At times, hugging the ancient stones while screaming at my goat-like husband to slow the @#*! down, I lost sight of the amazing fact that I was walking THE Great Wall of China. Then, it would hit me and I would shake my head in total awe and stop to enjoy the moment.
It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen or done before..built in various stages over 2,000 years ago, it is so historic and beautiful. And you don’t just look at it or we didn’t–it is meant to be challenging and it was. Climbing on hands and knees or sliding down on your ass, whatever it took to gain access to the highest point, we did it even though there were moments when I wondered if it was worth it–it was. It took Thom and I two hours to go from the Mutianyu gate (farther out from Beijing than the more crowded Badaling section) to the top garret. Young and old alike were gasping for air and spitting up their lungs by the final ascension by steep stairs. Jubiliation followed as the few who made the long journey realized that they could stop climbing and just soak in the view.
ADA compliant it is not-in fact, there is no way for anyone who has any type of disability or physical condition to experience the route we took. There were open holes in floors where steep staircases took you down and narrow walkways not meant to be shared by even two people to get across wide gaps. Not for the faint hearted or weak for sure! I heard one stout fellow say, “I’m taking the elevator down!!!”. Good luck with that dude. Thom and I got cocky after making it and on the way down to the gate, people would ask us if the climb up was hard, to which we would reply, “Nah-piece of cake–only fifteen minutes to the top” Then we would turn and quietly snicker to ourselves…
As we cut into the crowded line to go down the mountain by gondola, one guy in line remarked that he had seen us on the wall and was struck by our energetic spirit. How could you not be completely hyped up by gazing at the beautiful autumn forests from the ridiculously picturesque and historic Great Wall??