sure you have comfortably warm hiking shoes.

2: Best Socks for a Great Wall Hike

It’s essential to wear socks that both allow your feet to breathe and keep them warm. Smartwool ranks among the more popular brands because they are cost-effective when compared to some of the more sophisticated brands.

Although not necessarily a discount product, they are considered durable and breathable in hiking circles. Whichever brand you select, be sure they are warm and breathable.

3: Utilize The Sun’s Warmth

Hikers have a tendency to take breaks by finding a shady spot. When hiking in the cold, remember to do the opposite. If the conditions allow, stripping off a jacket and allowing the sun to warm your bones will have lasting benefits on your hike. The sun is your friend during the winter.

4: Wear Sunglasses on a Cold-Weather Hike

It may come as something of a surprise, but the sun’s rays can be quite intense during cold-weather months. Sunglasses are usually associated with summer, but snow and ice can reflect the rays and cause you headaches. Consider wearing UV-rated eye protection.

5: Layer Your Clothing

One of the rookie mistakes hikers make is to rely on one or two heavily insulated clothing items to keep them warm. While they may keep you warm at first, trekking the Great Wall will get your blood pumping and work up a sweat.

It’s generally more prudent to utilize layers of less bulky clothing. The ability to tie a hoodie around your waist or put a T-shirt or two in your backpack allows you to manage your warmth and comfort levels. Also, remember to wear a hat because that is a prime heat-loss area.

6: Don’t Change Wet Clothes Too Hastily

This may sound counterintuitive, but long-distance hikers may be better served to leave wet clothes on until it’s time to make camp. If an unexpected rain shower kicks up, people often want to change immediately.

But given you probably don’t have that many changing options, it may be best to wait until the precipitation passes and you can dry them by a campfire. If you are drenched, on the other hand, take shelter and get dry.

7: Bring A Bag Of Bags

This is an experienced hiking and camping trick that solves multiple issues. Gather a variety of plastic bag sizes. Take them out of their respective boxes and combine them into a single bag, i.e. a bag of bags. These can be slipped into your boots and keep your feet cozy dry in the event you step in a puddle.

They can also act as wonderful foot insulators under your socks should you camp overnight. Other uses include holding leftovers and keeping cell phones dry, among others.

8: Carry Liquids In A Thermos

Staying hydrated is a fundamental safety measure for hiking in any type of weather. But unlike the warmer seasons, dipping temperatures can cause water bottles to freeze and burst. Obviously, that leaves you without vital H20.

Consider selecting one of the thermos products that keeps beverages warm for long periods of time. The same holds true for any chili, stew, or hot soup you may want to carry in your backpack.

9: Wear Hiking-Appropriate Gloves

Keeping your hands warm remains of paramount importance on a Great Wall hike. But it’s also important to wear gloves that allow you to negotiate the terrain and manipulate walking sticks and poles, among others. A pragmatic pair of gloves includes secure gripping fabric, full use of your fingers and thumbs, and are deftly water-resistant.

10: Choose The Road Best Traveled

There are a wide range of Great Wall hikes to choose from that range from a few hours to full days. In some select areas, backpackers may be able to camp overnight. It may be in your best interest to select a Great Wall hiking excursion that fits your comfort level. The weather will be a tad cold and you want this to be a positive life experience.

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16 Best Mountain Songs to Listen to While on a Hike

Alternative Travel Songs for your Playlist

Hiking the Great Wall of China initiates people to sweeping panoramic views, incredible sunsets, and plenty of quiet time. For those moments when you want inspirational lyrics or a beat to put a bounce in your step, these are 16 mountain songs worth adding to your playlist.

1: Rocky Mountain High by John Denver

Perhaps the most famous mountain song in the American songbook, John Denver’s classic prompted Colorado to adopt it as a second official state song. It’s waxing vocals, and thoughtful lyrics paint a mountain image in the mind’s eye.

2: Big Rock Candy Mountain by Harry McClintock

This old-timey song portrays a kind of hobo hiking nirvana and found its way to the O Brother Where Art Thou movie soundtrack.

3: My Proud Mountains by Townes Van Zandt

Van Zandt is considered a master of the ballad for good reason. The lyrics highlight a mountain lover discovering the disconnectedness of city life. Ultimately, he yearns for the mountain life.

4: Climb Ev’ry Mountain by Rodgers and Hammerstein

Movie buffs may remember this oldy from The Sound of Music, and it remains a classic that inspires people to traverse the next peak “Til you find your dream.”

5: The Cascades by The Fleet Foxes

As an instrumental ode to the Cascade Range, this Seattle band delivers a dreamy tune that offers a sense of wanderlust.

6: The Climb by Miley Cyrus

Tossing a sugary pop star into your playlist may not be for everyone. However, this song uses mountaineering as a metaphor for facing adversity. Hey, someone must like pop. After all, it’s pop-ular.

7: High On a Mountain Top by Loretta Lynn

Loretta Lynn remains a music icon and her famed song gives listeners all the right reasons to hike up a mountain and stay awhile.

