The Great Wall turned out to be quite as astounding as we hoped. It was midwinter, the air was crisp and it was a numbing -18 degrees. We set out really early in the morning and made our way 50 kilometers out of central Beijing to the Changping district to see one of the three greatest mountain passes of the Great Wall of China. From what we gathered, walking the Great Wall would be a breeze if you were reasonably fit. My grandfather did it in his 70s with little effort, an endeavor he undertook in the Fall of ‘97. Doing so in the midst of winter though, is an entirely different endeavor. We arrived at the base of the Juyong Pass to find a thick layer of ice glazed over the surface of our pathway, watched as visitors skidded down the slippery slopes and wondered if we should even proceed with such a daunting attempt.
The layer of ice beneath our feet grew thicker and it had gotten so cold that our feet stung. We held onto the railing as we made our way higher up, clambering up almost, uncovering a view so breathtaking that we forgot all about the biting cold. High enough to see the extended parts of the wall snake across the mountain, we took in the view for as long as possible, stopping by a cosy souvenir shop along the way – we went in for the heating and hot tea!
The Great Wall truly is a spectacle, a place we’d really like to revisit in the Fall one day.