2015 High Bridge Trip Photo Album

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2015 China High Bridge Trip Photo Album
Hubei and Hunan Provinces


The 2-week 2015 High Bridge trip was another wild adventure through China's most beautiful mountain provinces of Hubei, Hunan, Guizhou and Yunnan. As in past trips, our guests were mostly retirees from around the globe. Canadian Richard Scott returned for his second high bridge tour having first come along in 2013. Australian bridge engineer John Hart kept up the tradition of an Australian having been on all of my trips while Tadashi Ashimi became the first bridge fan from Japan to visit the high bridges of Western China. Rounding out the entourage was Damian Kulash of the U.S. who has always loved traditional Chinese stone bridges but was interested in experiencing a new type of super span that represent the modern era of Chinese engineering. Our always helpful and knowledgeable translator Han Ruoyu was yet another bright Tongji University bridge engineering student we could rely on.

As in previous high bridge tours, we came across many bridges that were in various stages of construction including the epic Qingshuihe suspension bridge, the soaring Beipanjiang Qinglong Railway arch and the towering Beipanjiang Duge and Yachi cable stayed bridges. Other record breaking spans included the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Footbridge that was half complete, still waiting for nicer weather before cable spinning could finally begin in the days after our visit.

In Western China the year of 2015 will definitely be remembered as one of seemingly endless rain. This afforded our group of bridge photographers some of the most vivid greenery imaginable during the occasional moments of sunshine. But if the sun was often playing hide and seek we were at least lucky that the rain seemed to arrive only at night or when we were driving to our next bridge.

But if our trek was generally free of any China travel related mishaps, the second week threw us a surprise in the form of a head cold bug that spread around the SUV, first striking John Hart before a final advance on Richard Scott. Despite this discomfort, John and Richard were fighters and never backed away from another day of bridging even if their bodies were telling them to sleep all day in a hotel room.

2015 was also a first for aerial bridge photography as my new DJI Phantom 3 drone captured some stunning aerials before I crashed it while photographing the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Footbridge. Luckily the damage was not too severe and I was able to get it repaired in China while I continued to travel in the weeks that followed.

As always this trip could not have happened without the driving and navigating skills of longtime driver Chen and another nice SUV that handled hundreds of kilometers of rough roads with no breakdowns. Finally a big thanks to the many bridge construction leaders and workers as well as the local farmers who were always friendly and inquisitive about why we had come halfway around the world to visit their remote town or village.

Look for an even more exciting Chinese adventure in 2017 when we once again visit more than 50 of the world's highest spans including tours of the highest road bridge, railway bridge and footbridge!


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The special spans visited during the first week included Longtanhe, Siduhe, Zhongjianhe, Aizhai, Mengdonghe, Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass, Wujiang Railway and Wujiang expressway bridges.


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The most unusual aspect of the 2015 trip may well have been the very first item on our itinerary - attending an OK Go concert in Shanghai. Bridge fan Damian Kulash Sr. is the father of OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr. and coincidentally the band's show was playing the night before our flight out to Western China. The music videos of OK Go are among the most clever ever created with elaborate choreography that is often done in long takes requiring precise timing with both mechanical props and fellow band mates. The group's breakout video "Here We Go Again" was directed by Damian's dance choreographer daughter Trish Sie making for a family with very artistically creative genes. Check out all there videos on YouTube! Image by Ric Turner.


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Image by Ric Turner.


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Image by John Hart.


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The Yichang Yangtze River Bridge was one of the first long span suspension bridges to cross China's most famous river when it opened in 2001 with a main span of 960 meters. Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Image by John Hart.


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Yichang Yangtze River Bridge steel box stringer connection. Image by John Hart.


