DULUTH – A documentary that chronicles a Duluth woman's 1,200-mile thru-hike of Wisconsin's Ice Age Trail will premiere at the Banff international film festival in November.
"Breaking Trail" portrays the journey of Emily Ford and her borrowed sled dog, Diggins, as they hiked 69 days through subzero temperatures last winter.
Director Jesse Roesler first caught up with Ford about mile 500, then at various intervals until her journey ended March 6 near St. Croix Falls, Wis. The 30-minute film includes "a lot of hiking through deep snow," Ford says, along with footage of her setting up her tent at night, early morning shots of waking up and when she and Diggins met with locals at a small-town gas station.
The film captures a period of her life that she never set out to make as public as it became. But Ford's social media posts took off, garnering a huge following.
"This is weird for me to say because I don't quite feel this, but people have told me this is a marker in history, and that blows my mind," said the 29-year-old.
Produced by Credo Nonfiction, the documentary will be shown Nov. 7 at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Banff, Alberta. Virtual tickets are also available.
The film was likely chosen for the competition for the very reasons her hike first drew so much attention, Ford said.
"I think it's about getting more Black people outside, making it more visible. And getting that visual out there is a big deal," she said. "When you see people who look like you in marketing and films and doing crazy outdoor things, it opens that door for you."
Ford, head gardener at Glensheen Mansion, is only the second person to winter thru-hike the Ice Age Trail, a footpath covering glacier-made territory of forests, prairie and roads.
Up next for Ford, who plans to attend the showing in Banff, is a winter hike with Diggins across the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Many followers of their Ice Age travels were saddened when the bonded pair had to part at the end. Ford, struggling during those weeks afterward, asked owner Cheri Beatty if she could adopt Diggins. Happily, Ford and her partner became the proud owners of the husky in April.
Jana Hollingsworth • 218-508-2450