What a difference a couple of months make. This time two months ago I was raft-less, in need of new equipment and desperately trying to convince Chinese Immigration to give me a new visa on a temporary passport. I write now from Chongqing nearly 2000 km further down the river and at the end of the whitewater.
I woke up feeling more nervous than yesterday and for some reason felt jittery as we paddled off from a little jetty. I say ‘for some reason’ as yesterdays fall wasn’t particularly bad and during the resulting swim I felt composed and relaxed getting out of trouble long before any rapids.
At last! After weeks of arguing with immigration officials and with huge help from everyone at the Irish Consulate we are ready to head back to the river for a final three-month push to the Shanghai. Equipment, which was once of the North Face/Berghaus/Lowe Alpine variety, has been replaced by the well-known adventure brands Primark and CCF (Cheap Chinese Fakes).
I estimated that the distance to the bend was somewhere in the region of 800 metres. The distance to the opposite bank was roughly 70 metres. Rapids ﬂanked both banks before giving way to a second bend the end of which I could not see. Burnsy had pulled his raft off the river onto a rocky outcrop just preceding the inside of the bend.
"After a month on the Yangtze and within metres of finishing the most difficult section of the river we will do Maghnus got flipped exiting a rapid. He made it ashore but the packraft continued down the river. We chased it on foot and by packraft for over 100km but having reached Yushu we have to resign ourselves to the fact that the raft and all of the equipment is gone."
By the time this update is posted we will have left Xining after a week recovering from the rigors of the run and will be en route back to the Tibetan Plateau and the source of the Yangtze River. With luck we will start paddling on September 1st beginning the final and longest stage of the expedition.