Sunday, August 19, 2012

walking the great wall

in honor of the international astronomical union (IAU) general assembly meeting being held in beijing, china over the next couple weeks, i thought i would share some photos of my hike along the great wall last year.  we completely lucked out with the weather on the day in october that we hiked.  

certainly the most challenging part of the trip was getting to the wall.  our taxi driver dropped us off in a small town, and we started walking up.  it took us almost three hours of a tough climb to make to the wall!


the section of the wall we started walking along was built around 700 years ago and has not been restored.


there are many towers built along the wall that were used to send signals quickly by smoke, etc... today, people hiking large stretches of the wall sleep in these towers.  some towers have smooth floors, others are covered in chunks of rock...


but they all have lovely views!


i've heard the wall described as being the largest dragon in china.  walking the wall felt like i was conquering the dragon, and sometimes it even looked like it too!


this stretch was dangerously steep and slick! we had to hold on tightly as we slowly slid down the slick, smooth rocks.  good thing there were trees growing through the old wall during this steep descent!



the great wall is estimated to stretch 13,000 miles across china, but it is not continuous.  it was built in many long sections, during different time periods starting in 700 BC, designed by different architects.   here's a map - in case you enjoy looking at them as much as i do!

Photo: link

i imagine each section has its own personality, built with different local stone, by different architects, and surrounded by unique mountainous landscapes.  even during our day trip, after hiking for about 2 hours on the original wall we crossed over to a recently restored section and the wall took on a completely different personality!   


walking on this section, i could imagine men on horses, side by side, surveying the landscape in ancient times. 


the mountain's spine. 


a feature of the day that i wasnt expecting, was getting down from the wall by riding a luge!   it was so fun, and they wisely didnt let me go as fast as i really wanted to!


despite what you may have heard, the great wall is not visible from the moon! it's barely visible from the window of the plane as i was leaving beijing! it was fun to spot though, because it weaves along the peaks, as opposed to roads and rivers which either curve around or follow the valleys.

 

2 comments:

Information Voyeur said...

Great pictures and info - thanks!

heroineworshipper said...

Can't imagine men in ancient times on horses, but can imagine a heroine on a horse saving a man from falling off the wall in ancient times.