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Meet Velvet, A Dory on the Salmon!

Welcome to the Team, Velvet!

“Is that…a dory?!” Folks at the boat ramp crane their necks to get a better view of the elegant wooden boat. Only 13’ 6” long, she’s one of three ‘Double Chubble’ dories ever built. She’s the perfect size for both big water and low technical flows which characterize the free-flowing Salmon River. Greg, owner of Canyons River Company, strokes the little boat gently and then fluffs the pillows that adorn her benches. He welcomes the onlookers to admire the fine craftsmanship of Fretwater Boatworks.

Greg is good friends with Brad Dimock, owner of Fretwater Boatworks. One of Greg’s dreams was to row a lavender dory on the Salmon River, so Brad and his co-worker, Cricket, brought this dream to life by building Velvet.

Working both in the Grand Canyon and on Salmon River, Greg quickly learned of dory-lore. He had the opportunity to row a friend’s dory named Thunder River down the Grand and it was love at first stroke. Greg describes the allure of captaining this special craft: “It feels like you’re kayaking…but you can take friends in your boat!”

Velvet Falls is the first significant drop on the Middle Fork of the Salmon. Back in 1995 when Greg was a young river guide, Velvet Falls stood out to him as a “beautiful rapid” and since then it has “always held a special spot”. It just so happened that after Velvet was built, named, and christened in the Salmon River, the rapid of Velvet Falls changed forever from a massive landslide.

Landslides in the Salmon River corridor often occur after forest fires. A fire cycle is natural and healthy in this ecosystem; however, a history of poor environmental decisions have had detrimental consequences. Downstream dams preventing the keystone species of salmon returning to the ecosystem and forest mis-management are two major human impacts that have contributed to the recent catastrophic fires.

Dories are often named to memorialize the earth’s natural wonders that have been badly injured by human activities; some historic dories are Marble Canyon, Hidden Passage, and Quartz Creek. Martin Litton, a devoted dory pioneer and environmentalist, began this tradition as a way to inspire river activism. He believed that if you got people down to rivers, it would inspire them to take care of these places. Unintentionally, Velvet followed tradition and became a living memory of her namesake.

Velvet has navigated the mighty Main Salmon and Lower Salmon. In 2024, Greg says “she’ll be making her way upstream to the Middle Fork, just like a little salmon returning home”.

We hope you’ll have the chance to ride in her. “She’s a spunky little filly, always ready to ride!”

written by Canyons guide, Jessie Longe

About Greg McFadden

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