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The back area storage space in our SUV was an inch or so smaller then in previous years making for a puzzling challenge on how to most efficiently fit everyone's luggage in addition to my drone case. After 20 minutes of trial and error we found a configuration that worked! Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Our first giant bridge was the colossal Longtanhe Bridge, one of the largest expressway viaducts in the world with piers 178 meters tall. Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Image from Tadashi Ashimi.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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The base of each pier was as large as a mansion! Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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The 110 meter high Yexihe Railway Bridge on the Yi-Wan Railway line that runs between Yichang near the 3 Gorges Dam to Wanxian and Chongqing City on the Yangtze River. With more than 70 percent of the route either in a tunnel or on a bridge this is the most difficult stretch of railway line ever built. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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The Tieluiping Bridge is one of 3 high cable stayed bridges on the G56 expressway. Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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The Shuanghekou Bridge is another giant more then 200 meters high on the G56. Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Local farmers who live near the Shuanghekou Bridge were surprised to see a group of foreigners in their driveway. Image by John Hart.


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Breakfast in Yesanguan city. Image by by Han Ruoyu.


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The breaktaking Siduhe Bridge - still the highest suspension span in the world at 496 meters. Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by by Han Ruoyu.


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Image by Richard Scott.


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Image by John Hart.


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Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Siduhe Bridge was the first place in China I used my new drone. Image by Tadashi Ashimi.


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Image by Tadashi Ashimi.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Tadashi Ashimi.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Tadashi Ashimi smiles during the first of several perilous poses during the trip. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Richard Scott.


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Although it may not seem so high at 125 meters, the concrete Yesanhe arch bridge was the highest in China upon its completion in 1977. Image by John Hart.


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Paralleling the older arch is a new Yesanhe Pipeline Bridge that was completed in 2009. Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Image by John Hart.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Built in 1970, the Xiaoduchuan stone arch bridge over the Qingjiang River has a span of 96.8 meters, more then any stone bridge ever built in Europe except for one. China is home to the world's 20 longest stone arch bridges. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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This single tower cable stayed bridge over the Qingjiang River bypasses the older arch which is now only open to pedestrians. Image by Han Ruoyu.


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Image by John Hart.


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Enshi is another fast growing Hubei Province metropolis and this new extradosed bridge across the Qingjiang will allow more growth in the north end of the city. Image by John Hart.


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Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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This short span suspension bridge is also new, crossing the Qingjiang even further north. Image by Richard Scott.


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The huge Qingjiang wind and rain bridge is made to look like a classic wood crossing but is actually made of concrete. On humid summer nights, throngs of Enshi City locals are packed inside it from one end to the other. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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A buffet style dinner near the wind and rain bridge allowed driver to Chen to eat more food then the rest of us combined! Image by John Hart.


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Tadashi Ashimi shows us the proper way to prepare his home grown tea leaves. Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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A morning noodle breakfast at an Enshi street front restaurant. Image by John Hart.


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Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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The locals have a good laugh over one of Tadashi's photos. Image by Richard Scott.


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The G50 crosses the mighty Qingjiang River on this single tower cable stayed bridge with a central span of 220 meters. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Half of this house was obliterated for the new expressway between Enshi and Qianjiang Cities. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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With a deep blue truss and slender towers over 245 meters tall, the Zhongjianhe cable stayed bridge is arguably Hubei's most beautiful mountain expressway crossing. Image by John Hart.


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Image by Richard Scott.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Time to fly the drone! Image by Richard Scott.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Richard Scott captures my drone's descent. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Qianjiang city's newest tourist attraction is this bas-relief sculpture of the goddess Avalokiteśvara (观音). Although the carving is reportedly only 123 meters high, the top of her head is about 300 meters above the river. Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Image by John Hart.


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An entire park and overlook was nearly complete and will include a cliffwalk, shops and restaurants. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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The visitors center for the Aizhai Bridge area attractions included this topo model. Image by John Hart.


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Still the longest span high level bridge in the world, Aizhai is also China's most popular high bridge crossing due to the amazing mountain scenery that surrounds the bridge on all sides. The inside of the red truss now has an open walkway that is 330 meters above the creek. Image by John Hart.


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Image by John Hart.


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Image by John Hart.


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Aizhai was the third bridge of the trip I flew my drone over. Image by Richard Scott.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Image from Tadashi Ashimi.


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Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Panic set in during my Aizhai drone flight when I could not longer figure out where it was! Image by Richard Scott.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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With my drone battery running low I had no choice but to land it in the middle of the road more then 1,000 feet from where I was standing. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Within a minute after landing it, a passing motorist picked up the drone which was still taking video that I could see remotely on my wireless controller. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Luckily they did not drive off and gave me my drone back! Image by Richard Scott


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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The new Aizhai Bridge plaza was finished but frustratingly the catwalk inside the truss would not be open to the public for a few more weeks. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Han Ruoyu.


