Hiking Badachu was an early goal of mine when I arrived in Beijing in early August 2011. Looking outside my balcony window every morning, I’m reminded of the mountains that surround Beijing and their mystical beauty. China’s history is so vast I often wonder what might have occurred in these mountains long ago.
The morning of the hike I woke up with high spirits. A handful of foreign teachers, including myself, met at the Gucheng subway station early in the morning waiting for the Chinese teachers so we can transfer on the 958 bus and head to Badachu. After about ten minutes of waiting we jokingly thought they forgot about us, but soon enough the Chinese teachers had arrived and off we went.
My new, and very Irish, friend Paul was telling me that the night before he randomly stood next to a worker at a store and took a very quick picture with her. She was incredibly surprised to say the least. I mean, who wouldn’t be? I thought it was hilarious. So as we waited for everyone at Changyin to arrive at Badachu, Paul and I made it our mission to take what we call “force photos” with the rest of our co-workers.
We were debriefed the day before that as employees we would be divided into teams. The first few teams to make it to the top respectively won prizes. I thought it was a fantastic idea, however when we walked through the Badachu gates everyone went on their own pace and individual goals set in.
Personally, I’m a competitive person. I’m also 6’5 (almost two meters) with gargantuan long legs that can make me walk as fast as a normal person jogs! So it was hard for me to walk slow or slow down. I stopped to take a few pictures of the beautiful scenic mountains and peaceful Buddhist temples, yet I wanted to get to the top and fast. However, so did my co-workers.
Unfortunately, I was not first. Jordan and Hannah, the U.K power couple, and Paul were the first to arrive. Paul cleverly took a secret horse trail and incredibly found his way to the top where everyone was supposed to meet. As we sat there reminiscing of what we just climbed and accomplished more and more employees started making their way to the top. Some were eager and some I can say were sluggish. I will not say any names. Sadly, my team came in very last place! Once again, I will not say names.
The way down Badachu was more peaceful and adventurous than the way up. We decided to take Paul’s secret horse trail. Minus maneuvering around horse feces, the trail was a fun experience in itself. The landscape on the that side of the mountain reminded me of Southern California. We passed random horses with their Chinese masters along the way and we would politely move out of the way, say “ni hao” and move on.
My trip to Badachu was an incredible experience. When you live in a modern industrious city like Beijing, these mountains almost seem forgotten. Sometimes you need to escape the stress a city brings and clear your head. What a better place to do this but hiking at Badachu with your friends.