Located in the Great Hall on SUU's Campus
In 2004, 38-year-old writer Kevin Fedarko quit his job to spend his summers as a baggage boatman, rowing boats down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, to experience one of the most iconic places on earth and hear its stories. One of the stories stuck with him after his career as a boatman: Guide Kenton Grua’s idea to take advantage of the massive runoff of the spring of 1983, which created a flow of 70,000 cubic feet per second (it typically averages between 8,000 and 25,000 cfs), and make an attempt at a speed record-frantically rowing with two partners a 280-mile length of river in less than two days.
Fedarko’s 2013 book about the speed attempt, The Emerald Mile, took a Grand Canyon campfire story and made it into a classic of adventure literature, weaving together the stories of early Grand Canyon exploration (including the Powell expeditions), the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam, the history of river guiding in the Canyon, and Grua’s biography into a rich narrative. The book won a 2013 National Outdoor Book Award, made the New York Times Bestseller List in September 2014, and has put Fedarko in a role of defending the Grand Canyon as a sacred place. We chatted with him about the book, his career as a boatman, and the Grand Canyon.