Why We Do This – Running the Grand Canyon with Greg Hatten

 

 

Greg Hatten, river guide extraordinaire, in his wooden boat. Greg is also wearing a Pendleton shirt.

Hello from Greg Hatten

In honor of the Grand Canyon‘s 100th anniversary, we are rerunning some guest posts from our friend and favorite guest blogger, Greg Hatten. He has experienced the Canyon as few others have; from within his wooden drift boat, a replica of one of the boats that took to the Colorado River in 1964 to save the Grand Canyon from being turned into a reservoir. Enjoy.

March of 2014 was a deadly month in the Grand Canyon for river runners.   The water level was well below average and even the most experienced boatmen saw water dynamics they had never seen before.  Low water created new hazards – holes were deeper, drops were sharper, jagged rocks that rarely see sunlight punched holes in our boats and holes in our confidence.

An accomplished group of nine kayakers just a few miles ahead of us lost one of their team mates to the river below Lava Falls.  There was a another serious accident in the group two days behind us midway through the trip.

Some of our wood boats were damaged, a few of our rubber rafts flipped, oars and ribs and teeth were broken, a helicopter rescue was required for a member of our team on Day 4. After 280 miles and 24 days on the water, we reached the end of the Grand Canyon and all agreed we were ready to do it again…as soon as possible.

A rough and ready group of "River Rats," five men wearing Pendleton shirts, holding broken oars from their river running adventures.

 

Who are we and why do we do this???   

Greg Hatten maneuvers his way though churning rapids in his wooden boat, the "Portola."

We are a band of wood boat enthusiasts who came to the Grand Canyon in March to re-run a famous trip from 1964 with our wood dory replicas, our canvas tents and bedrolls, our Pendleton wool blankets, and a couple of great photographers to capture the adventure.

Relaxing at the river's edge: Greg Hatten and eight more river runners relax after a day on the river.

Fifty years ago, that trip played a crucial role in saving the Grand Canyon from two proposed dams that were already under construction.  If THAT trip had not happened, THIS trip would not have been possible and our campsites would be at the bottom of a reservoir instead of beside the river.  River running on the Colorado through the Grand Canyon would’ve been replaced by “Reservoir Running in Pontoons,” as most of the Grand Canyon would’ve been hundreds of feet under water.

Three beautiful wooden drift boats want in the shallows next to the Colorado RIver, in the shadow of the walls of the Grand Canyon.

We are celebrating the success of the trip of  ‘64 and paying tribute to those men who left a legacy for future river runners like us to run the big water of the Colorado through the Grand Canyon in river boats.  We are brought together by Dave Mortenson, whose dad was one of those pioneers.

The “Why”…

“Who we are” is easier to answer than “Why we do this.” There are moments on trips like these, when we are at the crossroads of chaos – where adventure and wonder intersect with danger and consequence – and the outcome is uncertain. THAT’s what makes it an adventure.  I can only speak for myself – but here’s my shot at answering “why…”

I do this because the Grand Canyon takes my breath away.  The first time I saw it from the bottom looking up, I fell in love with this place and was absolutely amazed by the size and beauty of the canyon.  Everything is bigger, deeper, taller, more colorful, more powerful, more everything than anyplace I have ever been.

Greg Hatten in the Portola, on still green waters of the Colorado River.

I do this because the Colorado River tests my physical ability as a boatman like no other river I have ever boated.  This is one of the most powerful rivers in North America and when that strong current bends the oars I’m rowing and I feel the raw force shooting up my aching arms and across my tired back, I’m electrified and anxious at the same time.

I do this because the rapids on this river test my mental ability as a boatman.  My friend and veteran Canyoneer Craig Wolfson calls it “Nerve.”  Scouting severe rapids and seeing the safest “line” to run is one thing – having the nerve to put your boat on that line is another.  Most of the difficult rapids require a run that puts your boat inches from disaster at the entry point in order to avoid calamity at the bottom.  Everything in your “experience” tells you to avoid the danger at the top – but you mustn’t.  Overriding those instincts and pulling off a successful run is a mental tug of war that is challenging beyond belief.

