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

by Kevin Fedarko


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439159866
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 07/01/2014
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 64,435
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About 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.

Table of Contents

Launch 1

Leviathan 7

Part I The World Beneath the Rims 17

1 First Contact 19

2 The Grand Old Man 29

3 Into the Great Unknown 40

Part II America's Pyramids 51

4 The Kingdom of Water 53

5 Flooding the Cathedral 69

Part III The Sweet Lines of Desire 89

6 Dories 91

7 The Golden Age of Guiding 102

8 Crystal Genesis 113

9 The Death of the Emerald Mile 124

Part IV The Master of the Emerald Mile 139

10 The Factor 141

11 Speed 155

12 Thunder on the Water 171

Part V The Gathering Storm 179

13 Deluge 181

14 Into the Bedrock 190

15 The Mouth of the Dragon 202

16 Raising the Castle Walls 214

Part VI The Maelstrom 229

17 The Grand Confluence 231

18 The White Demon 242

19 Ghost Boat 251

20 The Doing of the Thing 268

Part VII The Speed Run 279

21 The Old Man Himself 281

22 Perfection in a Wave 293

23 The Reckoning 306

24 Beneath the River of Shooting Stars 318

25 Tail Waves 327

26 The Trial 335

Epilogue: The Legend of the Emerald Mile 342

Acknowledgments 355

Notes on Sources 360

Notes 364

Select Bibliography 388

Photograph Credits 399

Index 401

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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. 10 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
Loved it
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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