River Water in his Blood
Mexican Hat Utah really isnt a place many
people head for on purpose. It was even less so in 1937: on a long dirt road from nowhere.
But thats where young Don Harriss job took him, and it was there he contracted
that lifelong affliction we all know as The River.
He was born and raised in Soda Springs, Idaho, working on the family ranch in
the summer and schooling in town in the winter. After high school he earned a degree in
civil engineering and worked with a few government agencies before the United States
Geological Survey sent him to Mexican Hat.
Some fifty-six years later, a couple of us sat down and asked Don to tell us
a bit about his life, which spans boating on the rivers of the Colorado Basin from a time
when only the eccentric adventurer would launch an expedition in a hand-built wooden boat,
to the heyday of commercial motor-rig operation.
Harris: I wasnt really looking forward to going to
Mexican Hat. I didnt, at the time, love these lonely outpost places, as I figured it
was. But after Id been there a while and got pretty well acquainted with Norm
Nevills, why I started to enjoy it.