PBS SHOW NEXT WEEK....Grand Canyon/women writers (MISC.)

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There's a PBS show on teevee this coming week (at least around this neck of the woods) about one of my favorite places on earth and one of my favorite things to do (not homesteading related, however...but a great change of pace from homesteading if you can get away for a bit!)

I have seen the book..it's got beautiful pictures...anyway it's called "Writing Down the River" about women rafting the Colorado thru the Grand Canyon. I just really wanted to share something related to an activity that I hold deeply and reverently in my heart.

Here's the copy from our local PBS station....(p.s., if you do watch it, please post your thoughts. And be kind...they aren't tuff grrrlls like us homesteader women! Thank you!!)


(from KCTS Channel Nine, Seattle website):

Writing Down the River

Two noted Washington state writers  naturalist and writer Ruth Kirk and painter and writer Barbara Thomas  participate in a very special journey of discovery in the new documentary, Writing Down the River, airing on KCTS Television Monday, August 7, at 9:00 p.m. Writing Down the River shares the experiences and reflections of four female writers-unlikely companions and even less likely adventurers-who raft together down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Kirk, Thomas, veteran journalist Linda Ellerbee and novelist Denise Chavez meet their fear, awe, glee and humility head-on as they renew and re-examine their relationships with nature.

Writing Down the River is inspired by Kathleen Jo Ryan's award-winning book, Writing Down the River: Into the Heart of the Grand Canyon (Northland Publishing), a collection of Ryan's photographs and essays by distinguished female writers (including the four featured in this program). Ryan, who also served as co-executive producer of the documentary, lives on Whidbey Island.

Each of the four writers confronts a struggle preparing to spend nine days rafting the Colorado River. As a naturalist, Ruth Kirk is at home in the outdoors but mourns the recent death of her husband, with whom she intended to make this trip.

"I'm from a family of black Southerners who I would describe as still-water people," says Thomas. "Where I come from, you sit still and fish. Going fast in a boat for any reason is just not done." Thomas' temerity is compounded by the fact that both her parents drowned in a boating accident.

Comments Chavez, "I may be the only Mexican rafting the Colorado. Everyone else is at Disneyland or in Las Vegas We are a people who want comfort, manageable thrills, self-made happiness."

For Ellerbee, a survivor of breast cancer and a city-dweller, the trip to the Grand Canyon fulfills her craving for natural beauty. "Every year, beauty becomes more important, some magic vitamin, a necessary tonic without which body and soul might wither. This is what the woods and, possibly, cancer has given me I come to the canyon thinking of it as woods with no trees," she says.

Over the course of the 226-mile journey, the women gain confidence in their skills, from pitching tents to paddling through rapids to righting a capsized raft. They hike through magnificent canyons, leap off cliffs into the icy river, coat each other with clay in mud pools and eagerly soak up the knowledge of their river guides. Reading from their journals or talking quietly as the sun sets, the four writers reflect on the power of their journey.

"What puzzles me is why floating this river should be so compelling," writes Kirk. "I have known awe elsewhere, sensed other shivers of reverence dance along my spine. Why now is the canyon living up to its reputation? What is its magic?"

-- sheepish (rborgo@gte.net), August 04, 2000


This sounds like its right up my ally!! Unfortunately I won't be able to watch it, but hopefully will record it. Thanks for posting it. I don't watch enough tv to know whats coming up so I would have missed it! Barb

-- BARB (WILDETMR@YAHOO.COM), August 05, 2000.


I did most of the Grand Canyon raft trip maybe 15 years ago. It is indeed an incredible experience. At one point were were drifting through a gorge with the river guide playing The Grand Canyon Suite. For a shorter trip you can do the upper half and hike out at Phamtom Ranch or hike down and join the trip there. Food was excellent. Water came from the Colorado, after the silt had settled overnight, then through a hand-pumped filter. After having done the Upper Gauley in WV several times, I was a bit disappointed in the rapids. Probably the difference is the Upper Gauley is a day-trip so if they flip the raft, no problem. On the Colorado the rafts were full of supplies and personal items and would be much harder to turn over so the guides just did the edges of big holes. If the program inspires anyone to take the trip the company I used was Arizona Raft Adventures out of Flagstaff. The Arizona Tourist Bureau should know of others. Avoid the big pontoon boats - get up close and personal with the smaller rafts. Some Vegas casinos offer day trips with a helicopter ride in and out of the canyon. However, it ain't cheap. If you want to go whitewater rafting in WV I recommend ACE Adventure Center in Oak Hill - 888-ACE-RAFT.

-- Ken S. (scharabo@aol.com), August 06, 2000.

As a young man I used to raft and kayak on the Hiawassee river every weekend and any other day I could find the time. I loved the thrill of class 4 and 5 rapids. I haven't done it in years but I will watch the show, sheepish. I've run many of the rivers in the U S including the Gaulley. I found the best water in my short career in New York. We rode the bubble(that is riding the water released from a dam) on the Indian river into the Hudson. This ride is the most awesome in america with breath taking beauty and lifetaking risk !! I heard of another river in Maine that I was going to try but never made it.

-- Joel Rosen (Joel681@webtv.net), August 06, 2000.


We've done the Grand in small rafts, big rafts, and have done the hike down the Bright Angel and rafted out (booked that one again next year, as we want to go to Bryce and Zion for part of our vacation), as well as full trips. Depends on who your guide is for the experience of the rapids (we got "lucky" and made some "11's" out of "7's"...ahem....)

While the river running is certainly a major part of the experience (the contrast of 48 degree water to 115 degree heat for one thing!), the side canyon hikes, the sunsets, the remoteness, the geology and the wildlife are incredible. So is the inevitable comraderie! The beauty of the whole place is so magnificent. We started our hike down to the river before dawn one morning and watched the sunrise over the canyon walls. I was in tears...so beautiful and spiritual...had to watch my step carefully!

So glad you have experienced this and/or other rivers. We ride with Diamond River Adventures out of Page, AZ. Wonderful, good people (as are most river folk). I think these folk are exceptional.

I will be taping this show and adding it to our GC film library.

Thanks for your replies! (btw, we are trying sea kayaking in October...! Anyone done that? Did you like it?)

-- sheepish (rborgo@gte.net), August 06, 2000.

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