Sometimes the only choice is to keep going, because turning back might involve death.
Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic for an opening, but that’s how we felt when we first started scrambling up the Great Wall at Huanghuacheng. Our guide had convinced us to visit a less touristy section of the wall, telling us it was the “wild wall” or unrestored and in its original state. Now when you’re talking about something built during the Middle Ages, a few more questions could be asked at this point!
The first thing we noticed was the incredible steepness of the wall. Al suffers from vertigo, so he was not a happy camper. About 20 seconds into the ascent to the first watch tower, Sophie’s water bottle flew past me into oblivion.
In some sections the bricks had broken away, so we were left climbing up the wall using broken chunks as hand holds. It was a little terrifying, especially not knowing whether the descent on the other side would be the same. I kept thinking to myself that we’re committed, because going back down was not an option.
Happily we made it to the third watchtower and back to the restored wall, so there was only steepness that remained as a challenge. Al keeps muttering under his breath even now back at the apartment, “I can’t believe we didn’t die today!”
Huanghuacheng is a beautiful section of the wall, as it runs next to a lake. Part of the wall was bombed by the Japanese during World War II and fell into the lake, making it a popular spot for divers to see the “underwater wall.”
I would still recommend seeing the wall along this section, but make sure you find out exactly what you are in for!