I conquered 7,200 steps to the top of Taishan and trekked 4 hours around the West Lake in Hangzhou. Climbing The Great Wall? Sure! No problem. Except I forgot to factor in the high altitude and nearly freezing temperature. I huffed and puffed all the way up. Either my cardio was really bad or my cardio was…just…really bad. The Great Wall is segmented into sections based the difficulty of the route. I chose to climb Badaling. It was one of the lesser strenuous routes but I still found myself lagging behind.
The good thing about going in December is that it’s not a tourist season. The Great Wall felt like my wall. I glided down, knees bent, arms out, on the snow caked paths from descending slopes. I marked my initials in the snow. I built a snowman far superior than the person before me. My snowman had two yuans for eyes. And no, I did not steal the twig arms from the other snowman. I’m no delinquent.
My climb on The Wall was not just a climb. I took away more than just pictures and souvenirs. For many of us, we stand in awe at the length of The Wall, the rolling moutains and the vastness of the land that it sits on. We enjoy its beauty and its history. But for us to have all that, many of my ancestors had to slave to build it. The opportunity for me to climb it was all due to their backbreaking sweat because the only way to stack each stone was to carry it up the mountain. And if you’ve ever climbed The Great Wall you know that it can be a grueling journey.