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The Dulong River is a very special pIace. Located on the far edge of Yunnan Province, China, it was until recently only accessible for 6 months out of the year, due to the high mountains that isolate it from the rest of the world.
The road into the Dulong is precipitous, narrow, and often blocked by avalanches and rockslides.
After the rafting season on the Salween, Travis Winn and I headed over to the Dulong to see what kind of whitewater we could find. We drove as far up as possible on the road next to the river, finally ending up in a tiny village where everyone looked very surprised to see us. Luckily there was a group heading upstream that agreed to help us carry our boats, a Zen and a Karma, and gear even farther upstream.
Dulong villagers test out the Zen.
We were definitely the center of attention wherever we went.
Camp in the rain. Photo by Travis Winn.
We established a base camp and hiked even farther upstream to check out some gorges. It was great to hike and paddle with empty boats on this creekier section. The Zen was a super fun boat to paddle, and its speed let me zip all over the river.
Crossing a sketchy bridge en route to what is likely a first descent of this section.
These villagers invited us into their home for some butter tea. It sure was nice to get out of the rain for a minute- it was pretty much drizzling with occasional downpours the entire week and a half we were in the valley.
After several days in the upstream gorges, we loaded up our boats and headed down to the roadside section. It turned out to be a lot bigger than it looked from the road, with several brutal portages over giant rain-slicked boulders, hauling loaded boats. We had a few days where we only made 3 or 4 miles due to long portages and scouting the complex whitewater. The rain never let up, and by the time we got to our takeout, everything had started to flood. We had originally wanted to paddle down to the Burmese border, but after watching a landslide crashing down into a swollen tributary, we decided that traditional Chinese hot pots and a dry guesthouse looked more appealing than the raging river. Then it was only a four day journey back to the nearest airport…

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