The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon

The Emerald Mile The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon From one of Outside magazine s Literary All Stars comes the thrilling true tale of the fastest boat ride ever down the entire length of the Colorado River and through the Grand Canyon during the leg

  • Title: The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon
  • Author: Kevin Fedarko
  • ISBN: 9781439159859
  • Page: 464
  • Format: Hardcover
  • From one of Outside magazine s Literary All Stars comes the thrilling true tale of the fastest boat ride ever, down the entire length of the Colorado River and through the Grand Canyon, during the legendary flood of 1983.In the tradition of The Perfect Storm and Seabiscuit, the engrossing tale of the fastest boat ride ever down the Colorado River through the Grand CanyonFrom one of Outside magazine s Literary All Stars comes the thrilling true tale of the fastest boat ride ever, down the entire length of the Colorado River and through the Grand Canyon, during the legendary flood of 1983.In the tradition of The Perfect Storm and Seabiscuit, the engrossing tale of the fastest boat ride ever down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.In the winter of 1983, the largest El Ni o event on record a chain of superstorms that swept in from the Pacific Ocean battered the entire West That spring, a massive snowmelt sent runoff racing down the Colorado River toward the Glen Canyon Dam, a 710 foot high wall of concrete that sat at the head of the most iconic landscape feature in America, the Grand Canyon As the water clawed toward the parapet of the dam, worried federal officials desperately scrambled to avoid a worst case scenario one of the most dramatic dam failures in history.In the midst of this crisis, beneath the light of a full moon, a trio of river guides secretly launched a small, hand built wooden boat, a dory named the Emerald Mile, into the Colorado just below the dam s base and rocketed toward the dark chasm downstream, where the torrents of water released by the dam engineers had created a rock walled maelstrom so powerful it shifted giant boulders and created bizarre hydraulic features never previously seen The river was already choked with the wreckage of commercial rafting trips injured passengers clung to the remnants of three ton motorboats that had been turned upside down and torn to pieces The chaos had claimed its first fatality, further launches were forbidden, and rangers were conducting the largest helicopter evacuation in the history of Grand Canyon National Park.An insurgent river run under such conditions seemed to border on the suicidal, but Kenton Grua, the captain of that dory, was on an unusual mission a gesture of defiance unlike anything the river world had ever seen His aim was to use the flood as a hydraulic slingshot that would hurl him and two companions through 277 miles of some of the most ferocious white water in North America and, if everything went as planned, catapult the Emerald Mile into legend as the fastest boat ever propelled by oar, by motor, or by the grace of God through the heart of the Grand Canyon.Grua himself was already something of a mythic figure, a fearless boatman obsessed with the mysteries of the canyon His quest embraced not only the trials of the speed run itself but also the larger story of his predecessors the men who had first discovered the canyon and pioneered its exploration, as well as those who waged a landmark battle to prevent it from being hog tied by a series of massive hydroelectric dams a conflict that continues to this day.A writer who has worked as a river guide himself and is intimately familiar with the canyon s many secrets, Kevin Fedarko is the ideal narrator for this American epic The saga of The Emerald Mile is a thrilling adventure, as well as a magisterial portrait of the hidden kingdom of white water at the bottom of the greatest river canyon on earth This book announces Fedarko as a major writing talent and at last sets forth the full story of an American legend the legend of The Emerald Mile.

    One thought on “The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon”

    1. Best book I've read in a long time. At first it just seems like it's about some dudes trying to break a speed record for running a river, but it turns out to be a history of the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon, the Glen Canyon dam, conservation and then the adventure aspect of running the Colorado in flood stage. Impressively well-researched and very well-written. Any of my peeps that are into the outdoors or history -- read this.

    2. A really brilliant work that encompasses both the natural and man-made history on the Colorado river. The first few chapters stumble a bit but once you get to the beginning of Powell's adventure, Fedarko has found his stride.Fedarko weaves an intricate, fast-paced narrative with beautiful language and an zeal for his topic. I particularly appreciated Fedarko's fairness in covering the dam, the park rangers, and the river rats.I found it impossible to not be awed because at its core this is a boo [...]

    3. Ok, if you have an issue with whitewater, don't read this before going on a Colorado River trip. Granted, the waters were coming out of the dam at 94,000 cfs rather than 6-8,000 cfs but can't you drown in a bathtub? Other than scaring the shit out of me before my Grand Canyon trip, it is a great history of the Grand Canyon and how it was changed by Glen canyon dam, the conservation fight to save it from more dams (when the Sierra Club was told by Martin Litton to grow a pair and fight for it ins [...]

    4. WOW, best book I've read this year (Of course, it is only Jan. 12th)The book tells the story of the fasted ride through the Grand Canyon. Since the river had been dammed, the flow has been regulated and it never reaches the peaks that it once achieved in its pre-blocked years. We all have heard of Major John Wesley Powell's trip through the canyon, this 1987 ride rivaled that. Due to large snow falls and an extreme amount of rain, the water levels at the Glen Canyon Dam were getting closer and c [...]

