The Emerald Mile

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Nick

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Thread starter #1
This is split from the Crystal Springs trip report: http://backcountrypost.com/threads/crystal-springs-and-beyond.4699/

Nick, this is downright awesome. Reading your trip reports in Glen Canyon will take on a new light for me. When I left for a trip this past week, I stopped at the bookstore on the way to grab a book that's been on my reading wish list; Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko. I'm only about 100 something pages in so far but I'm captivated. Not sure if you've read it or not. It's technically about the fastest run of the Grand Canyon during the 1983 flood, but it's about way more than that. It goes into great detail on the southwest as the last unknown American frontier and John Wesley Powell's epic first journey down the Colorado with his crew of 9 men, the creation of the Imperial Valley in CA, etc. Okay I'm for rambling, but let's just say after reading this, I'll be going back and re-reading al of your Glen Canyon TR's as well as many other people's Grand Canyon TR's with a renewed interest. Great report and pics. Standing safely in the middle of a violent flash flood must have been exhilarating. And if you haven't read Emerald Mile, pick it up. I think you'd really enjoy it.
Awesome, can't wait to discuss it!
I started into it on my last trip to Iceberg Canyon in June. Loved it but left it on the boat and that kept me from continuing. Just went and spent 5 nights out there and smoked through the whole thing. Awesome, awesome, awesome book. I would have liked a bit more about Glen Canyon and more science about a potential dam failure (although what was in there was better than anything I'd heard before, by far), but that's not so much what it was about, so I can't complain. Great book, thanks so much for the recommendation. I don't read a lot of books so take that as an extra big thanks. Everyone who has even the slightest interest in the Colorado River basin, Glen Canyon, Grand Canyon, John Wesley Powell, etc. should read it. I'm now more than ready to shell out thousands of dollars to float the Grand after doing so. 474 5-star reviews on Amazon don't lie. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/14...&tag=backcountrypo-20&linkId=NLJNNQC7GQMQSZ52

Here's the 'trailer' for those who haven't read it:
 

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Vegan.Hiker

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#2
I started into it on my last trip to Iceberg Canyon in June. Loved it but left it on the boat and that kept me from continuing. Just went and spent 5 nights out there and smoked through the whole thing...

Awesome! I just finished it about 2 weeks ago myself. Glad you liked it. I feel the same way about ponying up the money for a full length guided trip. I quickly priced it out while I was somewhere in the middle of the book and it looks like about 3k for a "baloney boat" (not a dory). So what you're saying is that you're going to coordinate a BCP Colorado thru-float for 2016? *nudge nudge wink*. I'd be the first to sign up and throw my deposit down. Interesting side note... I picked up the book on my flight out west 2 weeks ago to resume reading. I was just past the part about the Tour West fatality and the beginning of the speed run. Then I noticed while reading that the date of the speed run was June 25th... and it hit me... TODAY was June 25th. Not only was I about to finish the book on the speed run's anniversary, but it was the same day I was embarking on a trip to lay my eyes on the Grand Canyon for the first time. Obviously just a coincidence, but a cool coincidence nonetheless.

After seeing the canyon, I went back to the book in my tent one night to re-read the section in the beginning about when Cardenas and his men discovered the canyon by accident on their expedition. I could relate as my brain felt like it was struggling to compute the vastness and scale of what I was seeing. Reading that part a second time after actually seeing the canyon added a new level of absurdity that he thought the river “could be no more than 8 feet wide” and ordered 2 men to run down and “check it out” lol.

Thanks for posting the trailer. I hadn’t seen it (who knew they made trailers for books?) but it does a great job of encapsulating the vibe of the book.

What were your favorite parts? (maybe this should go in another thread?) One part that I liked was how after Grua finished the first ever lengthwise thru-hike, he went back to collect all of the honey jars because not doing so would have been “bad style”. Such a badass.
 
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Nick

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I moved this to it's own thread.

I'd be down for trying to get some folks in on a trip. That would be way better than just booking my own ticket, which is what I'm thinking of doing right now. What time of year? I was checking out the various guide shops last night. A baloney boat would definitely be fast and economical, but man, looking at those dories after reading that is soooo tempting! That could be a bit out of reach though.

Yeah, that thru-hike was impressive. While I loved all the stuff about the guides, dories, etc., I think my favorite parts were the historical sections. Specifically John Wesley Powell, The Imperial Valley and the dams, particularly the ones that almost got built right in the Grand Canyon. I didn't really know much about that, but I feel like Martin Litton should be celebrated right up there with Ed Abbey for what he did to protect the Grand and so many other places. I finally picked up Beyond The Hundredth Meridian today so I can learn a bit more about Powell and his journey.
 
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#4
I recently read the book as well and had a similar reaction.

Actually, it goes back about a month earlier. As I was walking through the Narrows in Zion I couldn't help but start thinking about doing a Colorado river trip. Reading this book did nothing but crystallize the idea in my head and I'm absolutely set. Not sure I'd want to do a dory...I don't swim well at all...but I wouldn't want a motorized boat either. Still messing with the idea....and realizing how hard it would be to get 9-14 days off work and convince my wife to do a 2 week river trip with me (I don't think a shorter trip would satisfy me, but I maybe am just being snobby!). Logistics TBD...

About the book, I too loved the historical sections about Powell's trip. I wasn't expecting that when I picked up the book and I really appreciated it. Reading about the fights over the dams also reminded me of the documentary Monmental about David Brower.

I especially appreciated the author's treatment of the Dam creators/workers and their conflict with the environmentalists. It would have been easy to make the engineers villains, but I thought he was really even-handed in his depiction of their work.
 

