The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon
  • Alternative view 1 of The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon
  • Alternative view 2 of 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

5.0 9
by Kevin Fedarko
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. Agent: Jennifer Joel, ICM. (May)
Publisher’s Weekly
“Grua’s wild ride on the Colorado, how it mirrored his mercurial personality, is just one part of Fedarko’s story; however, the ride, which runs through seven states, and the canyon, rich in both geological and political history, prove to be the real protagonists.”
The Oklahoman
"Fedarko's first book is a masterpiece of literary nonfiction, a method of writing that uses the techniques of novelists and short story writers to tell true stories in a compelling manner. Think Into Thin Air or The Perfect Storm. Fedarko spent years as an editor at Outside magazine, working with some of the best writers in the world; with The Emerald Mile, he has joined them as a thoughtful, thorough researcher and superb storyteller."
Christine Wald-Hopkins
"Journalist and part-time river guide Kevin Fedarko has produced a work of jaw-dropping scope and page-turning action in this account of a speed record of rowing the length of the Grand Canyon that remains unmatched.... An unforgettable read, rendered in vivid, sometimes majestic, prose."
Bill Broyles
"This spellbinding true story leaps from the inner workings of Glen Canyon Dam and the psyches of river guides to boat-eating whirlpools and a wooden river dory named the Emerald Mile. Kevin Fedarko’s prodigious research and breathtaking narrative transcend the Southwest. It’s a roaring adventure with wave after wave of spills and thrills. Let’s hope Fedarko owns the movie rights."
From the Publisher
"The Emerald Mile is the rarest of creations–a magical convergence of words and paper, wood and water, rock and sky, human character and cosmic caprice. Can an adventure story be as beautiful as it is heart-stopping and exciting? This one is, and Fedarko’s book is as inspiring as a dory itself, flying down a wild river. I have no doubt it will become an instant classic, a timeless chronicle of what can still be legitimately called the American spirit."

From the bottom of our planet's most awesome landscape, Kevin Fedarko has found and rescued a great American tallt ale that just happens to be true. As a boatman, Fedarko knows this world intimately. As a writer, he'll make you understand it, savor it, and ultimately love it as you never have before. Here is an instant classic of adventure literature—a story shot through with bravura but also touched by the rarest kind of grandeur.

author of Swimming in the Volcano and Easy in the Islands - Bob Shacochis
"The Emerald Mile is the rarest of creations–a magical convergence of words and paper, wood and water, rock and sky, human character and cosmic caprice. Can an adventure story be as beautiful as it is heart-stopping and exciting? This one is, and Fedarko’s book is as inspiring as a dory itself, flying down a wild river. I have no doubt it will become an instant classic, a timeless chronicle of what can still be legitimately called the American spirit."
editor-at-large at Outside magazine and author of Blood and Thunder and Ghost Soldiers - Hampton Sides
"From the bottom of our planet's most awesome landscape, Kevin Fedarko has found and rescued a great American tall tale that just happens to be true. As a boatman, Fedarko knows this world intimately. As a writer, he'll make you understand it, savor it, and ultimately love it as you never have before. Here is an instant classic of adventure literature—a story shot through with bravura but also touched by the rarest kind of grandeur."
Mountain magazine
“Kevin Fedarko’s new brilliant work... is the story about wilderness and the American mind, albeit an American mind juiced on Class V adrenaline... Perhaps because we sympathize so strongly with the characters of The Emerald Mile—thanks in no small part to Fedarko’s flowing proseyou'll feel yourself lurching along with them on wooden boats, in ocher-hued canyons, beneath cobalt skies, into the frenzied thrashings of the Colorado River as the very landscape of the West attempts to choke it.”
Dallas Morning News
The Emerald Mile re-creates an incredible voyage through the flood-swollen Grand Canyon in such heart-pounding detail that you need to pause every few pages to catch your breath... He writes so vividly that your favorite reading chair becomes a spray-soaked perch on a bucking boat hit hard by a river running high and fast.”
Durango Telegraph
“It would not be overblown to say The Emerald Mile deserves a spot on the bookshelf alongside such enduring classics as Cadillac Desert, Desert Solitaire and Encounters with the Archdruid. It's that good.”
Pittsburg Post-Gazette
“At its heart an engrossing meditation on the eternal struggle between man and nature.”
Deseret News
“His poetic and descriptive writing should only brighten his accolades and helps his non-fiction book read like a fast-paced fiction adventure... It isn’t necessary to be a history buff or whitewater expert to enjoy this story...With meticulous research, notes and epilogue, Fedarko tells a satisfying story that is quite an entertaining ride.”
Boulder Weekly
“Fedarko’s effortlessly engaging narrative... is a labor of passion from an adventurous journalist who still calls the Grand Canyon home.”
Cleveland Plain-Dealer
“Kevin Fedarko's magnificent book covers a lot of ground – and water... So it is a great boon of Fedarko’s book that he tells the story of the dam, and of the engineers and technicians who built it... with as much respect and homage as he gives to the dorymen.”
Publisher’s Weekly
“Grua’s wild ride on the Colorado, how it mirrored his mercurial personality, is just one part of Fedarko’s story; however, the ride, which runs through seven states, and the canyon, rich in both geological and political history, prove to be the real protagonists.”
Kirkus Reviews
Man's indomitable need for adventure is the only thing more impressive than the awesome power of nature and the brilliance of technology described in this lovingly rendered retelling of one of the most remarkable events ever to occur inside the Grand Canyon. In 1983, at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, a confluence of unlikely events provided three unique characters with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become the fastest to ever race through that singular marvel in a rowboat. How these quirky "dory men" were able to surmount every obstacle thrown in their way and actually attempt this remarkable undertaking is breathtaking enough. But theirs is not the only tale being told. This is the story of the Grand Canyon itself, harkening all the way back to the days when a band of befuddled Conquistadors first stumbled upon its rim and failed to grasp its magnitude. It is also the story of the Glen Canyon Dam, that Herculean feat of human ingenuity that was constructed with the staggering imperative to harness the power of the Colorado River. Former Time staff writer Fedarko's extensive knowledge of both, coupled with his powers of description, are almost as impressive. Powerful and poetic passages put readers inside the adventurers' boats, even if they have only ever imagined the Grand Canyon or seen it in pictures. "Every mile or so, the walls opened and gave way to yet another side canyon filled with secret springs and waterfalls," he writes. "The air was alive with pink-and-lavender dragonflies that paused, twitchingly, on the shafts of their suspended oars." Each piece of the extensive back story is assembled as lyrically as the epoch-spanning walls of the canyon itself and as assuredly as the soaring concrete face of its dams. An epic-sized true-life adventure tale that appeals to both the heart and the head.
editor-at-large at Outside Magazine and author of Blood and Thunder and Ghost Soldiers - Hampton Sides
"From the bottom of our planet's most awesome landscape, Kevin Fedarko has found and rescued a great American tall tale that just happens to be true. As a boatman, Fedarko knows this world intimately. As a writer, he'll make you understand it, savor it, and ultimately love it as you never have before. Here is an instant classic of adventure literature—a story shot through with bravura but also touched by the rarest kind of grandeur."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781439159859
Publisher:
Scribner
Publication date:
05/07/2013
Pages:
415
Sales rank:
185,246
Product dimensions:
6.42(w) x 9.12(h) x 1.27(d)

