While staying in Beijing, we made a day trip to visit the Great Wall of China , which snakes through hilly terrain north of Beijing.

There are numerous access points. Somewhat to our frustration our bus passed by at least one scenic and uncrowded section to take us to the Badaling access, which not coincidentally was replete with souvenir shops – and crowds. When we asked our guide why he responded that the restaurant there was better. Perhaps.

Great Wall Olympics sign

Advertising for the Olympics was ubiquitous.

We had two initial impressions of the wall: crowds & smog, both ubiquitous throughout China.

A benefit of digital photography is the ability to enhance color and contrast. These are the only things that enabled half-way decent pictures.

Great Wall Crowds

When I say it was crowded, I mean it!

Many tour companies in China issue colored hats to identify their clients. Our Elderhostel hats were yellow – you can see a number of them in this picture. There was also another group here with red hats.

I've had a horror of crowds since a stressful visit to the New Orleans Mardi Gras as a child – so I fled toward the steeper section with fewer people.

Steep Wall

Whew! This is better.

The portion of the wall here has been extensively restored and is in good condition. Some parts of the wall have disappeared and others are threatened.

I had not expected the steepness or the steps. Sometime or the other I had read that horses and chariots could travel along the Great Wall – clearly this was a myth.

There is an annual marathon that travels along a portion of the Wall in a different location – one that is even more precipitous.

Up aganst the wall

Wise Jim decided to wait out part of the climb. He took this picture of me as I struggled up. I'm wearing a blue shirt.

Descending the Great WallClimbing up is good aerobic exercise, but I always feel that going back down is more difficult. I didn't resort to scooting down on my butt in this section, but I thought about it. Instead I kept a firm grip on the railing.

Great Wall environment

Looking back over the sweep of the wall in the opposite direction. The section across the way is jammed with people at least as far as that first peak. Ugh!

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