For our first visit to the wall, we chose Juyongguan (Ju yong pass), a recently restored and very steep section of the wall closest to Beijing, partly because it's supposed to be less crowded than the Badaling site a few miles up the road. It's hard to imagine that someone else could be more crowded; for the first quarter mile or so here, it's shoulder to shoulder with police directing pedestrian traffic on the wall to keep it from grinding to a complete halt.
Fortunately, after a short way, about half the crowd gives up on the arduous hike, with some steps as much as 18 inches tall, and heads back down. Andrew had it easy, riding the whole way in an Ergo baby carrier on my back. Despite the crowds, we enjoyed hiking on a bit of (restored) history and the view from 1000 feet above our starting point.