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  River running on the Colorado through the Grand Canyon would’ve been replaced by “Reservoir Running in Pontoons,” as most of the Grand Canyon would’ve been hundreds of feet under water.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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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