Glen Canyon Lecture Series Presents
“The Emerald Mile” by Kevin Fedarko
Tuesday, June 11, 2013, 7:00 p.m. (Mountain Standard Time) at Carl Hayden Visitor Center at Glen Canyon Dam.
In the depths of the Canyon lies a hidden stretch of the Colorado River known only by river guides. In 1983, the largest flood of the River in a quarter century forced engineers to throw open every valve and penstock inside Glen Canyon Dam, upriver from Grand Canyon, releasing a flood down the Colorado River through Grand Canyon at 100,000 CFS. Meanwhile, river guides Kenton Grua, Rudi Petschek, and Steve “Wren” Reynolds made the bold—some would say insane—decision to take advantage of the rapids in an effort to nail the all-time record for the fastest boat ever propelled down the entire length of the Colorado River in the Canyon. They boarded their dory, The Emerald Mile, and disappeared into the canyon. They carried with them a car battery, a spotlight, and the bold notion that if they rowed night and day without stopping, without capsizing, and without smashing to pieces on the rocks, the crest of this monster flood might act as a kind of hydraulic sling-shot, hurling them through 277 miles of impossibly violent whitewater—and into history. They didn’t know that less than twelve hours before their departure, an enormous motorized raft had been torn to pieces. They didn’t know that the Park Service had staged the largest helicopter operation in the park’s history to pluck the injured and the dead from the bottom of the Canyon. And they had no idea that a ranger had been stationed at the head of that rapid to stand watch and order anyone on the river to pull over. In short, they didn’t have the faintest idea that the venture upon which they had embarked bordered on the suicidal. And if they had known?
They probably would have gone anyway.
A true story of beauty, obsession, and speed in the watery world at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
Kevin Fedarko lives in northern New Mexico and works as a part-time river guide in Grand Canyon National Park. In addition to his travel narratives in Outside, where he worked as Senior Editor, Fedarko’s work has appeared in Esquire, National Geographic Adventure, and other publications, and has been anthologized in The Best American Travel Writing in 2004, 2006 and 2007. Fedarko was a staff writer at Time Magazine from 1991-1998, where his work helped garner an Overseas Press Club Award. Fedarko earned a Masters of Philosophy in Russian history at Oxford in 1990.