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      Meghalaya, India - A SEND Smash and Grab

      Meghalaya, India - A SEND Smash and Grab

      The Nepalese call it Sagarmatha, meaning “Goddess of the Universe,” the people of Tibet call it Chomolungma, meaning “Mother of Mountains.”  Today, most of the World refers to the tallest mountain on Earth as Mt. Everest.  The native names of this magnificent mountain alone instill a sense of wonder and its importance, but setting eyes on this peak first hand is an experience that leaves all in a sense of awe. 

      The dramatic landscape of this mountain range on the rare, clear day as I flew into Meghalaya signaled how special this mission was going to be, and how much different this area of the World was in comparison to the flatlands and maple trees of Eastern Canada.

      Bren, Adrian and the Cali boys – Carson, Johnny, and Evan -  arrived a day before I did and I was eager to meet up, hear about their first day on the River and get kayaking myself! Landing in Guwahati after flying over the Himalayas and seeing its Whitewater rich regions gave great insight into the potential of this trip.  

      Basing out of the Shillong Whitewater Village, along the banks of the Umtrew River, I had 10 days on the ground to smash and grab the Megalayan classics and I was fired up to get things rolling.  The trip unfolds in the photographs below, Enjoy.

       

      “An extremely rare, clear day on the flight from New Delhi to Guwahati.  This flight path follows the Southern ridge of the Himalayas and delivers a spectacular view of the tallest mountain on Earth – Mt. Everest.” - Photo by Kalob Grady
       
       “Adrian getting his feet wet on the true joy river of the region, the Lower Umtrew is 25+ Km’s of instant classic style whitewater.” - Photo by Carson Lindsay
       
      “Bren getting creative with downriver freestyle on every feature on the Lower Umtrew, this time, a sick kickflip on a small boof.” - Photo by Carson Lindsay
       
      “The steps up the side of the dam at the takeout are a tricky task, the challenge is to get up without using the rope.” - Photo by Carson Lindsay
       
      “All smiles form Bren as the crew embarks on a 3-day journey into the Lower Kynshi.” - Photo by Kalob Grady
       
      “Bren takes on the first significant horizon line of the Lower Kynshi, seeing a line that none of us saw…” - Photo by Kalob Grady
       
      “Scouting became the routine on the Kynshi at every horizon.” - Photo by Carson Lindsay
       
      “Bren on a mission, lining up and descending into the mist of the 50ft tall, ‘Shillong in a box’ waterfall.” - Photo by Kalob Grady
       
      “Once it starts, the Kynshi continues to drop extensively, here Adrian enters Griff’s Gash, putting the slicey kayaks to the ultimate test.” - Photo by Kalob Grady
       
      “Bren taking an up close and personal look at one of the massive holes that appear in every rapid on the Kynshi.” - Photo by Kalob Grady
       
      "2 swims, 1 broken boat and a wild first day.  The boys settle into camp 1 and recover from all the excitement and sunshine on one of the many pristine, sand beaches that line the canyon of the Lower Kynshi.” - Photo by Johnny Chase
       
      “On the water train, Adrian doing his best to rehydrate on the go.” - Photo by Johnny Chase
       
      “Kalob midway through the first big section of day 2, slicey kayak getting bow up through the colossal features becomes a common scene on day 2.” - Photo by Johnny Chase
       
      “The important places, the important people.  Stopping to enjoy the pristine beauty and re-fill the water bottles at the spring-fed waterfall.” - Photo by Kalob Grady
       
      “Looking for the line, Adrian charging through a lengthy read and run rapid as we all get more comfortable with these kayaks, in this style of whitewater.” - Photo by Kalob Grady
       
      “Driving, the name of the game in India.  One-track roads, mountain passes, thick jungle and no straight lines on the entire region, it takes the crew hours upon hours to reach some put-ins.” - Photo by Kalob Grady
       
      “Stellan the master, as mentioned above, driving is the name of the game Stellan was the best of the best.  Keeping us safe and putting in the hours.” - Photo by Carson Lindsay
       
      “We heard the Kopoli was low, but we had to see ‘The best river in the World’ for ourselves.” - Photo by Carson Lindsay
       
      “The final falls on the Kopili, typically a river wide veil of crystal blue water, at this point in the day, we were just stoked it had enough water in one line for a solid boof.” - Photo by Johnny Chase
       
      "Getting vertical, Bren going bow to the sky below the final waterfall of the Kopili, guaranteed smiles following a long day.” - Photo by Kalob Grady

      The Lower Kynshi River

      The Lower Kynshi River

      The Lower Kynshi River has been labeled by some as the best river in the World.  Since its discovery, and through its first descents, the early exploration of this major river system revealed to its founders the true magic within the walls of the Kynshi. 

