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IMG_0144[1], originally uploaded by espeedy123.

We walked a chunk of the Great Wall today. Man was it hard! Crumbling, steep inclines and hills down. I can see how it would keep out the Mongolians.

We arranged an English-speaking guide through a China travel service agent yesterday, and the part we chose is apparently the most difficult and least popular during this cold time of year. The guide today kept saying how “special” this part of the wall is, as in rarely traveled, difficult to get to, even dangerous. The upside was that it was not overrun with tourists. In fact at the end of the hike our guide spent a bit looking back over the hills for signs of some people we’d passed presumably to let someone back at HQ know if the hikers were too far back to make it by dark.

When we arrived a rugged, rural-looking Chinese man and woman stared following the three of us. There were a bunch of these people at the base and they make their living following hikers and selling trinkets. They repeated the few English words they knew – careful, slowly, and so on over and over. They suggested to our guide a shortcut between the two towns off the wall, and for that I am so thankful, and gladly overpaid them for a t-shirt that says I hiked the Great Wall.