What People are saying about this

author of Swimming in the Volcano and Easy in the Islands - Bob Shacochis
"The Emerald Mile is the rarest of creations–a magical convergence of words and paper, wood and water, rock and sky, human character and cosmic caprice. Can an adventure story be as beautiful as it is heart-stopping and exciting? This one is, and Fedarko’s book is as beautiful as a dory itself, flying down a wild river. I have no doubt it will become an instant classic, a timeless chronicle of what can still be legitimately called the American spirit.

Meet the Author

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 a 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 and 2006. Fedarko was a staff writer at Time magazine from 1991 to 1997, where his work helped garner an Overseas Press Club Award for a story on the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Fedarko earned a Masters of Philosophy in Russian history at Oxford in 1990.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We need to be reminded that the Grand Canyon is one of 7 Wonders of the Natural World. And, Kevin Fedarko does a masterful job awakening your mind and heart to the majesty and splendor to be found in this world treasure. A fascinating history of the canyon is compellingly woven around the seminal event - a speed run through the canyon. While that ride is surely thrilling, more thrilling is the portrait of beauty, grandeur and awe the writing inspires for the Grand Canyon. This book has compelled me to add a trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon to my bucket list and moved it to the top of that list!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book a few months ago. It is not my kind of book--I like fiction-- but this book picked me up with the first sentences and swept me along to the end. I learned so much, and I am buying this paperback so that I can  share it with my family. Kevin Fedarko knows his stuff: he knows the Canyon; he knows the people who have dealt  with it; and he knows how to write about it. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not just one of the best outdoor books I've ever read but one of the best books I've ever read. The history of the canyon and river, the descriptions of the float in the canyon, the event itself, and everything else that was going on at the time. I didn't want to put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I finished this book about a month ago, and it still slips into my mind every few days. What a well written story of the near catastrophe of the Glen Canyon Dam, the breaking of the record of the Emerald Mile, and the men and women who wrestled with the Colorado River. During my reading, we did go to the Grand Canyon, and it was magnificent to see what the writer was describing. Highly recommend this book. Makes me want to go back and experience the river and meet the guides.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it to anyone who loves the wilderness!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a great first book for Kevin Fedarko! What a wonderful ride into history and onto the Colorado River! The Grand Canyon just got put on my bucket list. But yet I feel like I have already been there in Kevin's words