      The Kynshi is typically completed as a 3-day trip, which seems drawn-out considering the length of the section is only 30km (18-miles).  This speaks to what is found in the depths of the canyon carved by the Kynshi River.

      The Kynshi can be classified by a few different sections by landscape and tributaries.  At its highest point, the Upper Kynshi flows at a small gradient with a lower volume. Transitioning into the Middle Kynshi as it accepts more water from its tributaries and becomes the Lower Kynshi at its confluence with the Wah Blei River.  A major tributary to the river system and another classic Meghalayan River.  The Lower Kynshi narrows after its confluence and the rapids, waterfalls, and portages commence shortly after.  The action is non-stop as the Kynshi winds south through the mountains as one constant gorge until the Rilang River flows in from river right.  This tributary marks the end of the steep whitewater on the Kynshi and shortly after it comes to an almost literal end, as the river flows out of India and into Bangladesh.  The border marks the takeout, and one can see why as we drive up, up, up and away from the river and into the depths of India, looking back over the vast, flat expanse of the lowlands of Bangladesh, seeing the Kynshi turn into a mirage of canals and sand bars as its flow is re-directed for irrigation.

       

      The reason the Kynshi can be nominated for the best river in the World?  The whitewater is the simple answer; its high volume delivers big water wave trains and colossus hydraulics in some rapids, to tight and technical moves in others, 20ft and 50ft waterfalls sprinkled in to keep you on your toes.  Throw in the pristine sand beaches, the perfect temperatures, isolation from society and being out there in the mountains with your best friends, this river defines kayaking!  I walked almost as many rapids as I kayaked on this trip as I often chose to respect the river in the extremely exposed landscape, but it has me already planning my next trip into the Kynshi!  As always, pictures say a thousand words, enjoy the photo essay below and massive praise to Joe Rae-Dickens and crew for exploring this area over the past decade!

       

       

      "Bren Orton all smiles as the crew embarks on their adventure into the Lower Kynshi.”

       "Bren Orton all smiles as the crew embarks on their adventure into the Lower Kynshi.” - Photo by Kalob Grady

       

      “Soaking in the scenery on the adventure in before the Lower Kynshi drops into the Gorge.” - Photo by Kalob Grady

       

      “Bren Orton dipping his toes into the prolific whiteware on the Kynshi in the first steep horizon line of the trip.” - Photo by Kalob Grady

       

      “Doing his best to keep his boat straight, Bren Orton gets a feel for the white-water coming ahead on the Kynshi.” - Photo by Johnny Chase

       

      “ Kalob Grady taking a lengthy scout, visualizing the hard see landing zone in this tight drop.” - Photo by Carson Lindsay

       

      “Bren Orton takes to the sky on the waterfall, Shilling in a Box. The entire flow of the Kynshi plummets 50ft in a roaring spectacle of the river's power."  - Photo by Kalob Grady

       

      “Some scouts taking longer than others, Evan Moore and Kalob Grady trying to find the line that Bren Orton saw…” - Photo by Carson Lindsay

       

      “The dramatic natural landscape and the larger than life whitewater combine on the Kynshi to consistently take your breath away.  Adrian Mattern dropping into Griff’s Gash.” - Photo by Carson Lindsay

       

      “Bren Orton cruising through one of the “Chill” rapids…” - Photo by Kalob Grady

       

      “The important places with the important people.  Admiring the natural beauty of the Kynshi.” - Photo by Kalob Grady

       

      “Adrian Mattern cashes in on some much-needed water as we cruise into camp on night 1."  - Photo by Johnny Chase

       

      “Kalob Grady putting the Antix to the test through this colossal rapid to kickstart day 2.”  - Photo by Johhny Chase

       

      “Adrian Mattern making moves on one of the lower volume boofs to be found on the big water Kynshi.”  - Photo by Kalob Grady

       

      “Bren Orton navigating the boulders and seam lines in search of safe passage.”  - Photo by Kalob Grady

       

      “Cruising down the main street with Adrian Mattern."  - Photo by Kalob Grady

       

      “Bren Orton looking over at a rapid we chose to walk, this time… One of the many rapids we will have to go back for!”  - Photo by Kalob Grady

       

      “The sun pops over the horizon on day 3, illuminating the valley and bringing the day to life.” - Photo by Kalob Grady

       

      “The team packs up camp on day 3, ready for another day on the Lower Kynshi.” - Photo by Kalob Grady

       

      “Send on the paddle out of the Lower Kynshi, covering the flats before taking out at the border between India and Bangladesh.” - Photo by Carson Lindsay

       

      “Bren Orton all smiles as every stroke takes him closer to a cold beer and real food.” - Photo by Kalob Grady