Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Planking on the Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China
Ginny on the Great Wall
Gerry Planking on the Great Wall
It is often cited that the Great Wall of China is the only man made object that can be seen from space.  The reality is that many man-made objects including cities and dams can be seen from low earth orbit without the aid of binoculars.  The Great Wall is barely visible from low (120 miles above sea level) earth orbit under perfect conditions.   Based on my experience in China, “perfect” conditions never exist.  In fact if the air pollution were to be just a bit worse than it was on the day I was there I would not be able to see the Great Wall if I were standing right on top of it. 

The Great Wall is indeed a massive structure and it is all the more impressive when you see the terrain it is built on.  While not as high as the Rocky Mountains the hills the wall is built on are comparable to the Great Smokey Mountains.  I can’t imagine the manpower required to carry these massive stones to the top of these mountains.  It is almost unbelievable.

When we arrived at the tourist stop that was the access point to the wall the first thing many tourists do is buy a tee shirt that says, “I climbed the Great Wall of China and Survived”.  Since I’m not into buying touristy kind of stuff (see my blog “hey mister can I shine your tennis shoes”) I decided it would be sufficient to climb the wall and have my picture taken on it.

While climbing the wall is not like climbing Half Dome in Yosemite it can be challenging for people who are not in the best shape.  Most people climb a few hundred yards up the wall and call it quits.  The top of the wall is pretty smooth and there are parts where the incline is very steep and other parts where there are steep steps.  I climbed about 1.5 miles up the wall and felt that I had a pretty good work out.  I reached a section where workers were tuck-pointing the wall and they had barricades up blocking any further advancement.  Even at this remote location there were merchants selling tee shirts that said, “I climbed the Great Wall of China and Survived”.  Again I didn’t buy one.

A couple from Australia and another couple from Las Vegas were some of the few people that made it this far up the wall.  The Aussies decided that we should do something to commemorate this accomplishment and they came up with the idea of planking on the wall.  I was a bit leery about extending my body vertically over the wall when the ground was over 50 feet below us.  In fact none of us were anxious to trust the others to hold our legs while we extended our upper bodies over the wall. 

We decided that lying on our backs atop the parapet would qualify as planking the Great Wall of China.  So that’s what we did as the picture below shows.  I know some purists who read this would say, “what a wimp”.  Well, it’s the best we could do under the circumstances.  I must say that I did feel a bit queasy lying there and it is about as much planking as I ever want to do.

1 comment:

  1. Planking??!! You might be cooler than I thought dad. However, I fear this picture might signal the end of a craze.