Kevin Fedarko on the Emerald Mile

Photo by Kurt-Markus

Photo by Kurt-Markus

In 1983 a record snow yield in the Rocky Mountains created the highest volume of meltwater ever to surge through the Colorado River. The massive buildup of hydraulic pressure threatened to overcome the 710-foot barrier of the Glen Canyon Dam and sent a devastating current of destruction at incredibly high speeds through the mile-deep gorge that winds its way through the Arizona desert. The Grand Canyon was inundated with a catastrophic wall of the deadliest whitewater seen in a generation. And as the National Park Service conducted the most extensive helicopter rescues of trapped and injured boaters in its history, a trio of inspired fools launched themselves down the rapids in an open wooden dory called the Emerald Mile. By the seat of their pants the three-man crew braved a 277-mile journey in the fastest decent of the Canyon ever recorded.

In his first book, former Outside magazine senior editor and Grand Canyon river guide Kevin Fedarko tells the amazing story of Kenton Grua who lead the seemingly suicidal mission to row a boat through these treacherously turbulent waters of the Colorado River. Named for the legendary dory, The Emerald Mile is also an exciting tale that illustrates the history and exploration of one of the most mysterious but little-known natural features in North America.

“The book was certainly written to provide more than just a turbo-charged adventure story,” Fedarko told The Clymb. “Indeed, the story of the speed run that’s at the heart of this book is honestly just a subversive excuse to indulge in an extended portrait of and love letter to the dories, the river, and the Canyon itself.”

Continue reading online at The

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I'm a freelance journalist that specializes in telling stories about outdoor recreation, environmental conservation, acts of charitable giving and practices of sustainable living.