The whole scene had a pure earthly quality about it. I almost wrote “other-worldly,” but that’s entirely false–it was perfectly earthly. The whole place seemed like it belonged, like it had sprung up straight from nature, like it had always been there and always would be. The place was stoic–it had seen attacks waged, battles won. It had been forgotten, allowed to fall apart, and rediscovered, rebuilt. Over and over again it has been rebuilt by men, and still it is something beyond man, something ancient, wise, that can never be reckoned with. It will watch the sun set tonight, the sun rise tomorrow, and the same will go on beyond us, beyond our children, and beyond their children.
Of course, the moment there couldn’t last forever. More hikers arrived, and I realized I had reached the time when I needed to turn back in order to make the last train back to Beijing.
On the train ride back I was already thinking I’d like to go back to the Great Wall someday. If its ever done being under construction and the Chinese government allows it, I think it would be cool to hike the whole length of it, and to sleep on it at night. Apparently you can get special dispensations to camp there overnight now, so I assume it wouldn’t be terribly hard to wrangle a week or two long hike.
Someday, I’ll return to China and hike another part of the Wall.