So this week, I am at the Grand Canyon with my family, and with any luck (and probably some blood, sweat, and chip drink), Hilary and I will have done a big-ass run there by the end of the week. But before we left, I started running out of time to collect links for this Friday’s newsletter (sometimes they take me 4-5 hours), so I thought, you know, how about a collection of Grand Canyon links? With one exception, all these are things I’ve written, or worked on in some capacity. I am pretty sure no one besides my mom has read/viewed all of them so hopefully there’s something in here that’s new for you.
The Important Places, 2015: This one is really my friend Forest’s story, and he had a huge assist from our friend Sinjin Eberle at American Rivers, and Dan and Dana and the folks at Gnarly Bay. My memory of my actual contribution to this project is very hazy, but I sure didn’t do too much, besides introduce Forest to Sinjin, who was looking for river stories to support. It’s going to be a decade old in not too many years here, but I still think it hits home. (video)
Forest was nice enough to invite me on the 2013 Grand Canyon trip that partially inspired The Important Places, and I wrote about it in a couple places (including a story about bouldering down there that Red Bull published, but I guess deleted, although Forest’s photos are still up here). I haven’t made it back on the Colorado River for another trip since, but I published this story in 2020, when I was looking back on 12 of my favorite adventures ever—including our 28-day Grand Canyon trip was a no-brainer.
In 2015, my friend Sinjin also convinced Ace Kvale and myself to backpack down the Walter Powell Route to the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers, which was then being threatened by a company who wanted to build a gondola all the way from the rim to the river (actually, they probably still want to). I wrote a short piece about what I was thinking, sitting on a rock down there looking at the rivers, and I still believe it.
Also in 2015, I got to meet Kevin Fedarko, who wrote The Emerald Mile, the story of the 1983 speed record on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, and one of the best adventure books ever written. On a raft trip on the Gates of Lodore, Kevin told me the story of his career and how that book came to be, and I thought it was so good I interviewed him about it for The Dirtbag Diaries later that year.
I ran the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim in April 2018, and I wasn’t expecting any sort of big story out of it, but I had a blast writing a bunch of scenes from the day, which, if you’re like me and not that fast, is a very long day. It includes snakes falling from the sky. OK, one snake, falling from above, not exactly the sky, but wow.
Back in 2008, I convinced my friend Jarrett, who was then living in Chandler, Arizona, and had recently completed treatment for Stage 3 lymphoma, that hiking down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back was a great way to celebrate being cancer-free. It was not at all, but we survived, and ten years later, he had forgotten how painful it was, but was also still cancer-free, so he wanted to go back. Since it was his idea this time, absolving me of all guilt and/or liability, I said yes, and well, here’s how it went.
In January 2017, another group of guys (The USA Men’s Rafting team) decided to take a shot at the Colorado River/Grand Canyon speed record, and Forest and the Gnarly Bay guys asked if I wanted to help make a film about it. I was a bit more involved with this one, doing some production, figuring out which restaurants we should hit, and interviewing everyone. I have a distinct memory of sitting in a chair in front of some cliffs near Lee’s Ferry, peppering Brian Dierker with questions but mostly just handing him beers to keep the pure gold coming out of his mouth. And then of course we chased the raft team around a snowy Grand Canyon, in cars, and they even let me operate a camera, although none of the footage I shot was used, and honestly, I don’t even know if there was a memory card in the camera, but I had fun. And I think the movie came together pretty well.
Also: I took my mom down to Phantom Ranch on her first backpacking trip ever for her 63rd birthday in 2013, and I wrote a short essay about it. At the time, she mentioned that she would probably never be down in the Grand Canyon again, but of course we went back with my dad a couple years later, and then she went back with some friends this spring (when she was 72). She also said the most recent trip would be her last one, but then some guy in his 80s (or maybe his early 90s?) walked into the cantina at Phantom Ranch while she was eating dinner, so who knows.
Finally: I just like Billy Yang’s film about running the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim, aka the Double Crossing. I had nothing to do with this one, other than supporting Billy on Patreon with a couple bucks a month, but it’s really great. He’s pretty good at that sort of thing, making films about running.