I do this because of the bonds we form as a team of 16 individuals working and cooking and rowing and eating and drinking and laughing together for 280 miles.  We problem-solve together, we celebrate together, we look out for each other, and we find a way to get along when every once-in-awhile the stress of the trip makes “some” of us a little “cranky.”   Sometimes, we experience the most vulnerable moments of our lives together.  These people are lifetime friends as a result of this adventure.

And finally – I do this because it brings out the best in me.  My senses are better, my mind is clearer, my body is stronger and I like to think I’m friendlier, funnier, more generous, and more helpful down in the Canyon.  It makes me want to be this open with people up on Rim when I get back to my regular routine.  It’s hard to articulate but for me, the place is magic.

Greg Hatten

Greg Hatten and five friends relax on and around two wooden boats on the banks of the Colorado River.

The Pendleton Grand Canyon blanket

See the Grand Canyon Pendleton blanket and throw here: PARK BLANKETS

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New Parks, New Cans – Pendleton and ROGUE ALES

Four cans of Rogue IPA on a Pendleton Chief Joseph blanket

Summer Brews

This summer is a fantastic time to celebrate your favorite National Park with Pendleton Pale Ale – now available in Crater Lake, Rainier, Grand Canyon and Yosemite park cans!

Wooden aging barrels with "Rogue" on them.

Our friends at Rogue have outdone themselves with this delicious brew.

Five cans of Rogue IPA on a Rainier National Park blanket.

America’s Treasures

So the next time you’re headed out for a picnic on your favorite national Park blanket, take along a crisp pale ale and raise a toast to America’s Treasures!

A six pack of Rogue IPA on a Crater Lake national park blanket.

Cheers!

National Parks Memories: Babies

National Park Memories

We are closing out this fantastic year of celebration with some more National Park memories. These two memories come from Pendleton employees.

The Grand Tantrum

Erin is one of our designers. She has this to say about this photo:

Although I don’t remember this, it is a popular story at family get gatherings. This is a picture of me at the Grand Canyon with my mother (Nancy) and aunt (JoAnn). I am recovering from a massive tantrum because my mother would not release me from her toddler hiking backpack. I really wanted to cross the guard rail to get a better look at the Grand Canyon! Obviously my request was not met and I went into a hysterical crying tantrum.

A 1980s photo of two women and a crying toddler at the Grand Canyon

Mt. Hood Moms

And, for our last post of the year, here’s a classic shot given to us by Robin, who is head of our bricks-and-mortar stores division:

Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood:  The year was 1957, I was 4.5 years old.  I was visiting my West coast grandparents from New York with my New York City grandmother, Rose Raskin in the Pendleton 49’er jacket, my mother, Mary Bonetta,  and little sister Hillary, age 2. I recall only the gift shop, where I was to receive a totem pole.  Who knew then I would work for Pendleton 45+ years later.  Wish I had that 49’er jacket!

A 1957 photo of a family at Mt. Hood's lodge

Two wonderful memories, two fabulous photos and two babies for the New Year.

Happy New Year from Pendleton Woolen Mills!

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Celebrating America’s Treasures with the #pendle10park Explorers

Calling All Explorers

Last year, we sent out a call on Instagram, asking for photographers to take our blankets home to their parks. We were overwhelmed with responses! After diligent review of well over a thousand Instagram feeds, we chose ten and called it good.

You’ve seen their work all year, but this video takes you on a tour of all ten parks, with a catchy banjo score that has us tapping our feet here at the office. So Happy Birthday to the National Park Service and thank you to our #pendletonparks explorers. You can see them all (and follow them ALL on Instagram) at the end of the movie.

