Old-School Grand Canyon Descent

By Bryan Smith.

The Grand Canyon is one of those musts that sits on top of just about any adventure’s bucket list. Three hundred miles of river where cell phones don’t ring, e-mails sit on a server until you return and the daily rituals of river life take over.

Photo by Bryan Smith. Courtesy OutdoorResearch.com

For seasoned whitewater experts, it can get the adrenaline glands pumping in the big rapids of Granite Gorge, but more importantly, the river just becomes a way of life for 20-plus days. The modern way is to push rubber rafts through “the ditch,” but back in the 1860s, John Wesley Powell took a leap of faith when he ventured into the unknown with a team of nine mean and wooden boats that were questionable at best for the task ahead.

Last December, my phone rang—it was producers from the BBC and Discovery asking me if I would be interested in being part of a unique expedition taking replica Powell boats from Lee’s Ferry to Lake Mead.

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Photo by Bryan Smith. Courtesy OutdoorResearch.com

I’m not sure there was even a pause before I said yes. It sounded epic, challenging and unique. It was a river I knew, but with boats I knew nothing about. Six months later we pushed off from Lee’s Ferry with all the food we needed for 21 days, a few canvas tarps and nine men I had never met before.

Photo by Bryan Smith. Courtesy OutdoorResearch.com

The next three weeks would forever change my appreciation for the Grand Canyon and strengthen my respect for what Powell achieved on his first descent of the Grand Canyon on 1869.

Photo by Bryan Smith. Courtesy OutdoorResearch.com

Reblogged from Outdoor Research Verticulture.

Bryan Smith is an award-winning filmmaker, expedition kayaker and Outdoor Research Ambassador based out of Squamish. His first documentary, 49 Megawatts, received acclaim both for its amazing kayaking footage and insightful exploration of the controversy over British Columbia’s river-based energy production. An online version went viral and led to two-feature length sea kayaking films. His work has appeared at numerous film festivals across the world, including the prized Banff and Telluride Mountain Film Festivals. In the past few years, Bryan has built on his adventure film roots and developed a strong reputation in both TV documentary and commercial cinematography. In 2010 Bryan earned a National Geographic Expedition Grant for his work in Kamchatka, Russia, and launched into digital media co-producing and directing The Season web TV series. Most recently he co-produced and directed The Man Who Can Fly, a 60-minute special for the National Geographic Channel Explorer series.​