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 legendary flood of 1983.
In the spring of 1983, massive flooding along the length of the Colorado River confronted a team of engineers at the Glen Canyon Dam with an unprecedented emergency that may have resulted in the most catastrophic dam failure in history. In the midst of this crisis, the decision to launch a small wooden dory named “The Emerald Mile” at the head of the Grand Canyon, just fifteen miles downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam, seemed not just odd, but downright suicidal.
The Emerald Mile, at one time slated to be destroyed, was rescued and brought back to life by Kenton Grua, the man at the oars, who intended to use this flood as a kind of hydraulic sling-shot. The goal was to nail the all-time record for the fastest boat ever propelled—by oar, by motor, or by the grace of God himself—down the entire length of the Colorado River from Lee’s Ferry to Lake Mead. Did he survive? Just barely. Now, this remarkable, epic feat unfolds here, in The Emerald Mile.
Fearlessness, and possibly foolishness, compelled Kenton Grua and a small crew to launch a refurbished dory, a flat-bottomed fishing boat, named Emerald Mile into the Colorado River "on the crest of flood tide" late one night in the summer of 1983. Grua used the swollen river "as a kind of hydraulic slingshot" to pitch them as fast as possible from Lee's Ferry on one end of the canyon, to the Grand Wash Cliffs on the other. In this absorbing volume, writer and part-time river guide Fedarko provides an intimate look at Grua's motivations and accomplishments. Nicknamed "the Factor" because he "injected a uniquely wild-ass variable into the river equation," Grua was implacably stubborn and combative, but also intensely playful. More importantly, he had a genuine appreciation for "the grand whole of the " the river, the rim rock, and the trails in between. Grua's wild ride on the Colorado, how it mirrored his mercurial personality, is just one part of Fedarko's story; however, the river, which runs through seven states, and the canyon, rich in both geological and political history, prove to be the real protagonists. Eight page photo insert.
The first time our family went to Lake Powell was in May of 1983. We rented one of the largest houseboats available and were there for a week. My wife and I, friends and family have gone back time and time again.
In 2003 we bought into a house boat called the ‘Escalante Escape’. And traveled Lake Powell during the last 2 weeks of September for 5 years in a row. What a pleasure! What a centering experience it was staying in the wilderness with all the comforts of home! But slowly, day after day, the wilderness unwound you.
Our first trip in 1983 was the most eye opening however. The size and expanse of the lake was astonishing. Every late afternoon we would find an area to camp. Place the retractable walkway from the boat to shore and anchor the boat for the evening. Next morning the level of water had come up overnight and the boat’s pontoons were no longer touching the shore and the ramp would be under an inch or two under water. I remember thinking to myself “ … how much water does it take to raise a Goliath like this a couple inches???”
This book explains all those wonders and brings me back to a place and time of such beauty and awe.
I will read this again and again. Age may take its toll on my ability to remember, but the trip back to the Southwestern wilderness is but a few pages away.
An educational adventure!
Having done the Colorado for two weeks during the late ‘70s, in hair raising high water through Crystal and Lava Falls, I was anxious to revisit one of my life’s most breathtaking adventures; riding the rapids in a 5-man raft. And, along with that familiarity came a wealth of knowledge about the Canyon, the dams, the geology, politics and the history of this uniquely American treasure, including its discovery and exploration. All I can say is that it’s a helluva great read. I enjoyed every moment of this journey that I’ve urged so many others to take.
Best Description of The River
Ive spent every year on the lake and I never tire of its majesty. The author described the beauty of the river and put words to his it makes me feel. Thank You