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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
30 years ago my wife gave my son and me a trip down the Grand Canyon in a dory. Over the years, I've traveled extensively in over 100 countries and on all of the continents. That Grand Canyon boat trip was one of the greatest travel experiences of my life.

This book captures all of the thrills, excitement and history of that wonderful experience. We had five guides on the trip, all of whom were extremely knowledgeable and at night we sat by the campfires and learned about many of the stories contained in this account.

In many respects, I was torn over leaving the canyon. Except that I had a wife and two little kids, I would've loved to sign on as a guide on the river trips. Had I taken the trip before I was married, I really believe I might have ended up a River Rat on the Colorado River.

The book joins the other great Grand Canyon books in my library:

The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons (Penguin Classics); who can ever forget a one-armed war hero hanging from a tree branch over the raging river -- did they really think they could run a railroad down that massive gorge?

Grand Obsession: Harvey Butchart and the Exploration of Grand Canyon, an obsessively grand account of the treasures and the appeal of this magical place: pink rattlesnakes, busy beavers, thunderstorms whose rain evaporates before it hits the ground, a river that gets stronger and stronger upstream as it flows down the canyon at Separation Point (it evaporates as it flows), perfect little gardens, one after the other, as one ascends or descends the trails, and much, much more.

The Man Who Walked Through Time: The Story of the First Trip Afoot Through the Grand Canyon, by Colin Fletcher, the man who introduced me to backpacking and hiking in general and who has furnished us with the wonderfully practical The Complete Walker IV. My favorite Fletcher tale: he was lazing about in bed with a young lady in a motel, and she formed a tent with her feet: "Ah, look, we are camping out."

There is a long extract from this book at the "Outside Magzine" website; this extract will give you a flavor of the book itself:

"That spring and summer, the river was especially furious, unpredictable, and deadly. Massive, rapid snowmelt from an epic western winter was straining the capacity of Glen Canyon's mammoth concrete arch dam, completed in 1966, which regulated the flow of water into the Grand Canyon. By early June, Glen was holding back the runoff from 108,000 square miles, a region that included four western states. Failure of the dam's enormous spillway tunnels was a serious possibility; to prevent it, federal officials took a series of extraordinary measures, at one point increasing the release of water to 92,000 cubic feet per second, the biggest torrent the canyon had seen in 25 years. But the runoff was something else, too: a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience, in the most direct and visceral way imaginable, the ancestral majesty of what was once the wildest river in America.

"The central figure in this escapade was Grua, a 33-year-old boatman who worked for the revered founder of Grand Canyon Dories, Martin Litton. Grua, who died in 2002 at 52, was the ultimate river rat, a compact, supremely fit man with an eccentric streak that was balanced by an encyclopedic knowledge of the mysterious physics of the Colorado's notorious rapids. Before his death, he gave a series of interviews to a friend and fellow guide named Lew Steiger, who was able to record Grua's memories of the speed run and his impressions of the men he rowed with."

This wonderful account of the Colorado River and the dories and the people who have enjoyed the experience so much brings all those memories flooding back.

Read this fine book and get a glimmer of the magic that resides in the Colorado River.

Robert C Ross
May 2013
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I cannot put this book down. Fedarko's book isn't a look at the Colorado river from atop the rim of the Grand Canyon, it places you at the helm of a dory, you feel the rush of every passing rapid, and pause to marvel in every eddy. I'm thoroughly enjoying this read.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This is a wonderfully written story of the river guides' life on the Colorado River and the equally important story of Glen Canyon Dam. I lived the story of my husband's experiences at Glen Canyon Dam in the summer of 1983, never knowing the story of Kenton Grua and his colleauges and their scary river run downstream of the dam. Kevin has brought the two stories together in a beautifully written and interwoven story of the human experience to overcome life's challenges from the two opposite perspective of those who love the open river and those who desire to control the river for beneficial uses. Kevin does an excellent job of representing both perspectives with respect and dignity. Once opened, this is a hard book to close.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The Emerald Mile is a stunning history of the Colorado River--a piece of history flowing through the Grand Canyon, inhibited only by the Glen and Hoover dams, bookends to a monstrous and terrifying natural wonder. Fedarko captures the allure of the river as he shares in brilliant detail its wildness, beauty, and power. There are a few authors who can capture life within the stories of history, and Fedarko is one of them, making the Colorado real and alive to those who have never experienced it. Even if you don't like history or whitewater or adventure, this book will enthrall you with the sheer power of its words. When you finish, you may find that you too, like Grua and the hundreds of other river runners whose stories form the contents of this book, are entranced by the wonderful monster we call the Colorado River.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I may sound biased, but I know several of the people in this book so I was impressed with Kevin Fedarko's descriptions and his ability to capture their personalities. His thorough research on every aspect of the story is remarkable, and yet he presents it in a way that entices and captivates the reader. Once you start reading this story, you will not want to put down the book!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I have read "a few" books on the Grand Canyon over the decades, and this one is at the very top of the list. It's hard to tell you how much I enjoyed every word. Don't know if I am biased because I love rowing wooden boats through The Canyon, but I would hope my appreciation for amazing writing talent trumps that. The enjoyment I have experienced from this extremely well crafted work of art is off the charts! Wow!