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Image by John Hart.


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Image by Richard Scott.


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Image by Richard Scott.


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Image by Richard Scott.


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Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Unlike Aizhai Bridge, the nearby Lishuihe suspension bridge is hardly known despite the deck being just as high at 336 meters. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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After the disappointment of not getting onto the tourist catwalk at Aizhai Bridge, we decided to give ourselves a personal catwalk tour inside the Lishuihe Bridge truss! Image by Richard Scott.


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Image by John Hart.


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Image by John Hart.


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Image by John Hart.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by John Hart.


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This giant pagoda marks the entrance to Zhangjiajie National Park. The limestone rock formations became famous around the world when they were used to inspire the look of the planet Pandora in the film Avatar. Image by John Hart.


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A view of the reflection in the ceiling of the Bailong elevator. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by John Hart.


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The Zhangjiajie Park Footbridge was widened a year of two before our visit to handle the huge increase in crowds. The short structure crosses a chasm 140 meters deep! Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Richard Scott.


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Image by Richard Scott.


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Image by Richard Scott.


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Sometimes you have to use whatever bathroom facilities are available such as this one just outside the Zhangjiajie Park entrance. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Two of Mr. Chen's friends stand inside a restaurant in Wulingyuan, the popular tourist city just outside the gates of Zhangjiajie National Park. Image by John Hart.


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A newlywed couple poses near one of several waterwheels in Wulingyuan city. Image by John Hart.


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The shops in Wulingyuan offer a unique and endless variety of souvenirs. Image by John Hart.


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This new footbridge opened in 2015 to make it easier for tourists staying on the south side of the river to access the main city area on the north side. Image by Richard Scott.


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Image by Richard Scott.


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Statues outside our restaurant in Wulingyuan. Image by Han Ruoyu.


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The catwalks had recently been completed on the awe-inspiring new Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Footbridge that will become the highest pedestrian-only bridge in the world when it opens in 2016. The deck will also have the highest bungee jump in the world operated by none other then AJ Hackett who opened the first commercial bungy site in the world from the Kawaru Bridge in New Zealand back in 1988. Image by John Hart.


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Image by Richard Scott.


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Once again bridge owner Lorna gave us all a tour of the construction site. The weather did not cooperate that day causing Richard Scott and myself to return the next morning when the skies cleared up and the sun came out. Image by Richard Scott.


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Image by John Hart.


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Image from John Hart.


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Image by Han Ruoyu.


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Image by Han Ruoyu.


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Image by Richard Scott.


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Image by Richard Scott.


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Image by Richard Scott.


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Bridge owners Si Qing Luo (Lorna) and Zhi Dong Chen pose on the catwalk. Image from Lorna.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Lorna.


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Image by Lorna.


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Image by Lorna.


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Some spectacular views of the footbridge towers before an equally spectacular crash after my drone clipped one of the construction cables. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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During the summer the lines for the Tianmen Mountain gondola can be more then 4 hours long. Image by John Hart.


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With a drop of over 300 meters, the Tianmenshan Cliffwalk is the highest of its type in the world. Image by John Hart.


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Image by John Hart.


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Image from Tadashi Ashimi.


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Image by John Hart.


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Image by John Hart.


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The 99 turns bus road is a wild and precarious trip that is not for the faint of heart. Image by John Hart.


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The hundreds of stairs that lead up to the natural Tianmen Mountain cave hole. Image by John Hart.


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Image by John Hart.


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Image by John Hart.


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Image by John Hart.


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Time to leave the Zhangjiajie city hotel - probably the nicest one on the trip. Image by Richard Scott.


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Tianmen Mountain looms over the city of Zhangjiajie. Image by Richard Scott.


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A life preserver that would probably not be much of a help to anyone who fell from the 150 meter high Mengdonghe arch construction footbridge. Image by John Hart.


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Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Image by Richard Scott.


