How could I pass this one up? I was fortunate to walk on THE WALL two years ago on my solo trek to Beijing.
The Great Wall at Mutianyu was rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty in the 16th century upon the foundations of the wall built during the Northern Qi Dynasty (AD 550-77).
Before my once-in-a-lifetime visit to this testament to the determination of man, I did a lot of research and saw images of breath-taking vistas and panoramas of the wall snaking across the mountain ridges. However, that was not my wall. My wall was shrouded in mist…a mist that turned into the most awesome thunder and lightning storm I’ve ever experienced. At 3 PM, the black sky was punctuated with flashes of brilliant light that revealed torrents of rain.
An hour before the skies opened and Zeus let loose with his thunderbolts, I was lost on top of the wall. YES! I was alone and lost, standing at a Y in the wall, not recognizing a single brick or stone. To my relief, I was saved by young tourists from Northern Europe who pointed the way to the tram. Oddly enough, I was not afraid, only bemused, thinking, well, if I die, at least I’ve had this incredible adventure. I did not, however, welcome the idea of spending the night alone, huddled against the cold on the top of the wall.
Click on any image for a better view and description.
Imagine the hands that labored to build these steps on the top of the mountain, a half-day hike from the base.
This man allowed me to take his picture if I bought his postcards. It remains one of my favorites.
The steps are narrow and sometimes steep because the wall follows the ridges of the mountain.
Watchtowers, spaced two arrow shots apart to leave no part unprotected, were signal towers, living quarters, and storerooms.
Of course, it is impossible to get on or off the wall without passing through the corridor of vendors. I laughed with them as we haggled over the price of silk jewelry bags and chopsticks.
As I am putting together this post, Billy Joel’s song toys with my memory. Why not? Here, for your enjoyment, is one of my favorite artists:
We could have gone all the way to the Great Wall of China if you’d only had a little more faith in me
When I was in Beijing, I chose the Mutianyu Great Wall over the Badaling Great Wall because it was advertised as less crowded. I had seen incredible shots of endless vistas revealing the immense structure snaking across the mountain ridges and looked forward to capturing similar images.
However, it was not to be as a fierce storm set upon us … actually, when I was alone on top of the wall. For a few minutes, when I was standing at a juncture, with the rain falling in sheets and lightning painting the sky much too close for my comfort, I did not know which way to turn. I had moments of true concern (fear?) thinking of the tour van leaving at the scheduled time while I wandered in the pelting rain on top of the mountain.
While I was on the Great Wall, the mist enveloping the mountain soon turned to heavy rain, thunder, and lightning…gifting me with a fantastic display of Nature’s power and beauty.
The narrow, steep steps posed a slippery challenge in the rain.
The Great Wall at Mutianyu was rebuilt during the Ming dynasty in the 16th Century upon the foundations of the wall originally built during the Northern Qi Dynasty (AD 500-77).