Vegan.Hiker

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#5
I'd be down for trying to get some folks in on a trip. That would be way better than just booking my own ticket, which is what I'm thinking of doing right now. What time of year? I was checking out the various guide shops last night. A baloney boat would definitely be fast and economical, but man, looking at those dories after reading that is soooo tempting! That could be a bit out of reach though.
I think we'd need to first find out how far in advance these things need to be booked. If we're actually talking about next year, I'd have to check with my wife about the timing of a trip to Europe she is planning for when she graduates. Other than that I can be totally flexible on time of the year. Of course I'd need to run a ballpark total estimate by her to get the nod as well but she's generally cool with these types of things.
I'm pretty sure the dory trips are so much more expensive than the motorized trips since they take like 3 weeks as opposed to 6 days or so. I hear you Mak, but If we're talking much more than a week it may also become more difficult for me (and I'm guessing others) to swing. I wonder if there's a discount if a single party fills an entire boat? It was such a tease being on the rim and not getting anywhere near the river. I need to go back!
 

Nick

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I've seen some companies advertise that if you fill the boat, the trip organizer gets it free. I imagine that discount could just as equally be averaged out though. How many people do those things hold though? Time to start doing some research. One thing I do know is that you should never plan a Grand Canyon trip in October simply because it would suck so bad to have it cancelled by another government shutdown which is once again looming for this fall.

Here we go, it's Western that does the 'fill a flotilla'. For a Sept trip, it would be 18 people:
http://www.westernriver.com/trips/grand6day/ratedetails.php

Depending on the price and how you do the math, that could be somewhere around $150-$175 discount pp.
 

Vegan.Hiker

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#7
I checked out the link and when you click on "Reserve Now" the only year you can select at this point is 2016. So when you were referring to Sept, it would have to be next Sept. I wouldn't be able to make this Sept anyways as I'll be in WY and all my vacation days this year are spoken for. Sept 2016I'd be open to tho. The site says April is a 18 person minimum as well. Weird how the rest of the months are 36 person minimum. I guess business is a lot slower in those shoulder months. Also, I can't speak for any others, but I'd be more than happy to concede my portion of the discount to the organizer as the website words it. Seems totally fair to me (see what I did there.. nominating you to organize). Now how do we gauge and drum up interest? We need about 15 others... 14 if @mak1277 is in. I have one person I can ask that I think may be game if this idea gets legs.
 
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Nick

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Yeah, I was thinking 2016. April could be nice too.

Let's start an actual meet up planning thread and see what kind of interest we can drum up. I'll post it later tonight.
 
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#10
2016 is a milestone anniversary year for my wife and I. Our big vacation will have to be more wife-friendly than a rafting trip. I'm just hoping I can make it something like "Alaskan cruise" and not "beach/spa".
 

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Nick

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FYI, waiting to start up that other thread until after I hear back from some inquiries.
 

Dave

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#12
FYI, waiting to start up that other thread until after I hear back from some inquiries.
Tentatively interested.

By the by, 100th Meridian is great but spends a lot of time talking about Powell's career in Washington. It gives you a better appreciation for the man, outside of his adventures. I think if you do a little reading on Stegner, you'll also learn he deserves an incredible amount of credit for legitimizing the modern environmental ethos.
 

Vegan.Hiker

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#13
...particularly the ones that almost got built right in the Grand Canyon. I didn't really know much about that, but I feel like Martin Litton should be celebrated right up there with Ed Abbey for what he did to protect the Grand and so many other places.
Getting back to the book discussion. I'm guessing that Litton isn't as celebrated as Abbey because of "how" he fought the building of the dams. Litton fought the dams in a political arena where even though his impact was huge, changing the system from the inside out isn't really the formula for building a following of devotees. Being a political anarchist through social activism and emotion laden writing (I don't mean that in a negative way) IS the formula for building a following and that is what Abbey did from what I understand about him, which admittedly isn't much since I haven't read his books, just anecdotes of it.

I especially appreciated the author's treatment of the Dam creators/workers and their conflict with the environmentalists. It would have been easy to make the engineers villains, but I thought he was really even-handed in his depiction of their work.
I totally agree. When he described what drove some of the hydraulic engineers and government officials, he often painted their agenda as equally as noble and worthy. That was what was so compelling; having two noble causes that were inherently opposed. I'm sure most here would lean towards the side of the conservationists, but the book reinforced that you need to still respect the merits of those in favor of progress.
 
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#15
I love this book and would love to get back on the river! most amazing trip of my life was 10 days to phantom ranch but I want to go the rest of the way!
 

Nick

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I think I'm going to have to bow out on organizing a possible group trip. When it comes down to putting that much cash on it, I think I'd rather put it toward gearing up and gaining experience to do the Grand on my own private permit someday. Might take some years to get there though. I just picked up a whitewater inflatable kayak to get started. Then maybe a raft or at least a rental or two next year to work my way up to it.

I talked to a few companies. Discounts were meager at best, but I did get info on availability and how they'd handle the group discount if anyone wants to try to pull something together.
 

Vegan.Hiker

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#17
Totally understandable. It's on my list for one day but admittedly next year would have been tricky with the vacation plans my wife has already made. It's been there for 6 million years so it's not going anywhere anytime soon.
 

Vegan.Hiker

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#18
I was watching some videos of dories paddling through Crystal and Lava Falls and this footage totally wowed me.

 

Nick

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So awesome! The size of that water. WOW! If I do ever end up doing a guided trip, I think it might be worth it to do the dory. That looks like SO MUCH FUN!!!
 

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