8: Landslide by Fleetwood Mac

“I took my love, I took it down. Climbed a mountain and I turned around. And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills. ‘Til the landslide brought me down.” Enough said.

9: Sugar Mountain by Neil Young

Canadian folk-rocker Neil Young delivers this lament with a playful pop in his vocals that turn it into a mood-setter.

10: Rocky Mountain Way by Joe Walsh

The former Eagle and guitar virtuoso takes listeners on a romp that will have even the most disciplined Great Wall hiker grooving.

11: Mountain Music by Alabama

If you live in America’s South, this isn’t a song. It’s part of everyday life. The catchy, upbeat Southern Rock beat and infectious harmonies are irresistible and the perfect sing-along. As mountain songs go, it’s hard to find its equal. It’s an absolute must in any mountain hike.

12: Country Roads cover by Toots and the Maytals

Although this is one of John Denver’s immortal classics, it’s okay to shake up your mountain playlist with a solid cover. Toots blends a modest reggae beat with country and switches “West Virginia” with “West Jamaica.” There aren’t a lot of reggae songs about mountains or hiking. So, this gives you an excuse to sway to some reggae on your Great Wall hike. Besides, it’s fun.

13: The Mountain Song by Jerry Garcia

Deadheads will be thrilled to see Jerry represented in these mountain song selections. Jerry has a penchant for repetition, and the lyrics “Gonna make the mountains be my home” may be sung a record number of times in a row. But like so many Grateful Dead songs and offshoots, it’s a smooth jam that can be uplifting.

14: Blue Ridge Mountains by Fleet Foxes

The Fleet Foxes only reference the Mountains once. But the haunting instrumentals and lyric resonance conjure heady images of the outdoors. This may be a tad outside the box for some hikers and music lovers, but give it a play and see if it draws you closer to nature.

15: Foggy Mountain Breakdown by Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs

Bluegrass remains a genre that can appropriate any song from Mozart to the Beatles. But Foggy Mountain Breakdown is a standard fiddle and banjo instrumental masterpiece that cannot be denied a presence in your mountain hike playlist out of pure respect.

16: Thunder on the Mountain by Bob Dylan

Not what you might expect from folksy Dylan or electric Dylan. It’s an infectious conflation of rockabilly and jump blues that will have your boot heels bopping. That may seem like a weird description given Dylan’s love of dirges. But he reinvents himself with Thunder on the Mountain.

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Top 10 Great Wall Hiking Tips For Women Hikers

10 Essential Tips for Female Hikers

The Great Wall of China is accessible to a variety of visitors, but each adventurer faces his or her own unique challenges when exploring this national treasure. Women find the hike particularly rewarding, but may require additional preparation beyond their male counterparts to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable expedition.

Eager to hike the Great Wall? As a woman, you will find this journey empowering — especially if undertaken alongside other female travelers. No matter who you hike with, however, you’ll want to keep the following in mind as you prepare:

1. Determine Your Restroom Strategy

The restroom situation varies dramatically from one Great Wall section to the next. You won’t find restrooms atop the Great Wall, but depending on where you hike, you could find multiple facilities conveniently situated nearby.

2. Pack Absorbent Menstrual Products — And Plan For Other Symptoms

Opportunities for changing pads may prove minimal, so bring the most absorbent products you can find. Some women prefer menstrual cups, which reduce the bulk of extra disposable products. Time your visit so you can freshen up as necessary before and after your time atop the Great Wall.

Beyond the inconvenience of dealing with menstrual products, consider other potential symptoms such as cramps or headaches. Depending on your personal concerns, you may need to pack pain relievers or other products to keep discomfort to a minimum. Thankfully, exercise nearly always helps — and you’ll be plenty active on the Great Wall.

3. Stay Hydrated

Once you’ve determined your bathroom strategy, you can rest easy, knowing that you’ll be able to refresh yourself when needed. This knowledge will make it easier to stay hydrated — an absolute essential during hot days. Take small sips throughout the day to ensure full hydration without becoming uncomfortable.

4. Wear Sunscreen

The Great Wall may seem like the perfect place to get a tan, but an uncomfortable sunburn is more likely. Slather on sunscreen to provide maximum protection.

5. Wear a Sports Bra

Support is essential to lasting comfort on the Great Wall. Additionally, the right sports bra can wick sweat away. Test your bra in advance to ensure that it will keep you comfortable all day long.

6. Opt For Quality Footwear

The Great Wall is not an ideal setting for making a fashion statement. It may be tempting to wear your cutest outfit for the sake of social media, but this approach will almost assuredly lead to discomfort. Footwear is most important; pack a sturdy pair of hiking boots with plenty of ankle support to reduce the risk of injury.

7. Wear Layers

It’s no secret that women tend to get colder than men. This is problematic at the Great Wall, where the temperature can change dramatically throughout the day. Layers are essential, but you’ll also want to resist the urge to pack more than you can comfortably carry. Aim for lightweight but warm layers that can easily be added or removed throughout the day as needed.

