The Yangtze Highlands and Gorges


The Yangtze and tributaries have sliced deep gorges throughout this Region

My cycling route in China took me almost straight north from the limestone pinnacles of Guilin in Guangxi province to the Yangtze. This section of the river is famous for the gorges that have been cut into the granite. For millions of years, the river has drained the highlands of Tibet, from which it gathers its headwaters. The fame of these gorges has spread given that they soon will be flooded by the waters of the Three Gorges Dam, being constructed near Yichang. As a point of fact, the entire region consists of ancient hills which have been dissected by the Ynagtze or its tributaries, as shown above. In this region I felt curiously at home, as my native New England can make a similar claim. Anyone who has seen the chasm of the Westfield River--spanned by a bridge on the Massachusetts turnpike--cannot help but admire how these rivers find their way thru find their way in and around these hills.

"Ahhh...but the rivers were there first!" a geologist will tell you. So it is here with Qing Jiangnorth of Enshi. The hillsides were too steep even for terraces, and the soil was better drained and more fertile, so the entire region provides the cyclist with rolling climbs and descents, forest and croplands, as well as small towns. I thought the river ought to be popular with kayakers, and I grinned a a smile of vindication when outside of Enshi a small school of kayakers were trying their maneuvers thru a slalom course. Olympics 20XX?? It'll be a while!! The roads in this region are under heavy construction, as in much of china, so we cyclists will have light traffic counts for a long time. 1