“On my drive to school in the morning, I would see the Grand,” says Jackson, Wyo. native Kira Brazinski. “And then learning, as I got older, that people could climb up, that was just mind-blowing.” Born with a rare birth defect, Brazinski uses a prosthetic leg for walking. “My parents did an awesome job of never telling me I was different, or that I couldn’t do something,” says the former competitive freerider. When knee pain curtailed her skiing, it could have spelled the end of outdoor pursuits. Instead, she doubled down, setting the grandest of objectives
In 2016, friends and journalists Pete McBride and Kevin Fedarko embarked on a 750-mile thru-hike of the Grand Canyon, a feat that falls somewhere between ambitious and foolhardy. Along with capturing the green ribbon of the Colorado River that flows thousands of feet below stunning ochre cliffs, the pair also witness how the quest of developers to monetize this natural beauty threatens its very existence, as well as the way of life of resident Native American tribes. Uranium mining, a proposed tramway and the near-constant overhead thrum of sightseeing helicopters intrude on this national treasure. During the months-long trek, the adventurers often find themselves marooned on slivers of rock above the river but below the rim, pondering the question: If we can’t protect the Grand Canyon, what can we protect?