UK adventurer and Water-to-Go ambassador, Ash Dykes, is getting ever closer to the end of his latest mission. He is only a few days away from becoming the first person to walk the length of the Yangtze River.
He passed the 3000-mile mark of Mission Yangtze and his continuing his excellent progress along the Yangtze and through China. He is covering around 30 miles a day despite everything that the Yangtze has thrown at him. This part of the mission has been an important time to interact with followers, media outlets and people along the way to raise awareness about what he is set to achieve.
He has been presenting to children at a primary school, all full of energy and eager to meet Ash in person after they have heard about his extraordinary journey. Ash loves sharing stories about the mission so far and tries to help with advice whenever he can. Whether that is facing challenges and rising against the struggle, or understanding just how amazing our planet is.
Back in March, Ash was featured on the cover story of China Daily documenting his journey with more and more media gaining interest.
Cecille Elbeleidi, British Consul General in Chongqing, called Dykes “an excellent example of UK’s dynamic and adventurous spirit.” “I’m particularly pleased that, along with his expedition, he has been actively promoting environment conservation, reduced use of plastics and wildlife protection,” she told China Daily.
In April, Ash was invited by the ‘China Adventure Association’ for a live interview as well as Chongqing Radio, Chongqing TV, Youth Daily and Discover Chongqing. Ash loved it and is totally excited about the interactivity of his mission so far.
Ash’s status and popularity has been ever-growing in China as more people hear about his latest and previous missions, as well as interacting with his posts on social media.
He has also been presenting, doing various appearances, book signing events, leading a two day trip up a local mountain for Kailas, doing school talks, attending a charity event for disadvantaged children and taking on many interviews and meetings.
This is a great opportunity for Ash to promote his mission, inspire the next generation and provide knowledge from his other adventures. They have all been very well attended and Ash has been overwhelmed by the support and interest in Mission Yangtze, in China particularly.
Ash got approached by the ‘WUJI’ brand that flew him First Class to Shanghai for a ‘fast’ photo shoot for GQ magazine together with Chinese action movie and martial art star 向佐 Jacky Heung. WUJI is a cobranded clothing range between Adidas and international Movie Star Jet Li. WUJI wanted two social influencers, one from the east and one from the west, to come together and show off the beauty of this martial art.
There was a recent Adidas Photo Exhibition in Shanghai, followed by the official launch. With Adidas, GQ, Jacky Heung and Ash Dykes sharing across their social media platforms, this generated a reach of tens of millions across China. You can read more about it here.
This is just one example of how Ash’s reputation is growing in China and how word is quickly spreading about his epic mission.
But it hasn’t all been easy as we explained in our previous blogs on Mission Yangtze. He has come through irrepressible weather, threat of dangerous animals and bouts of illness, but now he is facing the challenge of very difficult terrain.
These pictures capture the terrain that he is now covering and are the reason why by at the end of this mission, he would have done over 4,000 miles. Sometimes it’s not physically possible to follow the river by its bank and often he has been forced to either trek on the nearest mountainous ridge – or within the valley on the opposite side to the ridges.
Being able to adapt and understanding your surroundings, is the key to survival.
Ash has had to draw upon his skills and instinct to adapt to his surroundings. He has had to make decisions right from the very beginning that haven’t been the easiest to make but have ensured that he has reached this point in the expedition to minimise threats the safety, health and wellbeing of himself and his team.
He has had to remain focussed on the job in hand and ensure that he kept up the great progress on the expedition, regardless of the other aspects surrounding Mission Yangtze. It hasn’t been easy by any means but has been able to rely on his strict training regime and intense preparation he made in advance of embarking on this latest challenge.
I’ve always taken my training seriously and actually realised my passion for fitness long before exploration. What keeps me motivated is trying to picture the toughest scenarios I’ll face when out in the wild and often – the toughest has come true, where I’ve relied on my training to survive. Whether that’s crossing the most terrifying landslides, hacking through the densest and most demanding jungles or fighting and hanging on in there during a bout with malaria. Mindset is a whole different ball game but never be mistaken – with how important training and fitness is. I don’t come with a military mind, I come self taught, I’ve learnt from people I’ve met and I’ve learnt through making mistakes, falling and standing back up again with no brotherhood support, just my very own mind and body.
The longer routes, however, have been sort of a blessing in disguise as he has been able to take in more of the spectacular sights and atmosphere of China. If he was to stick to walking everyday, he would miss out on the true adventure, which is integrating and learning from the locals that he meets.
Throughout his journey, the people of China have been incredibly warm, welcoming and actually a huge part of the expedition itself, makes this country feel like a second home for him.
There have been several moments or problems that have threatened the mission, even before Ash had it all planned, it seems:
Many had warned me before, that it was impossible to walk the Yangtze from the source to the sea
Because the first section on the plateau (at an average of over 4,500 meters above sea level) and the barely inhabited mountain areas are very dangerous to cross, it was recommended that he shouldn’t even attempt the mission. But Ash carried on with preparations, regardless, and has got through the hardest part of the mission; even if it did take its toll on his team.
In order to cross the plateau and mountains in good weather, the journey was planned to start in summer, but because of delays in preparations, Dykes arrived in Qinghai in late August as the days were becoming shorter and colder. Unwilling to wait for another year, he decided to press on. He would be the first to say it was difficult but his determination and motivation to succeed helped him through.
Mission Yangtze is not only a human feat and world first, it’s a mission to showcase the true beauty and wonders of China, (and) highlight the environment and positive work being done to protect it
Ash managed to spend a day with the 赠客网Zenker Network, who work with disadvantaged children. He shared stories with the children, showing them the impossible is possible, to stay focussed on your dream, follow your heart and the importance of enjoying yet protecting this planet we live on.
This was followed by litter picking along the Yangtze River bank. It is great to see the young people taking care of the planet and the environment. As Ash states – “it’s the future generation that will really help turn around the destruction we’ve caused to this planet ?”
Ash has also sought to make this expedition one of the most interactive. This wasn’t just about social media posts, it has been about making appearances and truly getting involved in the local areas and big cities that he has passed through.
Ash loves sharing stories about the mission so far but also of previous expeditions.
The next step has been allowing people to physically join and share the journey, so he can showcase furthermore, the beauty and diversity of this massive country and highlight all the positive things being done to protect the natural environment.
This is all going to be featured in his documentary series that he is working on with a television production company in China. The country is so vast and here are still so many hidden treasures to discover.
Whilst there have been many changes of many aspects during the mission, one thing that has remained the same and with Ash throughout is his trusted Water-to-Go bottle.
Water-to-Go is my number one item on all expeditions
He recently reflected how Water-to-Go has kept him safe over a number years and helped him to complete his other world-first expedition in Mongolia and Madagascar. He has hiked through the Gobi-Desert solo and unsupported, hacked through dense jungle and survived sub-zero temperatures.
He highlighted – “Through all of this, I’ve never had to worry about water, as long as there is a water source near by, this bottle makes it instantly drinkable.
I’ve even scooped up mud puddle water in Madagascar and was able to drink it straight away due to the 3 in 1 built in water filtration technology.”
It is fantastic to hear that during his two world-first records and currently on his third – Ash has not needed to buy plastic bottles. This sets a great precedent to the people following him and all the people that he has met along the way. We are proud to sponsor him and to be a part of his journey.