Through The Grand Canyon On A Reed Raft – A Virtual Presentation
John Wesley Powell and his crew made the first documented descent of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in 1869. But was it really the first run of the River? Both the Navajo and Hopi have legends of people traveling through the Canyon. The indigenous peoples of the Lower Colorado River have known how to raft the River for 100s or even 1000s of years using boats made out of common tule (Schoenoplectus acutus) reed, a surprisingly buoyant giant sedge found throughout the Colorado River basin.
Could a tule boat survive a descent through the Grand Canyon? That was the question Tom Martin and his high school friend Peter Brown set out to answer on a raft trip through the Grand Canyon in December of 2020. Their raft built of three bundles of 12-foot long tule had a seat for comfort. They set off from Lees Ferry for a 30 day float trip to Pearce Ferry, 280 miles down-river. The boat ran every mile and every rapid and proved that a tule reed boat can make the trip, which has implications for possible Colorado River travel sometime in the last several thousand years. This is the story of that trip.
This presentation is a fundraiser for the Santa Fe Watershed Association and 40% of all proceeds from Vishnu Temple Press books sold at the event will be donated to the Association.
Presenter Bio: Tom Martin and his wife Hazel Clark own Vishnu Temple Press in Flagstaff. He volunteers for the non-profit River Runners For Wilderness and Grand Canyon Historical Society. With a MS in Physical Therapy, he has authored award winning river related books on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon and walked the entire length of the Grand Canyon, Lees Ferry to Pearce Ferry. He has also recorded well over 300 oral history interviews of people who have a historical connection to the Grand Canyon region.