What to Expect at the 2016 Beijing Hiking Festival

By That's Beijing, September 19, 2016

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With Beijing Hikers’ third annual Hiking Festival just around the corner, we spoke to three of last year’s participants about what to expect (and just general hiking stuff). Don’t forget to sign up before this year’s October 8 deadline.

Tori Larsen

So, how was last year’s Hiking Festival? 
It was awesome! The trail was well marked, it was interesting (meaning, it varied a lot from concrete roads to Great Wall climbs, to windy dirt paths through the forest), and there were a lot of great people there as always. 

Was it easier or tougher than expected?
I am not sure if you are familiar with the Midwestern United States, but where I come from (Chicago, Illinois) we get excited if the snow piles higher than your head, and we call that a mountain. So yeah, it was tougher than I expected. 

What’s your favorite thing about hiking?
I like looking for the very subtle ways a scene which appears fairly uniform can vary. From the color of rock formations, to the random pheasant that pops out at the last second to spook you while coming around a bend in a dry river bed... you know, for instance. 

What’s the worst thing about hiking?
Gear-envy: when someone’s hiking outfit is on-fleek (and somehow sweat-resistant) and you’re just stuck in your sweaty gym uniform from high school.

What three things do you never go on a hike without?
Boots (duh), sunglasses, and my killer bright pink neckerchief. 

Hilja Mueller

How was last year’s Hiking Festival for you?
Definitely busier and more competitive than the one in 2014. There was a group of young trail runners way up front who finished with incredible times. Regular hikers crossed the finish line later but with the same feeling of accomplishment and big smiles on their faces.  

What’s your favorite thing about hiking?
To get away from it all – to empty my brain and just focus on the trail and my body. Perfect meditation.

What’s the worst thing about hiking?
In Beijing, the long (bus) rides to and from the trails due to traffic and the litter you often find along beautiful trails. 

Can you recall a memorable (possibly funny) hiking experience?
Both my husband and I lost the soles of our hiking boots when on the trails in Japan. The glue had suffered too much in the humid heat during our years in the Philippines. So we were using rubber bands and shoe laces to hold the soles in place – must have been a funny sight for others.

Any advice for first-time hikers?
Keep going, make it a habit. It will enrich your life.

Jurgen Conrad

Describe the perfect hiking trail in three words.
Remote, scenic, and through varying kinds of environments.

What’s your favorite thing about hiking?
Getting into a flow when my feet are doing all the work and my head is getting to rest.

And what’s the worst thing about hiking? 
The bus drive to and from the hike.

What three things do you never go on a hike without? 
A bottle of water, my hiking poles, and a cap.

Any advice for first-time hikers?
Don’t start with Level 4 or 5 hikes (according to Beijing Hikers classification). Level 3 can be challenging enough.

Do you have a favorite route to hike around Beijing (or if not, in China)?
Gubeikou to Jinshanling, again and again a very scenic hike over original and then restored sections of the Great Wall with a detour through the totally misnamed ‘Spider-Valley,’ which is very beautiful downhill and then really challenging uphill. 

Sat Oct 15; The Challenge: 24km+ (RMB700)  /  Hike for Fun: 10km (RMB500 / RMB400 for kids aged 7-12); 10% off for BJH members and teams of 5 or more; To purchase tickets and for more information visit www.beijinghikers.com

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