    5. Unlike the record-chasing canyon run recounted in The Emerald Mile, I did not race through this work. That is not to say it dragged. The book was engrossing and often quite intense. Author Kevin Fedarko captures the high stakes nature of this historic time in the Grand Canyon's history. He ably pulls together a wide variety of sources to accurately convey the story. The task is challenging given that many incidents happened amid chaos and tend to be scantily documented and skewed by legend lovin [...]

    6. I also would like to rate this higher. Having (met many of the characters as a part of my river family and) grown up hearing these legends and histories told while gathered around the Dories at cocktail hour, I enjoyed reliving this in my imagination. For the son of a dory boatman from the Golden Age of Guiding it was a joy and vindication to read of the superheroes of my childhood in print.Fedarko captures the magic and eloquence of these boats in a way only a person who has come in close conta [...]

    7. This book started out slowly, and I found some of the flowery prose to be ponderous, but the second half was much better than the first. It appealed to two of my interests: engineering, with its descriptions of how the personnel at the Glen Canyon Dam dealt with the huge water inflows from the El Nino event and the damage caused to the spillways, and whitewater rafting, with its descriptions of the fastest ride and how rafting companies, their customers, and the river rangers dealt with the dang [...]

    8. Almost five million people visit Grand Canyon National Park annually. While some visitors undertake back-country hikes, most people are content to enjoy the views from the South Rim, and do not venture much below the rim. Kevin Fedarko’s superb book presents the Grand Canyon in a way most people will never see it – from the bottom up, with a strong emphasis on the river that carved the Canyon’s unique features and which provides the most accessible route for the much smaller number of tour [...]

    9. An informative, compelling, amusing, lyrical and, yes, even spiritual narrative on the magnetic attraction of one of the most perfectly beautiful works of nature on this planetd a cautionary warning of the risks to which it is even now, more perhaps than ever, exposed. Lose this wild place America, and you will lose a big chunk of your soul.I paddled a kayak down this river in 1989, six years after the events that form the core of this book. Mr. Fedarko has captured all of the emotions of that e [...]

    10. The Emerald Mile is so much more than the epic tale of the 1983 dory speed run through the Grand Canyon, though that adventure is brilliantly told. Fedarko is a great writer (I've enjoyed his pieces in Outside for years), and he puts the speed run in context with the Grand Canyon's history, geology and hydrology, river-running culture, and the dam-building era. He juxtaposes the Glen Canyon Dam engineers' race to avoid catastrophic failures during the huge 1983 spring runoff with what was happen [...]

    11. I want to rate this book higher - the subject matter is exactly what I want to be reading all the time, but I had a couple issues with the book.For me personally, much of the history (first 2/3s of the book) was stuff that I was already familiar with. That would not be a problem in and of itself, but it is not footnoted well enough to stand strongly as a work of history (ex Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner). Nor does the prose stand on its own like writing by John McPhee.My other main issue, mayb [...]

    12. This is a fantastic combination of storytelling and research. I highly recommend this to anyone interested in the outdoors or natural history.

    13. The Emerald Mile is ostensibly a book about Kenton Grua’s illicit speed run through Grand Canyon in a dory when record levels of water were being released from the dam in 1983, but it’s actually quite a bit more. For those that don’t know, the southwest experienced record rainfalls in the El Nino year of 1983. The rain, coupled with warming and snowmelt, caused Lake Powell to rise to the point where Glen Canyon Dam was at risk of being breached. To stave off this disaster the dam’s spill [...]

    14. I almost didn't finish this book. My expectation based on the title, the cover and the synopsis I read was that it would be an exciting, adventure read. That is not at all accurate. There is a section of the book toward the end that is, but the majority of it is quite the opposite. The entire first half is more of a history and geology lesson about the Grand Canyon and river rafting. There is also a lot of information about dams and the environmental aspect of building them.Because of my expecta [...]

    15. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. Based on the initial description, I thought I was launching into another outdoor adventure tale about the wild and scenic, but the author instead does an excellent job of tying together the history of the river, the boaters, and the canyon with the epic tradition of exploration and adventure that draws people to wild places. So great! I also give the author props for deftly wielding suspense and drama into the story: many parts of this book were p [...]

    16. I have spent two years reading the Donald Worster A RIVVER RUNNING WEST, the Live of John Wesley Powell and am just now half-way through.On the other hand,I got THE EMERALD MILE for Father's Day and finished it yesterday! It was a most fascinating story of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado with lots of side stories about the Glen Canyon Dam, the whole ecology and hydrology of the Colorado River plus a compelling adventure epic as well. It sure took me back to the day when I was lucky enough to ta [...]