8. Choose Jewelry Wisely

There’s nothing wrong with wearing jewelry if it makes you feel confident — especially while you wear potentially unstylish shoes or clothes. Some items, however, prompt safety hazards or discomfort. Simple jewelry such as stud earrings and leather bracelets are preferable.

9. Pack Food

While restaurants can often be found near the Great Wall, snacks are essential while you’re hiking. Aim for a blend of protein and carbohydrates to keep you nourished. Stick with compact foods that are easy to consume on the go.

10. Travel Safely — Ideally With a Group

You may be surrounded by tourists during your Great Wall expedition, but your trip won’t be risk-free. Whether you visit a crowded or remote section, consider traveling with a friend or guide. This will grant you greater peace of mind, allowing you to enjoy your expedition without fear of mishaps. Choose a companion who is willing and capable of hiking at your preferred pace; this will reduce the temptation to go off on your own.

With a little planning, you can enjoy a memorable trip to the Great Wall, free of annoyance or discomfort. You’ll never regret exploring this world wonder.

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12 Tips for Photographing Stunning Sunsets at Jinshanling Great Wall

12 Essential Tips for Capturing Beautiful Sunset Photos at Jinshanling

Taking great pictures of the sunset at Jinshanling is not as easy as it sounds, but when done correctly, you can produce some awe-inducing shots. These are 12 tips that could prove useful in your quest for gorgeous sunset pictures at Jinshanling Great Wall. Let’s get started!

1: Know Your Sunset Light Opportunities

Breathtaking sunset photography has a great deal to do with light and color. It may come as something of a surprise, but the color window can last as long as two hours.

These so-called “magic hours” begin as early as 60 minutes before sunset and extend as long as 60 minutes afterward. They may be shorter in some cases. But what is essential to know is that you can gain a golden tone when the sun is about 6 degrees above the horizon. That will transition to blue after it sinks 4-6 degrees below the horizon.

2: Do Some Great Wall Research

It may be worthwhile to plan your sunset position as you walk the Great Wall. This will allow you to predict where the sunset will occur and the iconic landscape you’d like to include.

A deftly planned sunset photoshoot could have magnificent architecture or countryside in the foreground. The choice is yours.

3: Shoot in RAW Mode

One of the things that sometimes holds photographers back is trying to be too perfect. Given you have a narrow window to capture the color you desire, going RAW may allow you to overcome intense light and correct the digital image later.

4: Aim Your Lens Directly at the Sun

Focusing your camera directly at the sun may seem counterintuitive. The light range may appear overpowering and excessively dynamic. However, mastering the art of sun-direct photography can produce distinguished and rare images.

5: Manipulate Your Foreground

If you are smartly positioned on the Great Wall, you may be able to capture images as the sun descends to the low side of watchtowers, and mountain peaks. These images portray the gorgeous China sunset as it backlights the ancient structure and timeless countryside.

6: Try Shooting in Aperture Priority Mode

Beginner photographers are often taught to rely on manual mode. While that is generally good advice, the fast-changing lighting of sunsets presses you to make ongoing adjustments. Rolling in aperture priority mode can help you get off more shots. Today’s cameras are usually refined enough to handle this technique.

7: Use Your Exposure for Improved Highlights

There’s no escaping the fact that landscape photography calls for exposures tailored to the brightest parts of the scene. These are your priority areas because you can always circle back and edit or crop out the dark outlying portions of an image. But you must get the light, or Great Wall sunset in this case, perfect. That’s why setting your exposure to prioritize the highlights is so important.

8: Bring a Lightweight Tripod on Your Great Wall Excursion

A steady hand is terrific. But to truly maximize your concise sunset image, a tripod may be your best friend. It’s perfectly acceptable to bring a lightweight, collapsible tripod in your backpack and set it up in a fashion that doesn’t impede other Great Wall enthusiasts. A tripod will open doors, such as manipulating shutter speeds, among others.

9: Bring Extra Storage Cards

Given that you will have upwards of two hours to strictly focus on sunset photography, you are likely to garner a wealth of high-resolution images. That means you will be tasked with either deleting the ones you are not confident about or quickly switching storage cards.

It’s not every day that you get to stand on an architectural marvel and capture images of a lifetime. Better to get as many as possible and select the best later.

10: Bring Camera Lens Cleaner

Depending on the season and weather conditions, it’s entirely possible that pollen or dust could kick up. Remember to bring all the necessary equipment to care for your camera and get the best possible Great Wall sunset photos.

11: Use a Remote Device

While the setting sun from the Great Wall is dazzling, your photos could be missing one vital thing, you. It’s in your best interest to work with a remote in order to place yourself and friends in at least a few photos for nostalgic reasons.

12: Bring a Flashlight

After you have completed a two-hour photoshoot from the Great Wall, the light will have dwindled. Getting back requires some nighttime vision, and a headlamp or flashlight could prove invaluable.

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