Epicocity Finds Big Lines on the Salween River

After a week and a few days of big water boating, we’re finally leaving the Salween. It’s been a phenomenal week of kayaking, by far the biggest and most exciting of the trip. The Salween’s style of whitewater is similar to both the Mekong and the Yangtze but as we move toward summer, the snow melt is swelling the rivers. For us, that translated into impressive waves and holes and big lines to test our comfort zones.

Travis and Kyle scouting

Trip Jennings powering through

Adam Elliott getting closed out

Andy Maser throwing a pan am

But aside from being pleased with the quality of kayaking, it’s a bit sad knowing the undetermined fate of this river. If the thirteen dam cascade that’s slated for this section is approved, each rapid we paddled, and each that we saw during the eight hours that we spent driving along this river, will be inundated along with Travis’ hopes of building a rafting industry along this river (it’s perfect for commercial trips). Perhaps more significant to me than losing the whitewater is knowing the river in the world heritage site and national park we paddled through a few days ago will become a series of reservoirs. The guest house we stayed at for the past week, the dozens of villages we drove through, much of the unknown biodiversity and the beautiful scenery and cultures shaped around this river will change as the river pools. Each time we experience a beautiful new place like the Salween, we realize that the price of power and development in China is not cheap. But the silver lining in all this, and it’s news that places the importance of our work with the Chinese TV crew in context, is that the proposal for this series of dams is yet to be confirmed. Shedding light on these issues to both a domestic and international audience is a good way to inspire alternative thinking.

Common sight in China these days: A dam under construction.

Trip, Kyle and Andy playing with local children

Over the next week, before we leave China, we’ll be pulling together a new media piece that features photos of the Salween’s biodiversity and cultures with an interview we conducted with a scientist who studies plant biodiversity. It should be a good one. In the meantime, I’m going back to sweating and being watched by a few dozen fellow bus travelers who are busy trying to decide if the kayaks, this computer or my bare feet (it’s pretty hot) are the most interesting thing about the foreign devil working away in the bus station.

The crew from the Salween (l to r): Adam, Andy, Ann, Travis, Lexi, Jana, Kyle, Trip, Leif

Click here to listen to Andy’s thoughts on the situation.




~ by epicocity on April 28, 2008.

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