Join Kevin Fedarko, river guide and award-winning travel writer, in his first book, The Emerald Mile as he recounts Captain Kenton Gura’s epic adventure: the fastest ever boat trip recorded through the Grand Canyon. Catapulted by a dangerously high Colorado River, Gura and his two companions made it through some of the most ferocious whitewater the world has ever seen and straight into river rafting legend.
In the spring of 1983, a massive snowmelt – fed by the largest chain of El Niño superstorms on record and so massive that not even Glen Canyon Dam could hold it back – surged into Grand Canyon National Park, clawing boulders from the canyon walls and creating monstrous water features never-before seen in the 277-miles stretch of Colorado River.
Faced with catastrophic dam failure, engineers were forced to unleash the torrent barely restrained by the dam. Rangers banned all boat launches as they struggled to execute the largest helicopter evacuation in the park’s history for those left clinging to the wreckage of their three-ton motor boats at the bottom of the canyon.
One fatality was already on the books when under the moonlight, the three river guides crept into a small, hand-built wooden boat, a dory named the Emerald Mile, and set off from Lees Ferry on what would become the fastest ever trip — by paddle, motor or otherwise — through the greatest river canyon on earth.
While chronicling this record-setting feat, The Emerald Mile also gives readers insight into Captain Gura, already something of a mythic figure in the rafting world and a fearless boatman obsessed with the mysteries of the canyon.
His quest embraced not only the trials of the speed run but also the larger story of his predecessors: the men who had first discovered the canyon and pioneered its exploration, as well as those who waged a landmark battle to prevent it from being hog-tied by a series of massive hydroelectric dams—a conflict that continues to this day.
The saga of the Emerald Mile is a thrilling adventure, as well as a magisterial portrait of the hidden kingdom of whitewater at the bottom of the greatest river canyon on earth. This book announces Fedarko as a major writing talent and at last sets forth the full story of an American legend—the legend of the Emerald Mile.