Brave the Wild River
UC Botanical Garden Shop

Brave the Wild River

Regular price $30.00 $0.00 Unit price per

by Melissa L. Sevigny

BRAVE THE WILD RIVER: The Untold Story of Two Women Who Mapped the Botany of the Grand Canyon, by science journalist and writer Melissa L. Sevigny, is an evocative and beautifully written chronicle of botanists Elzada Clover and Lois Jotter’s history-making journey through the Grand Canyon in the summer of 1938.

Driven by boundless curiosity and determination, Clover and Jotter set out with an ambitious but relatively inexperienced expedition leader and three amateur boatmen, eager to “botanize” the beautiful and bizarre plant life of this little-known corner of the American West.

Subjected to surges of snowmelt, muddy landslides carrying boulders and debris, frothy whirlpools, and perilous waves, the Colorado River was considered the most dangerous river in the world and at the time only a handful of men, and no women, had survived a boat journey through the Grand Canyon.

Clover and Jotter’s plant pressings, letters, and journal entries provide an unprecedented botanical map of a landscape then unsullied by colonial influence. Their work was the first formal survey of the otherworldly plant life that thrived in such a “barren and hellish” landscape—tough, fierce, spiny cacti that sprouted in the secret nooks and crannies of the canyon, clinging to sheer cliffs and shifting sandbars. Sevigny’s vibrant and sophisticated style brings the heart pounding drama of the women’s forty-three-day journey down the river and the exquisite natural beauty of the canyon to life. Brave the Wild River is a loving tribute to two remarkable women—who valued their curiosity about the world more than their presumed place in it—and the adventure of a lifetime.

Melissa L. Sevigny is a science journalist at KNAU (Arizona Public Radio). She has worked in water policy, sustainable agriculture, and space exploration, and is the author of Under Desert Skies and Mythical River. She lives in Flagstaff, Arizona.

ISBN:  9780393868234 Hardcover Edition