Boats Featured

Summer reading: 'The Emerald Mile'

Our beloved Colorado River has been on my mind a lot recently. Low water, rising temperatures and new fishing restrictions have caused me to reflect on years past.

While conditions may seem dire and it’s easy to get caught up in being borderline angry about the state of water in the West, I think now might be an appropriate time to grab a comfy spot outside and revisit an instant classic.

The Emerald Mile, written by Kevin Fedarko and released in the spring of 2013, should be on every boater and river lover’s shelf. I’m personally addicted to books like these because they’re easy to read almost anywhere and give me perspective of what it must have been like well before I picked up my first pair of oars.

I’m certain there are thousands of books, probably many more, that detail historic river trips down some of the West’s most iconic rivers but Fedarko delivers his words in a way that transports you right to the scene and practically makes you feel the tension and excitement of this record-breaking dory trip down the entire length of the Colorado River from Lee’s Ferry to Lake Mead in the spring of 1983.

“In the spring of 1983, massive flooding along the length of the Colorado River confronted a team of engineers at the Glen Canyon Dam with an unprecedented emergency that may have resulted in the most catastrophic dam failure in history. In the midst of this crisis, the decision to launch a small wooden dory named “The Emerald Mile” at the head of the Grand Canyon, just fifteen miles downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam, seemed not just odd, but downright suicidal.

The Emerald Mile, at one time slated to be destroyed, was rescued and brought back to life by Kenton Grua, the man at the oars, who intended to use this flood as a kind of hydraulic sling-shot. The goal was to nail the all-time record for the fastest boat ever propelled—by oar, by motor, or by the grace of God himself—down the entire length of the Colorado River from Lee’s Ferry to Lake Mead. Did he survive? Just barely. Now, this remarkable, epic feat unfolds here, in The Emerald Mile.”

I’d love to hear other suggestions of classic boat books that are on your shelves for future reviews. Leave a note in the comments or send us a note on our social channels.