Three Gorges

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The Yangtze is one of the largest rivers in the world. It carries the melt waters of the north side of the Himalayas across China and into the Pacific Ocean. There are three smaller mountain ranges in the way. Too bad for them! Over the years the Yangtze has sliced right through them. It's sort of like the Delaware Water Gap where the Delaware River slices through the Poconos, only bigger, and three of them.

Now listen carefully, because I'm only going to say this once: Xiling, Wuxia, and Qutang. Those are the names of the three gorges. We were too busy admiring the scenery to hear much about the history if the gorges, but this much we can pass on: their history is drawing to an end. When the Three Gorges Dam closes in 2003, The three gorges will fill with water and will become one of the world's largest reservoirs. At that point the Tourism Ministry will need to survey the area and see where there is some new scenery to show the tourists. Now you know why we needed to see the Yangtze this year.

gorges02.jpg (116466 bytes) gorges01.jpg (162851 bytes) As we head upriver from Yichang and the Gozhuba dam, the valley gets narrower and the hills, now thickly forested, grow taller.

When I find out who this is welcoming us to the three gorges, I'll let you know.

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OK, as I remember this is about the point that I tuned the river guide out and just stood and watched. So I'll keep the commentary to a minimum.

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gorges09.jpg (81411 bytes)gorges06.jpg (78936 bytes)Each of the three gorges is actually a series of gorges. Here the river becomes one way and we have to wait for downriver traffic before we proceed upriver.

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gorges11.jpg (215799 bytes) This one is important! Before they blew up most of the obstacles, this stretch of the gorges was one of the most dangerous: whirlpools, rapids, eddies, all sorts of bad stuff! Ships were wrecked regularly in through here. So, they would unload the ships, and have teams of up to 400 men tow the ship through here. They were called trackers. And this four-foot-high scratch on the cliff face is the tracker trail. Get the picture? And when the dam fills up, these will be under water.
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gorges26.jpg (188846 bytes) gorges42.jpg (253295 bytes)gorges27.jpg (134319 bytes)There is a sign in the middle of this cluster of houses that says "135." This point is 135 meters above sea level. This is important for the residents to know, since that is what the water level will be in 2003. By 2009 it will reach the 175 meter level, the permanent level of the reservoir.
gorges29.jpg (202289 bytes) gorges28.jpg (153586 bytes)I love the way that the clear water of the local streams mixes with the silt-laden Yangtze.
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