Experience the Grand Canyon From River to Rim With the Washington Center’s Adventure Series

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Visited by nearly five million people each year, the Grand Canyon is instantly recognizable whether you’ve seen it in person or not. At 277 miles long and 18 miles wide, this multicolored desert chasm is an iconic part of the American landscape and globally considered one of the wonders of our natural world. But some folks aren’t content with just gazing down from a visitor center or officially designated viewpoint. Author Kevin Fedarko and National Geographic photographer Pete McBride hiked 750 miles end to end, not rim to rim, exploring the entire canyon on foot over the course of a year. Fedarko will present their journey at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts Adventure Series Into the Canyon: Between River and Rim.

Washington Center for the Performing Arts
On Friday, October 27, come experience Fedarko’s storytelling and McBride’s amazing photography at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Olympia. Photo credit: Pete McBride

Contemplate the Value of Wild Spaces with Adventure Writer Kevin Fedarko

More people have walked on the surface of the moon than have completed the treacherous journey from end to end of the Grand Canyon. Fedarko and McBride hiked on goat trails and slot canyons in freezing snow and blinding sunshine to join those elite, intrepid few.

Fedarko will be at the Washington Center on Friday, October 27, sharing “the story of cutting a transept through the single most iconic landscape feature in this country,” he says. “The Grand Canyon is instantly recognizable and represents who we are as Americans. But the story of that place involves more than just driving up and looking in. The average person spends only 20 to 40 minutes looking, we spent a year.”

This type of in-depth – pun intended – reporting is nothing new for Fedarko. He has dedicated the last two decades to writing about adventure, conservation and exploration from the Grand Canyon to the Himalayas, the Horn of Africa to the Colorado River. His book “The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon” won the National Outdoor Book Award and the Reading the West Award, was a finalist for a PEN Literary Sports Writing Award, and the Banff Mountain Book Award and became a New York Times bestseller.

Washington Center for the Performing Arts
Adventure writer Kevin Fedarko and National Geographic photographer Pete McBride spent a year hiking end to end – not rim to rim – of the Grand Canyon. Photo credit: Pete McBride

Bringing the Wild and Wonderful Grand Canyon to Olympia’s Washington Center

McBride and Fedarko carefully and artistically documented their rugged adventures, and Fedarko can’t wait to share it with the Washington Center’s audience. The trip spawned a lecture tour, documentary film, two photo books, and the narrative book Fedarko hopes to publish in May 2024. Olympia’s October show is in a lecture format accentuated by Pete McBride’s stunning photography. Then it’s back home to Arizona, his writing desk and the rigors of final edits before publication.

Though Fedarko had never visited Olympia before, his daughter attended Western Washington University, and the entire family fell in love with Western Washington. “It’s a great family treat visiting from the desert to arrive in the Pacific Northwest,” he says.

An experienced speaker, Fedarko has spoken to groups and audiences of all sizes, including large lectures of 5,000 at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall. “But recently,” he says, “I’ve been visiting small, local museums scattered over the west like the High Desert Museum in Bend. I find myself connecting most meaningfully there, where people bring their families and are in love with the landscape and deeply enamored with the stories of the American West.” He looks forward to his stop at the Washington Center and a chance to share that passion with local residents and visitors of all ages and backgrounds.

Washington Center for the Performing Arts
More people have walked on the surface of the moon than have hiked the Grand Canyon from end to end. Come experience this journey in all its majesty. Photo credit: Pete McBride

Travel the American West Without Packing a Single Suitcase

The Center’s Adventure Series—Into the Canyon: Between River and Rim, takes place at 7 p.m. on Friday, October 27. You can buy tickets online by calling 360.753.8586 or at the box office. They’re open from noon until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday or two hours before any event. Questions? Email boxoffice@washingtoncenter.org for details.

When his new book is released, you’ll find details and purchase options through Simon & Schuster or, Fedarko hopes, “at any of your neighborhood bookstores.” While you’re waiting, fill the time at one of the Washington Center’s other amazing events. Magic shows, silent movies, stars of stage and screen, improv, comedy and even the majestic Masterworks Choral Ensemble, there’s sure to be something that’ll engage mind, spirit and imagination.

Who knows? You might even find yourself planning a trip to the Grand Canyon with your family. With eight visitor centers and contact stations, 595 miles of trails, amazing animal life (including 30 exotic animals, eight endangered or threatened species and nearly 600 varieties of birds, mammals and fish), plus the magnificent Colorado River, it’s the ultimate escape. Bring the new book to read on the way, then get ready to gaze Into the Canyon: Between River and Rim yourself.

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