Faces of the Canyon – Meet Pete McBride


(mandolin music) I can barely hold the pick! (laughing) It’s f*#!ing cold! The wilderness here is richer, deeper and more remote than just about any wilderness in the lower 48. There are rangers that work here that have worked in Alaska that say it’s more wild here. When you are out in Grand Canyon you are out in the middle of nowhere. I was working on this Colorado River project, I had been down actually photographing the Hoover Dam. I was driving back and thought, “I should go check out the South Rim, I’ve never been there.” You kind of roll up to the rim and it’s going uphill so you can’t see the canyon and you think, “Where is this thing?” And then you get up and suddenly you’re breath is taken away and you think, “This is remarkable!” But then you think, “That’s too big, it’s too hard for me to comprehend what’s going on there.” So to get down in the puzzles of rock and water down there is I think a really interesting way to understand it, and then try to highlight and showcase how lucky we are to have a place like this. 6000 feet deep, 18 miles wide. It’s 277 miles long as the river flows. You can’t walk by the river because it’s sheer cliff. For every river mile you walk two and half hiking miles, so we ended up hiking roughy 750 miles. I knew I wanted to do this with another journalist, so I teamed up with my old friend Kevin Fedarko. I said, “Hey Kev, got an idea for you.” He said, “You’re nuts, there’s no way.” But he agreed and here we are, three years later and 750 miles under our feet. I went in with a little bit of attitude thinking, “It’s hiking… c’mon.” Classic, classic case of hubris, and it just beat me down, it beat both of us down and it beats everybody down at some points and reminds you how small you really are. 71 days, 8 pairs of shoes, 13 months, 4 sprained ankles, a case of hyponatremia, thousands of cactus injuries, 2 girlfriends. (laughs) You should probably leave that out. (laughs) What I went in thinking was that this place is huge and beautiful and awesome. I thought of it in visual terms. Now when I think of it the most powerful thing for me is auditory, it’s the silence. Pretty much wherever I’ve gone in most places the world is changing, and these places are going away. A place like Grand Canyon is a place of wilderness that isn’t filled with guard rails, it isn’t filled with trails. It still has the power whether you sit on the rim quietly, or you go down it on the river, or you’re crazy enough to walk 750 miles through it. But the beauty is you don’t have to do that, you don’t have to walk 750 miles through the place to be touched by it. I think that’s my goal is try to teach the next generation that there’s more beyond their screens. There’s some really cool things out there if you stop and pay attention.

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3 thoughts on “Faces of the Canyon – Meet Pete McBride

  1. His book on this trip – Grand Canyon, Between River and Rim is one of the best books because of all the wonderful photos of places that are so remote most of us will never stand in the same place as they did.

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