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Canyon Solitude: A Woman's Solo River Journey Through the Grand Canyon (Adventura Books) Paperback


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Canyon Solitude: A Woman's Solo River Journey Through the Grand Canyon (Adventura Books) + There's This River... Grand Canyon Boatman Stories + Belknap's Waterproof Grand Canyon River Guide All New Edition
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Product Details

  • Series: Adventura Books
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press; First Printing edition (April 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580050077
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580050074
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #348,134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"It's well known that Mother River doesn't like a smart aleck," says Patricia McCairen. Accordingly, she plies her oars with reverence and skill on a sometimes hair-raising solo rafting trip along the Colorado River that winds though the stupendous stone valleys of the American Grand Canyon. Like the waters of the Colorado, which change from long, still stretches to boiling white water that barely clothes sharp rocks and hides holes that can suck down a raft, McCairen's moods--and even her name--change as the miles unwind. One moment, she's the cocky, athletic river guide Babe; the next, she's an earthier, more spiritual woman who answers to the name of Patch. Hours later, she seems more vulnerable, less convinced of her strength and joy in the solitude she so zealously courts. Canyon Solitude records these shifts and beautifully limns a journey that tests McCairen's mettle and shows that determination, grit, and the will to spurn conventional rewards offer their own deep satisfactions. --Francesca Coltrera

From Publishers Weekly

Navigating the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon is usually challenging or at very least momentous. This honest, firsthand account by McCairen, a veteran rafter on a 25-day solo journey, describes a trip that was the culmination of McCairen's decision to change her life. Her keenly observant eye and finely detailed descriptions re-create the magnificence of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River in all their danger and beauty. Her trepidation at the outset of the trip and in some of its more alarming moments show the true vulnerability of a woman alone in the wilderness trying to accomplish a "man's" challenge. McCairen is a former city-dweller who fell in love with the Grand Canyon on her first group river trip, and wanted to experience it solo. As the book, and trip, progress, McCairen as writer and subject emerges as an ever more confident woman who discovers that the solitude she has simultaneously craved and feared has diminished as canyon and river sustain her. "Solitude has a sound all its own, a feeling, a special vision. With each stroke on the oars, I draw myself deeper into its realm.... Yes, I'm terribly small and vulnerable, minuscule compared to this deep, green river and the walls growing up around me." McCairen's experience reflects a complex array of emotions, but it is her fear, joy and ultimate elation that come through most vividly.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I purchased this book first on a vaction and have had to purchase another copy as I read it once every year.
S. R. Pruter
This is a beautiful book, one in which the author goes beyond her river journey to do some soul-searching into her own truths.
E. Gouveia Miner
I learned a good deal about what it's like to raft the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon and about the canyon.
Lois Requist

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Stroup on November 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
Experienced river-runner Patricia McCairen was suddenly faced with a choice when she found herself without companions for a trip through Grand Canyon. She could give up her permit and hope to get another at some point or she could go it alone. Certain she would be saved from her bravado she called the National Park Service to get special permission for a solo trip and was both surprised and terrified when permisssion was granted.
Thus did McCairen enter into a trip that would allow her to delve into the differences between solitude and loneliness and eventually come to grips with her course in life.
Canyon Solitude is more about a personal journey of the mind than a journey through Grand Canyon. Reading as she struggles with her history (with men, with her mother, with her professional goals) provides insight into how we all allow our direction to be shaped by others, only convincing ourselves that we are truly independent. As we find McCairen actually achieving independence it is easy to understand as she swings from exhileration to terror and back to exhileration, finally achieving contentment.
The book is a bit slow at times, but as with the actual river, it has periods of intense excitement that more than make up for the lulls. Perhaps without the calms between the rapids, it wouldn't be possible to really understand what has been accomplished.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Aspen Leaf on April 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful read. It gracefully mixes adventure with honest self-revelation as it explores the potentials and pains of a woman at midlife. Especially meaningful to me were McCairen's meditations on solitude versus loneliness and her wrestling with fear of intimacy. Going alone into the wilderness is a radical act for a woman, and McCairen engages it with consciousness and skill. I was sorry when the book ended, I had grown to so look forward to curling up with it at the end of the day. I would welcome a sequel.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
Having rafted the Colorado with a tour group not long ago, and I am in awe of what this woman did. The book is wonderfully written, and a page-turner for anyone, women in particular, who is a Grand Canyon/Colorado River enthusiast. I felt like I was right back there with every page...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on August 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
I read this book practically cover to cover...Patricia McCairen captures the spirit of all adventure women. Whether running rivers, living in a Tipi, or climbing a massive rocky ledge, I was spellbound buy the journey into self and the discovery of her own strengths. The real topper for me was Patricia's realization that the wilderness, the river, was her place in the world, contrary to what her family and friends told her. She is my hero for being courageous enough to be lead by something other than popular opinion about who she is!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "sierramary" on May 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book conveyed the spirit of a solo journey without pop style sound-bites or excruciating detail. Its a relief to read a book about a technical adventure that isn't filled with second-by-second accounts of every action, re-action, and re-re-action. "Patch"s style is easy to read and draws the reader in. If you have ever done a real solo adventure, you will likely relate to her. If you haven't, this is a nice book to let you feel like you have.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By E. Gouveia Miner on September 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a beautiful book, one in which the author goes beyond her river journey to do some soul-searching into her own truths. Patricia tells the story of how her adventurous side comes alive through one Grand Canyon trip, motivating her to abandon her corporate urban life in NYC for the wild rivers of the American West. The book details the pinnacle of her river experiences, a solo journey through Grand Canyon, with insight into the core of who she is and what the rivers have helped her become.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By lonebeaut on December 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
I'm not a rafter, and have no particular interest in rafting, but this book somehow captured my interest and I read it in a couple of hours. Patricia has a poetic way of writing about nature and her adventures rafting over the Colorado, and she takes the reader along for the ride. I admire her greatly for her courageous decision to go it alone (at least most of the time) on a very hazardous journey. I hope she continues to write (and avoid that dreaded Secretaryville).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. L. Epstein on January 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
"Patch" will sweep you up and take you with her on a many-hued journey, describing not only the descent of the canyon, its beauty and natural history, but the navigation of her own fears and joys. It is beautifully written and well-balanced, never dragging or wallowing, but always energetic and hopeful. Its only fault was in ending all too soon.
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