Back from the Great Bend Scout, Lijang

We’re back from our three-day scouting expedition of the Great Bend of the Yangtze. This was most beautiful 120-mile stretch of whitewater I’ve ever kayaked.
A scene from the Great Bend.

For comparison, it felt like paddling the Colorado River though a limestone version of Zion National Park. My back and arms are sore from three long days in the cockpit and despite the thrill of having paddled this two-mile deep canyon, it makes me a bit sad knowing the Yangtze is flowing into abrupt change. We paddled past two dam sites that were respectively in the early and middle stages of construction.

Trip checking out a dam site.

It was staggering to see the impact these highly industrialized sites have on an otherwise pastoral landscape of sheer canyons, terraced barley fields and desert slopes paced by goats and herders.

Camp One

It’s encouraging to know that next week we’ll be putting back on the Great Bend with a team of 28 multi-national scientists and river enthusiasts to show how rafting and river conservation can be a positive economic alternative to large-scale hydropower. Travis has done an amazing job rounding up a team of 28 international and domestic participants that include social scientists, geologists, conservations and rafters and kayakers that were a part of the first wave of exploratory boaters in the region.

Andy Surfing on the Yangtze

Right now, we’re hanging out in the city of Lijang, a designated world heritage site, and prepping for our upcoming last descent of the Great Bend.. Over the next few days, we’ll be delving into the ethnically rich cultures of Yunnan with visits with Naxi scholars, one of the largest of the region’s 16 ethnicities, and artists and woodworkers. Over the next few days we’ll be posting updates on the historical significance of this last descent.


~ by epicocity on March 29, 2008.

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