In the annals of Grand Canyon boating and conservation, Martin Litton is a unique force of nature, a tornado of ungovernable passions, soaring eloquence, and stiff-necked defiance quite unlike anything else that's ever blown through one of the most storied locales in American adventure.
Born in Gardena, California, in February 1917, Litton grew up exploring the California wilderness, served as a glider pilot in World War II, and started taking trips down the Colorado back in the fifties, eventually becoming the only outfitter to guide the river's ferocious rapids exclusively in the frail wooden boats known as Grand Canyon dories.
He has fought for all sorts of restrictions to protect fragile landscapes, yet he loathes any government agency that musters the temerity to tell him where he can go and how to behave when he gets there.
He inspires great loyalty, but his former employees describe him as the sort of mercurial boss who could switch in a heartbeat from charming to curmudgeonly to nitpicking.
The run is a maelstrom of huge waves and sharp pour-overs that sound like the afterburners of an F-16. ""Do you know what the greatest pleasure in life is, J. As every Grand Canyon guide knows, this pronouncement by the river-loving Water Rat is potent stuff: the closest thing dirtbag boatmen have to an Apostles' Creed.