A century ago, the idea that human engineering could re-plumb the entire flow of the Southwest’s biggest river — the Colorado — and divert it out of its riverbed was unimaginable. Today, the opposite is true. The Colorado hasn’t consistently reached the Gulf of California in decades, and the idea that two nations, 35 million people, and one of the most productive agricultural sectors in the U.S. could agree to give up some of their water to reconnect river and sea seems equally unlikely.

But in March 2014, the unimaginable happened. Over fifteen years of hard work by environmental groups paid off, and a substantial flow was secured for restoration purposes in the delta. For several glorious months, a flood was simulated and it was possible to float the Colorado through Mexico once again.

Filmmaker, photographer and Colorado River advocate Pete McBride knew that this was the chance of a lifetime. He got together with a few friends, gathered his cameras, and set out to complete the first ever stand up paddleboard crossing of the delta. The result was Delta Dawn, a 16-minute film that won Best Short Mountain Film at Banff Mountain Film Fest this weekend.

"This film demonstrates how adventure can help expose the choices we make in our daily lives. Through stark images and playfulness, it leads us to ask important questions and shows us the power of a river." says Joni Cooper, Banff jury member.

Read more about the Colorado River Delta from Kevin Fedarko, nationally-acclaimed author of The Emerald Mile.

–Members of C&K’s edit team also crossed the flooding delta by boat. SEE PHOTOS from their trip and read about the Colorado’s (brief) reconnection with the sea.