Chris Propst and companions hike along the Escalante Route in Grand Canyon. [Courtesy photo]

“ON FOOT: Grand Canyon Backpacking Stories” gives readers a glimpse of what it’s like to hike beneath the rim – ranging from the “wide-eyed wonder” of first-time hikers to the “grim, near-death encounter” of one veteran backpacker. This collection of essays from 27 authors is the first-ever anthology dedicated to the Grand Canyon backpacking experience.

Three of the writers – Nic Korte of Grand Junction, Colorado; and Chris Propst and Rick Kempa, both of Rock Springs, Wyoming, will share their canyon stories during a reading and slide show presentation at the Grand County Public Library on Friday, April 3 at 6:30 p.m. There will be time for questions and answers and conversation, as well as a book-signing afterward.

Korte’s essay “Freedom and Risk” is divided into two sections – the first, “Bedtime Stories and Life Lessons” is a reflection on his lifelong relationship with the canyon and how it has shaped his character.

The second part, “Something Happened,” is a gripping story of what occurred while on a backpacking trip with his daughter and son-in-law in 2008. While searching for a cave in the Thunder River area, Korte stepped onto a suitcase-sized rock that gave way beneath his feet, causing Korte to roll several feet down a slope and over a cliff. It is a compelling and moving tale about his ordeal, and how his son-in-law and daughter and a chance river party were able to get help in time to save his life.

There will be a follow-up piece for High Country News, which is due to come out in the fall or winter, Korte said.

Despite suffering multiple fractures, a collapsed lung and other injuries, Korte has backpacked the canyon several times since, including a four-night trip two weeks ago with his brother and three nephews. In 2012, he returned with his daughter and son-in-law for a five-night trip to the South Bass Trail and Copper Canyon. A year ago, he backpacked 50 miles with Kempa, the book’s editor, whom he met after submitting the first part of his essay.

In “The Nameless Side Canyon,” Propst, who teaches English at Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs, describes a dangerous hike on the Escalante Route between Tanner Trail and Red Canyon off the canyon’s South Rim – an experience that helped him deal with the loss of his mother.

Kempa wrote a humorous essay, “Claim Your Due: A Backpacker’s View of River Runners.”

“We aimed for a full range of canyon experiences,” when soliciting stories to include in the anthology, Kempa said. “There are lovely essays of people looking at the canyon with new eyes – and sometimes fear as they wonder if they will be able to make it out now that they’ve made it in.”

Korte, Propst and Kempa will each read excerpts from their essays and show slides from various canyon excursions. Kempa will also read vignettes from other pieces, including Laurie McClellan’s “short, beautiful essay describing her first time in the Canyon.”

Not all the stories are about the canyon’s remotest trails. In Matt Berman’s essay “Uphill Battle,” he describes working on the well-traveled Bright Angel Trail, and stepping off the trail to find a glen of springtime flowers. No matter the trail or time of year, the canyon is “never the same,” Kempa said.

Kempa was an artist-in-residence at Grand Canyon’s South and North rims, two different summers. He co-edited the anthology “Poetry of the Grand Canyon, and is author of two published books of poems, “Keeping the Quiet” and “Ten Thousand Voices.”

“ON FOOT: Grand Canyon Backpacking Stories” was published by Vishnu Temple Press in Flagstaff, Arizona, which specializes in Grand Canyon literature. The book is also available at Back of Beyond Books, which is located at 83 N. Main St. in Moab.

Authors of new Grand Canyon guide come to library on April 3

What: Three authors of the new book “ON FOOT: Grand Canyon Backpacking Stories” present readings and a slide show presentation about hiking the Grand Canyon’s backcountry

When: Friday, April 3 at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Grand County Public Library, 257 E. Center St.

Cost: Free

Information: 435-259-1111