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Pendleton for the National Parks

Pendleton Wedding Wayback: Bob and Melba Stork

Ed. note: We are closing Wedding Month here on Pendleton Threads with the Storks, whose Pendleton wedding story spans three generations, many decades of marriage and the Grand Canyon! Enjoy.

The Stork Story

Bob and Melba Stork were shopping in Pasadena, California on a spring day in 1951 when a store window with Pendleton shirts caught their attention. They looked at several patterns and decided on a red and green plaid as an engagement gift to each other.

Bob and Melba wore traditional bridal attire when they were married on October 27th, 1951, at St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Temple City, California.

Storks Wedding, 10/27/1951

The Honeymoon

After the wedding, they left for a honeymoon trip to the Grand Canyon, where they stayed in a cabin near El Tovar. Bob set up a tripod to capture a picture of them wearing their shirts as a newly married couple.

Storks honeymooning at the Grand Canyon

Anniversary Plans

Fifty years later, their twin daughters and their husbands organized a golden wedding anniversary celebration for the Storks, their family and friends at the Grand Canyon. This photo was taken near the spot where the first photo was taken; a short distance from their honeymoon cabin.

Storks Anniversary, 10/2001, at the Grand Canyon

The Storks wore their shirts as jackets many times over the years of their marriage. They have been part of travels throughout the United States, and Melba said, “(they) are as bright, fashionable and warm as they were when we purchased them over sixty years ago.”

A Traditions Carries On

Bob and Melba Stork made a gift of their Pendleton engagement shirts to their granddaughter, Lauren, and her new husband, Drew.

Lauren & Drew in her grandparents' Pendleton shirts
Lauren & Drew, Robert & Melba

Said Mrs. Stork, “Their wedding took place in Dallas, and all sixty of the invited friends and family enjoyed the weekend festivities.” Our congratulations to Lauren and Drew, and to Bob and Melba Stork. Sadly, Melba is no longer with us, though she is part of her family’s loving memories.

Thanks for making Pendleton part of your family traditions.

Pendleton Experiences in the Grand Canyon

A Natural Wonder

It’s one of the seven natural wonders of the world; 277 miles long and up to 18 miles wide, the Grand Canyon took millions of years to form and just keeps changing. The deepest point in the canyon is a mile deep. A mile. That’s 5,280 feet, in case you’ve forgotten. Yes, this is one heck of a canyon.

Close to five million people visit the Grand Canyon each year. They arrive by car, train and bus, and plenty of them come to stay for longer than an afternoon. The Park has many wonderful campgrounds, but read up on reservations, restrictions and costs. The key word to get the most out of the Grand Canyon is simply “planning.”

We asked some of our fantastic Pendleton people if they’d share their Grand Canyon experiences on the blog. They sent some beautiful photos, and some Pendleton employee park memory stories that illustrate how they took on the Canyon.

Phillip’s Story

Phillip shared his experience with camping on the North Rim:

A few years ago my family took a road trip to the Southwest and visited Bryce Canyon, Zion and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was an amazing family adventure.

Wiant Family at Zion National Park

When we arrived at the Grand Canyon and were setting up camp, we realized that my son Henry had forgotten to stow the crank that raises our tent trailer when we left our previous location (I think it was Zion). We polled all of the other campers and no one had a crank. Fortunately I was able to use a wrench to raise the trailer so we didn’t have to leave or sleep on the ground! 

The trip was definitely worth it.

Henry and VIolet stand at the North Rim.
Henry and Violet looking into the North RIm.

 

Annetta’s Story

Another Pendleton person, Annetta, has taken trips with her extended family to many of the National Parks.

Hiking with my son and our entire family, especially nieces and nephews, has bonded us through some unique experiences. The National Parks have been a big part of it.  Every get-together something comes up from one these trips, generating lots of laughter.

In 2004, we all went to the Grand Canyon. Me, my son, all my siblings and their kids hiked down Bright Angel trail to Phantom Ranch to spend the night.

Below: the kids on Silver Bridge crossing the Colorado to Phantom Ranch.

