Although the footing wasn't always perfect, being able to see a less-visited part of the wall was an exciting experience. Some of it hasn't been touched in what seems like centuries, and this adds to the wall's majesty. Some of the guardhouses had no roof on them, and we took a moment to climb the ruins.
After the first few kilometers, more vendors started to approach us. They knew a smattering of English and one woman told us that she was a farmer who no longer had a farm and had to sell things at the Great Wall to support her family. This was a sad story, perhaps even true, but we are all students and could not do much to help.
Eventually, vendors came to occupy almost every single guardhouse. Those not working could be seen sleeping in a cool corner. Compared to Badaling, they were more of a welcome distraction than anything. Our Chinese speaker had a great time bargaining down things like ice water and t-shirts, and tried unsuccessfully to convince vendors he was actually Chinese.
There was no food offered on the 10-kilometer hike except for sugary snacks. Water, however, was not an issue. We would advise bringing water for the first couple of kilometers, as this is the most isolated part of the hike. After this, water can be bought every 100 meters or so. T-shirts are also offered in abundance, with a couple of us buying the "I Climbed the Great Wall" shirts for 20 yuan.