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Image from Tadashi Ashimi.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Richard Scott.


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Image by John Hart.


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The Furong arch crosses a deep reservoir just south of the Mengdonghe arch bridge. Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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The new Furongzhen beam bridge will be one of the longest span beam bridges in Hunan at 230 meters on the new expressway between Jishou and Yongshun. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Tunnel supports on the south end of the Furongzhen Bridge. Image by Richard Scott.


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The Morong Bridge is yet another giant beam bridge on the new expressway from Jishou to Yongshun. Image by Richard Scott.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Lunch in Jishou City. Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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A high beam bridge stop along the new G56 expressway in Guizhou Province. Image by Richard Scott.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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The Wujiang River Bridge in Sinan City, Guizhou. Image by John Hart.


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Image by Richard Scott.


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The massive G56 crossing of the Wujiang River at Sinan is achieved via 3 main spans, each 200 meters in length. Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Image by John Hart.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Local authorities did not like driver Chen loitering on the Wujiang Bridge deck. Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Another giant crossing of the Wujiang, this one on the G75 expressway between Guiyang and Chongqing. Image by John Hart.


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Damian strolls down the many steps that descend into the flood plain of the Wujiang River, the largest and most famous waterway in Guizhou Province. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by John Hart.


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This one-of-a-kind suspension / cable stayed bridge hybrid across the Wujiang opened in 1997. The bridge was the first in more than 50 years to be constructed with cable stays supporting the deck on either side of the tower with a conventional suspended span in the middle. French engineers like Ferdinand Arnodin built many similar hybrid suspension / cable stayed bridges in the late eighteen and early 1900s. In 2016 the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will open in Turkey as the first large scale bridge of this type with a span of 1,408 meters. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Richard Scott.


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Image by Richard Scott.


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Image by John Hart.


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Image by Richard Scott.


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The highest bridge on the 344.4 kilometer Yuqian high speed railway line between Guiyang and Chongqing, this beam crossing over the Wu River has a main span of 168 meters supporting a rail 191 meters above the water. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Digital photography requires a lot of double checking! Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by John Hart.


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Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Our route to the Wujiang Pipeline suspension bridge was temporarily blocked by this harvest of corn. Image by Richard Scott.


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This 300 meter suspension span carries natural gas and oil more then 200 meters above the Wujiang River making it the second highest pipeline crossing in the world after the Hegigio Gorge Pipeline Bridge in Papua New Guinea. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Richard Scott.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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The job of this baby's mom is to maintain security over the pipeline bridge. She was very friendly but tough as nails, not allowing us to climb up to the bridge deck no matter how much we pleaded with her. Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Image by Richard Scott.


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The giant Xixihe bridge on the Qianda expressway offers a more direct route between Qianxi and Dafang cities. Image by John Hart.


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The deck to water drop of 288 meters makes Xixihe the second highest beam bridge in the world after the nearby Liuguanghe Bridge. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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A noodle dish lunch in Qianxi City. Image by John Hart.


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The Yachi Railway Bridge will be one of the largest high speed railway arch bridges in the world when it opens in 2018 with an arch span of 436 meters. Image by John Hart.


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Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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Image by Han Ruoyu.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Richard Scott.


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The temporary footbridge across the Wujiang River is also impressive with a main span of approximately 350 meters. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Richard Scott.


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Image by Richard Scott.


WujiangRailwayByRichard.jpg

Image by Richard Scott.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image from Tadashi Ashimi.


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


TadashiOnXixi.jpg

Tadashi gave us all a good scare when he ventured over the edge of the Xixi suspension bridge for a scary looking photo opportunity. He assured us all not to worry as he has life insurance. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Han Ruoyu.


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The French phrase "petit cherie" is the perfect description for this "sweetheart" child. Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


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The Liuguanghe Bridge is the highest span on the Guibi Road and is still the highest beam bridge in the world at 297 meters. Image by John Hart.


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This huge apartment development on the West side of Guiyang city is one of the largest residential construction projects in the history of China with well over 100 forty and fifty story buildings rising as far as the eye can see. Image by Damian Kulash Sr.


Click on Page 2 for Week Two with views of the Guizhou Province Bridges and More!

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