The Emerald Mile: Kevin Fedarko’s Intrepid Tale

Kenton Grua, Rudi Petschek, and Steve “Wren” Reynolds… embarked on [an adventure] in late June of 1983, when they defied common sense and the National Park Service and set off, at night, to attempt a record-breaking speed run down the Colorado River in a 17-foot wooden dory called the Emerald Mile… To get from A to Z, they figured, would require roughly two nights and days of furious rowing. That is, assuming they lived through it… (

The Emerald Mile, by Kevin Fedarko

The Emerald Mile, by Kevin Fedarko

This attention-grabbing introduction to Kevin Fedarko‘s “Rocketing Into the Great Unknown: The Emerald Mile on the Colorado River” appeared in Outside Online in conjunction with the launch of the author’s nonfiction account, The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Though the Heart of the Grand Canyon.

Yes, the title’s looong. But if you’re chronicling a hair raising, adrenaline pumping, teeth rattling, skull crunching story about three intrepid watermen’s conquest of the Colorado River during impossibly furious conditions, I suppose you can wrap your title up and down the spine as many times as you can fit. At least if you’re a virtuoso storyteller. And Kevin Fedarko is nothing less.

I had the good fortune of listening to him read from The Emerald Mile a couple of nights ago at Collected Works in Santa Fe, and I can vouch for his storytelling. Top notch. I bought four copies, three as gifts, and one to read aloud to my bride. We. Will. Enjoy.

Kevin Fedarko

Kevin Fedarko

Here’s the skinny. Fedarko has intertwined two stories, one about a rare (and really scary) confluence of events in the Grand Canyon in 1983 and another about the natural wonder itself. The Glen Canyon Dam (and the perspectives of those who created and manage it) offers a sort of corollary tale as riveting as the three dory men’s once-in-a-lifetime daredevil escapade.

I’ll update this post once I’ve finished reading The Emerald Mile, but until then I encourage you to visit Fedarko’s Emerald Mile Facebook page to learn more about his hydraulic adventure. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s the Kirkus Review:

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. (Kirkus)

Intrigued? Let me know what you think.

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