Tag Archives: conservation
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Cutting down history

10 Jan

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Chasing Water – Source to sea on the Colorado River

27 Jul

I saw this via the Banff Mountain Film Festival last year and it’s stuck with me ever since… thought some might enjoy it. I definitely think it needs more exposure.

It’s not Russian dashcam footage or anything else of such high prestige, but it’s pretty decent.

  • Best Short Film – Banff Mountain Film Festival
  • Grand Prize – 5Point Film Festival
  • Activism Award – Adventure Film Festival
  • Best Documentary – ClearWater Festival
  • Best Environmental Film – Frozen Film Festival

Pete’s site is here: http://petemcbride.com/
“For 6 million years the Colorado River ran to the sea. Since 1998 it has not.”

Pete McBride grew up on a ranch in Western Colorado, a child of the Colorado River. After a life spent visiting other countries to tell stories as a National Geographic photojournalist, in 2008 Pete decided to follow the water from his family’s ranch to see where it ends up. This is the story of Pete’s journey, and a story about the lifeblood of the American West

Chasing Water to the End of The Colorado River

by david frey new west on May 3, 2011

From the rim of the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River below seemed both meek and mighty. It looked like a tiny band of water barely visible below millions of years of rock, but it was this river, blasting through fierce rapids with dirt and debris, that carved through a mile of rock like a diamond saw.

This is the Colorado River in its finest moments. River runners know it as a death-defying series of rapids, but even this whitewater is only a fraction of the hydraulics that once raged through the canyon, in the days before Lake Powell tamed it.

In its grim less spectacular moments the Colorado is not a river at all. It is an unremarkable trickle through concrete canals, and then, not even that. Just a dry riverbed that delivers not even a drop to the sea.

“It looks like the end of the line,” says photographer Pete McBride, as he and his companion, author Jonathan Waterman, find their canoes lodged in a foamy brown muck. “It looks like the garbage disposal at the end of the river.”

The two document the river from its source, high in the upper reaches of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, to the Sea of Cortez, where it’s supposed to end up, in the book The Colorado River: Flowing through Conflict. McBride also documents the river in a talk, and in the 18-minute documentary Chasing Water, which premiered recently at the 5Point Film Festival in Carbondale, Colorado., a fest that seeks to inspire adventure and instill environmental consciousness.

By kayak, airplane, and ultimately by foot, McBride explores the storied river from end to end. Growing up on a ranch in nearby Snowmass, Colorado, McBride says he used to wonder how long it would take for the water flowing through their irrigation ditch to reach the sea.

The answer: it doesn’t. Not since 1998 anyway. Tapped by farmers, ranchers, cities and towns, the Colorado River dies an early death.

“I started to see the river as an orphan stretched into the desert,” says McBride, narrating a journey in Chasing Water that carried him from the fields where he grew up to the streets of Las Vegas to California’s Imperial Valley.

McBride’s images, both in the book and in the film tell a powerful tale of the West’s greatest river. In Utah, they capture a wild river carving S-curves through the desert before it runs up against Glen Canyon Dam, where years of drought is causing Lake Powell to shrink. In Arizona, the shockingly straight lines of canals carry water to Los Angeles.

It’s hard to find a more gripping image, though, than the scene which begins the film: feet in flip-flops trundling over the cracked, dry earth where the Colorado River, “the American Nile,” as McBride calls it, is supposed to reach the sea.

Even in the Grand Canyon, the river ebbs and surges not with its natural rhythms, but with the output of Glen Canyon Dam set to match Phoenix’s need for air conditioning. The Colorado River, McBride comes to see, may be less an American Nile than it is a 1,500-mile piece of plumbing.

http://davidmfrey.com/2011/04/28/%E2%80%98chasing-water%E2%80%99-captures-colorado-river%E2%80%99s-tragic-tale/

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