James Cracknell is a British rowing champion and double Olympic gold medalist (rowing), adventurer and Conservative Party politician…and a really tough guy. He was replicating William L. Manley’s discovery of Death Valley which more or less begins on the banks of the Green River, in Green River Wyoming.
Mr Cracknell’s TV journey began, however, on the banks of the Green River above the town of Green River, Utah. Manly had originally discovered a flat bottomed boat to float to California since the he wasn’t keen on spending the winter in Wyoming with the rest of the wagon train with whom he had crossed the prairie. The destruction of that boat led him to search out a hollowed out Ponderosa log where he apparently floated through a portion of the Canyon of Desolation with over 50 (named) rapids! It was here that he met Timpanogos Ute Chief Wakara who warned him of certain death if he continued down the river.
Without a hollowed Ponderosa log Cracknell turned to the abundance of driftwood from the previous high water. He began the task of lashing chunks together using hemp rope, that when soaked in water became quite brittle. Some more modern technology came to the rescue and ultimately he had a round-ish raft, which is less than ideal.
But Cracknell, being an Olympic rower, was able to keep it mostly upright and succeeded in navigating a few miles of the Green.
The journey continued to California as the crew used a Cliffs & Canyons van and camping gear overseen by the most-excellent cook and guide, Anne St. Claire. It is through her journey with the crew that she experienced a similar adventure of intrigue, controversy and physical duress. Unfortunately, that story didn’t make it into the show!