Miles to go

Miles to go

The Emerald Mile’s record is still safe. Earlier this month, a team of rafters attempted to break the historic wooden dory’s speed record for an oar rig on the Grand Canyon. But, when the hybrid raft-atamaran reached Pearce Ferry on Jan. 11, 37 hours and 55 minutes after launching from Lee’s Ferry, it was an hour and 7 minutes off the Emerald Mile’s pace.

According to a story in Adventure Journal, the modern rig, an eight-person inflatable catamaran with outrigger oars, had one major disadvantage from the record-setting run in 1983. When the Emerald Mile set sail, flows were at an astonishingly thumpy 72,000 cfs. When the 40-foot cataraft launched, flows were at a comparatively anemic 14,500 cfs.

This wasn’t the first attempt for captain John Mark Seelig and much of his crew, many of whom are members of the U.S. Whitewater Rafting Team. Three years ago, they also attempted the record – and failed – in a similar craft. That time, Lava Falls claimed the crew, flipping the raft and causing a costly delay for repairs.

For the second push, the crew designed and built a custom cataraft, rigging it with six sliding-seat rowing setups similar to racing shells. It also came equipped with a steering oar, like sweep boats on the Salmon River. This time, they enlisted the help of veteran Grand Canyon guides Justin Salamon, Lyndsay Hupp and Omar Martinez to help navigate through the Canyon’s 130-odd rapids, most of which were run in the dark.

Although the nighttime run through Lava was spot-on, it wasn’t enough for the win. It was, however, a victory for Grand Canyon Youth. The trip raised more than $13,000 for the organization that provides river experiences to young people in the Southwest.

The overall speed record for all manner of craft on the Grand was broken in 2016 by none other than Durango native Matt Klema. An off-the-couch run by he and a group calling themselves “Team Beer” – armed with borrowed kayaks and a bucket of fried chicken – crossed the finish line in 35 hours and 5 minutes. However, like the chicken, victory was fleeting. Three days later, solo kayaker Ben Orkin, in a carbon-fiber sea kayak, beat their time at 34 hours, 2 minutes. Orkin still holds the record to this day.

Will the rafta-maraners try again?

Seelig confided that during the run, morale was low. “We’re yelling in the boat, ‘Screw this! We’re going to burn this boat!’” he told AJ.

But, there’s nothing like a hot shower, dry clothes and the light of day to change a river-runner’s outlook. “As soon as the sun came up, we all started talking about what could be different. I for one would be there in a heartbeat,” Salaman said.

To read more, go to adventure-journal.com.

Top Stories

Finding Kylo
10/22/2020
Finding Kylo
By Missy Votel

How to catch a husky? Trail cams, rotisserie chicken and lots of patience 
 

Read More
New school
10/15/2020
New school
By Missy Votel

9-R bond issue would address maintenance backlog, facility needs

Read More
Ballot cheat sheet: from Gallagher to gambling, we got the goods
10/15/2020
Ballot cheat sheet: from Gallagher to gambling, we got the goods
By Missy Votel

The breakdown on everything from bingo and wolves to taxes and a guy named Gallagher

Read More
A healthy outlook
10/08/2020
A healthy outlook
By Missy Votel

Southwest Health Alliance perseveres, announces new plan with 35% savings
 

Read More
Read All in Top Stories

The Pole

Club car
10/22/2020

Leave it to Mountain Village to come up with a novel solution to the er, novel coronavirus. The ritzy upstairs neighbor to Telluride has announce plans to refurbish gondola cars for socially-distanced dining in the Mountain Village plaza.

Revved up
10/15/2020

If you think town seemed strangely busy this summer despite a pandemic going on, you’re right. The Durango Business Improvement District recently released La Plata County sales tax numbers for July, indicated a big bump for local retail. 

A shot in the arm
10/15/2020

If you haven’t gotten your flu shot, now’s the time to belly up. San Juan Basin Public Health is hosting upcoming walk-up flu clinics open to the general public:  

The last run
10/08/2020

It’s time to hoist those tattered, duct-taped ski pants up the flagpole and run ’em at half mast. In case you haven’t seen the eulogies pouring out across mountainland, Powder is dead. Of course we’re talking about the iconic 48-year-old publication, revered as "the Bible" by ski bums and soul skiers for its exceptional photography, realistic reflection of ski-town life and endless pursuit of fresh tracks.

Read All Stories in the Pole