    17. In the tradition of Kon Tiki or Touching the Void, The Emerald Mile is a story of adventure that transcends most writing of extreme exploits. What makes the book so compelling is the broader narrative - this is not so much a book about a rafting trip it is a book about the Grand Canyon and America's relationship to wilderness. Eloquently written and well researched the boom covers many facets of the Grand Canyon all focused through the lens of the "speed run." Highly recommend.

    18. Kevin Fedarko is a masterful story teller, describing the history of the Colorado River including its geographic formation and man's attempts to map, control and adventure on it. “It's probably safe to say that no other river anywhere can match the compulsive intensity with which it cuts away topography and bulldozes those materials downstream.” (38) The author discusses early human settlement of the area and later European discovery in 1540 by Garcia Lopez de Cardenas. He charts canyon expl [...]

    19. Fedarko is an excellent writer. His descriptions really do come alive. This is the best non-fiction book I've read, because of the author's beautiful writing. For years Fedarko has been a freelance magazine writer. This is his first book, and I hope he writes more. I don't care the subject, Fedarko will make any topic come alive. This is a fairly long book about the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon from the first non-native explorer to look over the rim to the 1983 spring runoff that helped p [...]

    20. Whether or not you think engineers are the villians or the heroes of this book, this is an excellent history of the river, the dams, and the canyon! Rafting 277 miles is officially on my to-do list.

    21. Another of those books picked up off the coffee table at home: "Hey, who's reading this?" And the daughter has found time to READ. For fun.Well, it's a parent's prerogative to borrow the book, take it on trips out of town, and generally be a nuisance, so I devoured this book. I'm not much of a white-water enthusiast, but I have purchased a seat on a few commercial floats and have enjoyed myself. My most memorable was a 3-day raft trip on the Rogue River in Oregon.It was my last year as a primar [...]

    22. This book does what most popular non-fiction does: jump around across time and space to close up and deep background of a specific event in history. In this case, the background includes the initial discovery of the Grand Canyon by the Spanish, the first running of the river by Major John Wesley Powell, the damming of the river by the Bureau of Reclamation, and more. A lot of this I already knew, and found less interesting in Fedarko's telling than in the other places I had read it (Wallace Steg [...]

    23. I think the reason this book got so many 5 star reviews is that most people who choose this kind of book are probably interested in rivers, boating or dams. I read it because it was our book club selection. That said, I will agree it is well-written, but too detail laden and testosterone drenched for me. It reminded me a bit of MOBY DICK which I suffered through in high school. My recollection is that Melville devoted whole chapters to fishing equipment. Fedarko spends quite a lot of words on th [...]

    24. This book is not what I expected. I thought it would be more of a sporting/athletic story of the adventure down the river. I was only a little bit of that type of book. The book delves into some of the river personalities, the building of the Glen Canyon dam as well as other surrounding dams and what their construction did to the Colorado river and others including the formation of Powell Lake. It looks at weather and what it does to rivers and geology. We get to ride the rapids on different typ [...]

    25. WHY I CHOSE THIS BOOK: It was selected for my monthly book club by another memberSUMMARY: The history of the Grand Canyon and Colorado River from the time of the Spanish Conquistadors up to a speed run by a bunch of macho yahoosREVIEW: As this book was described to me I was not looking forward to reading this book. It just sounded like the story of a bunch of macho dudes who think the rules don't apply to them doing something dangerous. As I started to listen to this book I was surprised at the [...]

    26. I picked up this book on a recent trip to Arizona, and it definitely exceeded my expectations. Based on the subtitle, I thought that the whole thing would really be about these three guys setting the fastest ride record of rowing through the Grand Canyon but it was much, much more than that. You get a thorough but readable history of the Colorado River going through the canyon, including the controversy over dam building, the history of people taking down boats down the river, and the quirky sub [...]

    27. Yes, it's an epic story, but not only because it's about breaking a speed record for boating through the Grand Canyon. Fedarko uses the boat ride as a focal point, around which he builds a fascinating framework that includes the history of the Grand Canyon and its exploration, the changing geography of the Colorado River and its tributaries, a description of the life of Colorado River guides, and the politics of energy and environmentalism that surrounded the building of the Hoover and Glen Cany [...]

    28. Seductively written, with consummate skill, this is a marvelous evocation of the Grand Canyon and the people who live and work there, strung on the thread of an amazing adventure tale. A little slow going at first, and perhaps a bit long, it nevertheless rewards the reader with gems of writing in almost every paragraph. This author has a stellar gift for language and writing, and has applied all his creative skills, along with a truly ferocious attention to detail and scholarship, to produce a w [...]

    29. Kevin Fedarko brought to life this thrilling, gripping story of a wild ride through the Grand Canyon which set the speed records and enthralled, enraged, or both those who bore witness to the event. He masterfully interweaves the tale of the race down the river with the context the history of the Grand Canyon, the story of the dams that hold back the CO River, and the reasons for the wet year. He gives the reader the story that surrounds the race, including the especially wet winter and spring u [...]

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