So we waited till Spring (i.e. now), when the weather is more favorable & flowers are blooming & birds are singing etc etc before we visited this, one of the Wonders of the World.
We went to the Mutianyu section of the wall which is north-east of Beijing, only about an hour away from where we live. Left at the ungodly hour of 7 am (ungodly for a Saturday morning, anyway) to avoid the heavy traffic that usually clogs up the roads heading to this tourist attraction.
Chinglish on the Great Wall
We took a cable car up to the wall. It was a hair-raising, ball-shrinking (the latter description straight from the mouths of my 3 guys) experience as we were pretty high up & the "cars" were basically just swings with a metal bar across. Our legs literally hung hundreds of feet above ground. Definitely not an experience for the acrophobic. A. had his eyes closed 80% of the time. Men.
View from the cable car (you can see my boys feet at the lower right corner- that's how precarious it was!)
From the wall, we could see miles & miles of mountainous vista, with the wall snaking up, over & through hill & dale. I tried to imagine how it must have been thousands of years ago when the wall was being built without the aid of modern machinery & technology. What a daunting task it must have been. But labor (& life) was cheap then (it still is, here in China), and whatever the Emperor said, went.
The white patches are blooms of white flowers (not sure what they're called)
The construction is still solid though the stones have been slightly worn by the elements. Mutianyu is a particularly well preserved part of the wall, & I believe that it will be one of the tourist attractions being promoted during next year's Olympics in Beijing.
It reaches far beyond the eye can see...