We as a family often read books aloud to each other. When we were doing this with "Emerald Mile", we found that we had to pause often and just absorb and relish in the incredible magic of the words that had just transpired. Descriptions of "floating mandolins" in tune with "the harmonics of the river" and on and on....just pure delight to visualize! I love the description of the feeling of the connection of a wooden boat with water....things that an author could only know from years of being with and dreaming about the boats.

You don't have to be a river person to enjoy this work, as the words flow just as beautifully as a river itself. Kevin Fedarko's dedication to and love for the subject is clear and truly amazing!

Mike Martin
Grand Canyon private dory boatman
admirer of outstanding writing
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
After reading the preview of this book in Outside magazine, I had to read the rest. Great story--it is a nice blend of Grand Canyon history, river guide legend and folklore, and an incredible true story of Kenton Grua's obsession with breaking the speed record on the Colorado through Grand Canyon. For anyone going on a GC river trip--add this to your must read list.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I have never read writing like Kevin Fedarko's. His ability to pull you into a tale, and his playfulness and mastery of language, is second to none. When he was writing for Time Magazine about Serbia, I didn't even have to look at the byline to know it was him.

I went to the book reading in Tempe at Changing Hands Bookstore. Even more interesting than the actual ride down the flooding river was the narrative about the Glen Canyon Dam and what happened when all the water arrived. Apparently Barnes & Noble won't be carrying this book, which is too bad, because it is a winner!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I was fortunate to do a trip with GC Dories back in the early 1980s. The leader of that trip was Rudi Petschek, just a year or two off having done this insane stunt. During calm stretches in the Canyon, Rudi would talk about this little adventure and I was thinking at that time that this would make for an exciting book. Fedarko has produced that book. It is a rousing narration about 3 supremely confident and competent boatmen who decide to tackle a quest for the fastest time traversing the Grand Canyon by boat when the conditions of the river were such that the record was achievable. Of course, it was totally illegal but that didn't stop them for a second because it was unlikely that this run would ever be possible again. Rowing flat out, they blasted though rapids they knew very well, rowing at night by the full moon, and trading off rowing duties frequently. Unfortunately, the high water made conditions at the notorious Crystal Rapids impossible but, being out of contact, they didn't know this and hit the rapids at full speed, tossing their boat and themselves through a washing machine. Very luckily, they survived, gathered their boat, equipment, and themselves, and finished the run with the record.

All in all, a great book about a great adventure by three wild and crazy guys.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
A cousin gave me a copy of this book last fall. It is quite literally one of the best books I have ever read. I live in Arizona and The Grand Canyon has always been a special mystical place for me. I have not run the river, but have hiked there many times. Kenton Grua is/was my cousin. I miss him still and thank Fedarko for teaching me things about him that I did not know. Kenton truly was a free spirit and the family all have great stories about him. This amazing river run was always a part of those stories and Fedarko has truly captured Kenton's essence. The two tales (river run vs the damn dam) are so well told and so cleverly interwoven that I was hooked from the very first page. Kevin paints the story so entertainingly that when I finished, I was amazed at what I had learned about history, water, dams, dorys, The Canyon, the Colorado River and, of course, Kenton. I will be giving this book to all my favorite people and I have been recommending it to everyone I know. Thank you Kevin Fedarko! PS Now I want to read more of Kevin's work.
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