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Meet the Photographer Who Hiked the Entire Colorado River


Photographer Pete McBride has traveled around the world with his camera for over 20 years, but one of his most incredible achievements has been hiking the entire Colorado River, including through the Grand Canyon. Here’s a great 10-minute profile of McBride by Adorama Spotlight.

McBride’s career was born from a passion for adventure photography in his home state of Colorado, USA.

He soon realized that most of his work involved water in some way, and wherever he went he would meet people involved somehow with the precious commodity, whether that would be a family struggling to get enough water, or someone back-flipping into it.

“Water is just that one common resource that we all share,” says McBride.

Walking the length of the park is an arduous challenge — often leaving before dark to enable enough time to find water since much of the time the hikers traversed through cliff bands thousands of feet above the river.
Havasupai Tribal members perform traditional dances and songs in protest of the Canyon Uranium Mine on the south rim of Grand Canyon. “We are on the fronts lines of contamination if this mine leaks. It will contaminate our water and kill our people,” says Carletta Tulusi, a former tribal council member attending the gathering below Red Butte, the Havasupai sacred peak.

Inspired by his father’s encouragement, McBride undertook a 2-year-long project to document the Colorado River from source to sea. Except the river doesn’t go to the sea. It’s been “used up” that it just ends in the sprawl of a delta.

During his project, there was an attempt to revive the river by flushing water into it. McBride was the last person to kayak the Colorado River from source to sea, finding himself paddling through thick slush.

Jon Waterman, who paddled the entire 1450 miles of the Colorado, comes to the river’s unnatural end, two miles into Mexico, trapped in tamarisk and a cess pool of plastic, fertilizers, and mud. (He completed his journey on foot accompanied by the photographer). By the time the Colorado River reaches its delta, its water has been re-used eight times.

“I wanted to do these stories to make people think,” says McBride.

The Colorado River runs through the Grand Canyon, the section itself is 277 miles long and makes up just a part of the entire stretch. Even so, the Grand Canyon is facing challenges of its own from people who want to “make money from this iconic [place].”

Soaking up a sunrise on a the diving board platform — an eight day walk to reach this unique overlook. Access exits throughout Grand Canyon ranging in varying ability levels today but many see the landscape as a opportunity to turn its beauty into quick cash. As commercial tourism proposals continue, many fear this open-aired cathedral will lose one of its greatest attributes — its silence.

McBride has had a fantastic career working for the likes of National Geographic. His one piece of advice to those who want to work for the magazine: “You need to find a story that you care about. You need to find a story that resonates with you.”

(via Adorama via Fstoppers)