Read: River Notes

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Beauty and the beast. And don’t think for a minute I’ve missed the novelty of a man named Wade writing a book about a river. Nature lover or not, reading Wade Davis’s River Notes will illuminate, educate and inspire, and all in less than one hundred and fifty pages. This is no deep dive into the river, no pun intended, but more a casual yet impactful take on a river that is the absolute lifeblood of much of the Southwestern United States.

If any of you have peered down at the river from the great heights of the rim areas then you know that this particular view is unlike any other on the planet. And with it come a sense of the profound. Whether you are an adventure sports person running the river or even running the rim-to-rim trail or a geologist studying the cliffs or a birder counting swifts, this place is entirely unique.

This book is also a reminder of the pure insanity the American government and Bureau of Reclamation have inflicted on the river and the Grand Canyon area in general. Just remember this, if left to the US. Government, there would be no Colorado River, there would only be a series of lakes as byproducts of dozens and dozens of dams. Glen Canyon dam alone ruined what was considered to be the most beautiful place in our grand country. Add Hoover to the list and what we are left with is rapidly dwindling lakes that experts now think will never fill again.

Tick, tock, tick, tock. The author, Wade Davis, is a total doer and I’ve featured his books on this site several times. Everything I’ve ever read of his has been stellar. After reading River Notes I just texted a friend here in Santa Fe and said “Rim-to-rim, we leave your vehicle on one side and mine on the other, let’s do it.” Growing up where I did, when I did, and having parents who understood the critical importance of wild areas, I know if I am going to do this I need to do it now. And so do you. Get it, read it.

Comments 13

  1. Have to look for a used paperback… the kindle version is $19.95! Have you read “The Serpent and the Rainbow”? Hell yeah, this dude really is a DUDE!

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  2. Dan,

    Long time reader (since the days of smogranch), first time poster. I highly encourage a Rim-to-Rim. The Grand Canyon was the most majestic backpacking trip I’ve ever done. “Transcendent” is probably a better descriptor. We did a summer trip. Oppressive heat, hard nights, early mornings, deliciously cool creeks to enjoy in the afternoon, and an interesting clash of hiker preparedness to witness near the rim. I sincerely hope you’re able to make it happen.

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      Matt,
      That hike is on my list and high on my list. I’d probably do winter/fall/spring but whatever I can get I’ll take.

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  3. Dan,

    Long time reader (since the days of smogranch), first time poster. I would highly recommend a rim-to-rim. The Grand Canyon is the most majestic backpacking trip I’ve done. Perhaps “transcendent ” is a better descriptor. My rag-tag group did a late July push. Oppressive heat, early mornings, deliciously cool wading streams, and an interesting clash of hiker types near the rim. I hope you make the trip soon.

  4. Dan,

    Long time reader (since the days of smogranch), first time poster. I highly recommend a rim-to-rim. The Grand Canyon is the most majestic backpacking trip I’ve ever done. Perhaps “transcendent” is a better descriptor. My rag-tag group went in late July. Oppressive heat, early mornings, deliciously cool streams to wade in, and an interesting clash of hiker types near the rim. I hope you make it down there.

  5. Looks good. I can attest to the beauty of that river. Had a lot of good & exciting times in that cold water.

  6. Haven’t read it but I have been there. It’s much more than those calendar photos. Humans are opportunists and don’t have much taste for history.

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