Kevin Fedarko’s book Emerald Mile brought widespread attention to the particular beauty of running a wooden dory down the Grand Canyon, and this short film about an aspiring boatwoman named Amber Shannon, adds to the mystique. Precision with these boats is critical – or, as precise as you can be in big rapids – because dories can be damaged or destroyed by impact, and Shannon spent years on rivers moving toward her dream. What’s it going to take, she asks, 20 years?

“It’s definitely easier to get a Ph.D. than it is to get a dory here in the Grand Canyon,” says grizzled boatman John Shocklee.

This is storytelling at its finest – by focusing on Shannon’s quest, the filmmakers weave a picture of boating culture, navigation, gear, rivers, and the unique experience of running the Big Ditch.


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