Land of the Thunder Dragon

Wick Walker waited six years for permission to run rivers in Bhutan, a Himalayan kingdom toothed with 25,000-foot peaks. “Logic dictates that the best rivers in the world pour from the flanks of the world’s greatest mountains,” Eric Evans explained in the June 1982 issue of Canoe magazine.

When the king’s emissaries finally granted a 10-day pass in 1981, the six-person American Himalayan Kayak Descent team had to cut their 13-foot fiberglass kayaks into three pieces for the 40-hour flight. They were rewarded with five first descents, including the Wong Chu, seen here from the approach. The river “didn’t want to dance, it wanted to brawl,” Evans wrote. “But we could hardly complain. Our final day on the water had been a roughhousing Class IV and V ride for mile upon mile.”

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