Kids at Silver bridge, Grand Canyon

We might be smiling, but it was 118 degrees down by the water that day, and we still had several miles to go. Brutal.

The group got ahead of me on the way to Phantom Ranch and because we were so close we didn’t follow our rule and give the last person in line (me) the second walkie-talkie. I missed the turn, ending up on Black Bridge. I yelled down at river rafters for directions. When I realized I’d gone a quarter mile in the wrong direction, the walls of the Canyon echoed with words that are probably not printable.

My son did come back to find me, and very relieved to see me, and not happy about backtracking. The hike is 12 miles each way! We all agreed that the dinner that night at the ranch was the best we had eaten in our lives. No doubt the hike had something to do with that.

Below, all of us at Phantom Ranch on the morning of hiking out.  It was a very quiet breakfast, as we were all thinking about that climb. But we made it!

A Family gathering at Grand Canyon Phantom ranch

After hiking out that morning my nephew took his pipes and played them at the canyon edge in the evening. Ah, the energy of youth. 

Kyle plays his bagpipes at the rim of the Grand Canyon

Which brings me to my best tip for hiking the Grand Canyon: Take teenagers along who can pack your extra water.

The only place in the world that you can get hiking sticks with Phantom Ranch burned into them is at the ranch itself.  The kids all still have theirs and use them to this day on other hikes with pride. When people ask about those walking sticks, the kids say casually, “Oh this? Yeah, I got it at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.”

Are you ready for your own adventures? We’d love to come along. And remember, your purchase of our National Park Collection helps support preservation and restoration of America’s Treasures.

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Taking a Blanket Home: Grand Canyon National Park and the #pendle10park Explorers

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The Grand Canyon Blanket Goes Home

We sent our Grand Canyon blanket home to Grand Canyon National Park with photographer Kristian Irey, celebrating 100 years of our National Park Service.

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Kristin’s thoughtful shots at the rim of this natural marvel are some of our favorites. And the Grand Canyon is one of the recipients of our fundraising efforts. All year, through sales of our own and collaborative National Park projects, we have been raising money to help restore the Grand Canyon’s train depot.

 

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The Front Door

The Grand Canyon Depot in Grand Canyon Village is the Park’s “front door,” used as a meeting place for adventurers for over 100 years. This National Historic Landmark is the Park’s most-photographed man-made structure.  Pendleton’s contributions will help improve accessibility and preserve the character of this National Historic Landmark.

According to the National Park Service, “Nearly 230,000 visitors per year arrive at the Depot via the Grand Canyon Railway, which is an important component of the park’s transportation system. Currently the Grand Canyon Railway, owned and operated by Xanterra Parks and Resorts, runs up to two trains per day to the park from Williams, Arizona – saving approximately 300 daily vehicle trips during the peak visitor season.” That is approximately 50,000 cars, trucks and campers that will not add wear, tear and crowding to roads leading in and out of the park, thanks to the train.

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Mary Elizabeth Jane Coulter

Before the railroad opened in 1901, tourists had to fork over $15.00 for a three-day stagecoach ride to see the Grand Canyon. Upon arrival, they were accommodated in tent camps, a situation that didn’t change until the Santa Fe Railroad hired architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Coulter to design six iconic buildings for the park, mostly on the South Rim.

  • Hopi House, 1905
  • Hermit’s Rest, 1914
  • Lookout Studio, 1914
  • Phantom Ranch, 1922
  • The Watchtower at Desert View, 1932
  • Bright Angel Lodge, 1935

Her work still stands today, having become an integral part of this vast, commanding landscape. You can learn more here: Mary Elizabeth Jane Coulter

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So put on your boots, hop on the train, and go. The Grand Canyon is waiting.

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Grand Canyon Park Series: SHOP Grand Canyon from Pendleton

See more work by our Grand Canyon #pendle10park explorer: 

Kristian Irey  

Instagram:  @kristianirey

 

Made in USA label with eagle for Pendleton