A mountain watchman has seen an influx of tourists into his remote patrol site since it was named as a competition venue for the upcoming Winter Olympics.
Xiaohaituo Mountain in Yanqing county, about 90 kilometers northwest of downtown Beijing, will host alpine skiing events in the 2022 Winter Games. The area is known for its rich biodiversity and scenery.
For the past seven years, Cui Guijun has been the only patrolman on the mountain, taking care of the forest and helping to guard against potential dangers such as fire. Cui, 60, used to be the Party secretary of Xidazhuangke village at the foot of the mountain, and felt he wanted to do something meaningful in retirement.
"I felt uneasy after retiring from the village committee. I wanted to do something good for the village and the mountain that has nurtured the villagers for generations," he said.
Since Xiaohaituo Mountain was named as a competition site for the Winter Olympics, more travelers have come to visit, he said.
"The forest is much drier in the winter. Some travelers take shortcuts to scale the mountain. They sometimes make fires and endanger the forest. I have to keep a close eye on the forest and eliminate potential dangers."
Cui works alone in a small two-story watchtower equipped with two beds, one table and a walkie-talkie. He gets up at 6:30 am every day and starts work.
"The first floor only has two windows, but the second floor has four, offering a better view of the mountain. I survey the mountain from there, and send reports to the village committee from time to time," he said.
"It takes 15 minutes to walk to the tower from the foot of the mountain. I used to carry coal and water, which weighs 10 or 15 kilograms, up to the tower once every two or three days for years, which was hard work, especially in winter. Things are better now."
Overlooking Xidazhuangke, the watchtower stands at an altitude of 1,200 meters above sea level on the south slope of Xiaohaituo Mountain. It did not have water or a heating system when it was built in 2004.
Cui said his workplace is much better after being renovated in 2014, and it now boasts several high-definition monitors and heating units. Cui is positive about his work and the coming Winter Olympics. "I feel proud of my job. Xiaohaituo is the focus of the 2022 Winter Games, and I will witness this great event."