A Journey Through the Grand Canyon With Pete McBride and Kevin Fedarko

April 1, 2024

Award-winning National Geographic photographer, writer and filmmaker, Pete McBride and adventure author of The New York Times bestseller, “The Emerald Mile,” Kevin Fedarko will close out the 2023-24 Viewpoint Speaker Series in its first year. Having both established successful careers spanning more than two decades, Pete and Kevin are excited to share their tales of hiking the Grand Canyon with audiences at your Fox Cities P.A.C. Before attending their upcoming speaker event, Into the Canyon: Exploring a National Treasure on April 30, 2024, learn more about these adventurers, their careers, and the incredible trek they made through one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World, covering more than 750 miles across more than 100 days.

My favorite part of the hike occurred each day just before sunset when it was finally time to stop walking. It was also the hour when twilight stole over the canyon, turning the sky indigo and the cliffs purple before surrendering to the blackness of night and the ocean of silver stars.
Kevin Fedarko - Adventure author

Pete has spent more than 20 years honing his self-taught skills as a storyteller from photography to writing, filmmaking to public speaking. His dedication has paid off, sending him on assignment to more than 75 countries for the National Geographic Society, Smithsonian, Google and The Nature Conservancy. “I carry with me a deep level of humility that wild places have taught me and how small they can make us feel, in a good way,” Pete commented.

Kevin has also spent the better part of 20 years writing about adventure, exploration and the Grand Canyon, sharing much of his work as an editor and later as a freelancer at Outside Magazine. His book, “The Emerald Mile,” explored the secret world of the Grand Canyon in a true adventure tale. Readers see the natural beauty in our world through Kevin’s writings in many notable publications, including National Geographic, The New York Times and Esquire.

Hiking the Grand Canyon
Inspiration to make the hike struck when Pete was discussing the issues the Grand Canyon was facing with the park’s long-time rangers. “It’s an extreme hike that very few people have made, and it became something of a personal challenge, but really, it was a way to talk about the park itself,” Pete said. Kevin added, “My decision was made when Pete came to me with the harebrained idea that we set out to traverse the canyon, on foot, with little preparation and virtually no training. Against my better judgment, I was drawn in by the idyllic (and wildly dishonest) portrait of what the journey would be like and agreed to come.”

This extraordinary hike required immense preparation. Pete trained heavily for the undertaking, setting the route and spending weeks taking a minimalist approach for food, gear and resupply packages. The biggest challenge was finding water in the desert, needing a gallon/day per person. “Often, the terraces we were traversing were thousands of feet above the river that runs along the bottom of the canyon,” Kevin shared. “Survival depended on finding small pockets of rainwater or snowmelt – puddles, really – that would often evaporate after a few days.” With water in scarcity, Kevin and Pete made sure that they were never too far from their last water source.

Searching for water across challenging terrain was completely worth it when taking in the views that make this iconic canyon so grand. Both Pete and Kevin observed the silence as a precious and overlooked treasure. “The utter stillness reigns over most parts of the canyon,” Kevin reflected. “It sets up a vivid contrast with the noise that surrounds us almost everywhere else, and it ushered in a tranquility and an inner calmness that I haven’t experienced elsewhere.” Though the stillness was ever present, Pete noticed how full of life these wild spaces are. “They’re living classrooms on natural systems, human history and biodiversity, giving us perspective and teaching us humility.”

Aside from the visual beauty, the silence in the canyon was like nothing I had ever experienced. That quietude allowed us to hear a whole tapestry of wildlife sounds — the brush of bat wings in the morning over your head, and the clatter of sheep hooves on the rock across the river.
Pete McBride - Award-winning National Geographic photographer, writer and filmmaker

Sharing Their Story
Since their journey of a lifetime, Pete and Kevin have shared their experiences and written books including Kevin’s book “A Walk in the Park: The True Story of a Spectacular Misadventure in the Grand Canyon” (to be released on May 28, 2024) and Pete’s “The Grand Canyon: Between River and Rim” which was shortly followed by the 2019 film, “Into the Canyon.” Both books, in addition to two others, will be available for purchase and autographs in the Main Lobby immediately following Into the Canyon: Exploring a National Treasure. “I hope that our work reaches a wide spectrum of audiences, young and old, reminding them that there is emotional impact in old-fashioned, live storytelling, something we have done for thousands of years as human beings,” Pete shared.

It’s my hope that people emerge with a heightened appreciation for the magic and the fragility not only of this one park, but all national parks — and with a renewed awareness that these wild spaces represent some of the finest parts not only of America itself, but what it means to be an American.
Kevin Fedarko - Adventure author

Audiences can expect a look into Pete’s book, “The Grand Canyon: Between River and Rim,” as well as a combination of stunning photographs and videos with the friendship between Pete and Kevin. “It’s our intention to raise awareness about the challenges of our freshwater systems like the Colorado River,” Pete commented. “I also hope people will have a fun, entertaining night full of laughter and inspiration. We are looking forward to our visit!”

The Viewpoint Speaker Series is a Changemakers Production.

About the Changemaker Speaker Series
Presented nationwide, The Changemaker Speaker Series is a highly curated touring program of thought leaders, celebrated explorers, award-winning journalists, photographers and filmmakers, innovators, and artists who are actively engaged in creating a better tomorrow. One by one, they are striving to solve big problems, inspire environmental stewardship, document the world around us, and bridge the distance between us. Join these changemakers in dynamic presentations that combine expert storytelling with riveting footage and imagery, prompting thought-provoking conversations about our world. Learn more at www.changemakerspeakerseries.com.

Written by Philomena Dorobek, Brand Storyteller,
Fox Cities Performing Arts Center