This memoir follows a television executive and writer in his mid-60s as he attempts a long and difficult trek despite a significant history of heart issues.
On June 2, 2012, Mater set out to run across the Grand Canyon, beginning at South Kaibab Trailhead, through to Phantom Ranch, and back up via the Bright Angel Trail. His goal: to make it from rim to rim in six hours. Rendered in three parts, “The Descent,” “Down by the River,” and “The Ascent,” this firsthand account presents striking descriptive and sensory details of the canyon (“The North Rim, pine tree-crowned and distant, faced me across the multi-hued chasm, the Colorado River invisible somewhere far below”), as well as unique historical stories and geological features that connect to aspects of Mater’s life. Early on, readers become familiar with Mater’s history of heart difficulties and procedures, including an occluded left anterior descending artery, angioplasties, and multiple stents. This is paired with accounts of casualities in the canyon over time, from Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon(2001) by Thomas M. Myers and Michael Patrick Ghiglieri and from commemorative signs that the author encountered on the trail. Mater’s story holds the reader’s attention throughout by building suspense, as it offers numerous reasons why he should nothave run the canyon, even as he’s determined to do so. The blend of past and present moments in Mater’s life has a clear structure, citing his hardest times first, followed by his struggles to make it to the top, and, finally, an epiphany about life, competition, and his choice to embark upon such a journey. There are times when the author’s fondness for historical details detracts from the overall story and when transitions between the main storyline and interspersed anecdotes feel choppy. However, this book successfully blends themes of intrapersonal change.
An inspirational, well-structured account of aging, goal attainment, and personal transformation.