The Emerald Mile Returns

May 17, 2018  |  Flagstaff, Arizona

How cool is this?

Sally and I had been in Flagstaff this morning running a few errands and we stopped at a gas station that we almost never use. As we were waiting to pull out into traffic, a truck pulling a dory (a wooden boat used in river trips) went by us. We see Dorys all the time here in Flagstaff, but this one is special, it’s the Emerald Mile, the boat used by Kenton Grua (who was also the first person to walk the entire length of Grand Canyon), Rudi Petschek and Steve Reynolds in 1983 to make the historic “speed run” through the Grand Canyon.

Having never seen this boat in person, I immediately changed plans and took off following her. I had to see this boat up close. We followed her to Grand Canyon Dories where I promptly introduced myself to the guy driving the truck pulling the Emerald Mile, his name is Justin. While Justin and I had never met before, it turns out that we did chat via email a few years earlier when he had expressed interest in participating in one of my Grand Canyon river trips. I asked Justin if Sally and I could photograph the boat, to which he very graciously gave the ok.

The infamous dory, Emerald Mile, with my Toyota 4Runner at the Oars boathouse in Flagstaff, Arizona.

It turns out that the Emerald Mile is returning home to Flagstaff after spending several years out of state, and she just got back in town. Sally and I probably spent 15 minutes with the Emerald Mile, just us and the boat, soaking it all in. I’ve read about the Emerald Mile in books, and all over the internet. I’ve listened to my friend Dave Edwards talk about the historic speed run and mega-flood of 1983 that helped to propel this boat and her crew into the history books with their record-setting time of 36 hours, 38 minutes, and 29 seconds to cover all 277 miles of Colorado River in Grand Canyon. But I still wasn’t prepared for how seeing this boat in person would affect me.

This morning began like most others. I got up early and checked emails, had breakfast, and then took care of a few things that had been sitting on my desk. Among the pile of paperwork on my desk was a letter from the Grand Canyon River Guides (GCRG) requesting donations for their Circle of Friends program. Before we headed into town, I jumped on their website and made a donation. I love what GCRG does, especially with regard to youth programs and getting kids on the river. Sally and I want to do whatever we can to help support their mission.

Below one of the oarlocks on the dory, Emerald Mile, is the time noted on a piece of paper for her historic 1983 run down the...

After we got home, I promptly jumped on the web to upload these photos and to share what we had seen. Wanting to make sure that I get my facts correct, I read up on the Emerald Mile and her crew again. While reading about Kenton Grua I learned that in 1988 he founded Grand Canyon River Guides and was their first president. How cool is that?!

Grand Canyon has been good to me. I love all things ‘Grand Canyon’ from the rim to the river. I will be forever grateful for all the opportunities, blessings and experiences we’ve had, especially this chance encounter with the Emerald Mile.

Posted in News and tagged Emerald Mile, Dory, Boat, 4Runner.