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    Study Abroad Opportunity in Thailand

    Yom_river_activists2We'll get your weekend started with a post from Patagoniac and Sociology professor from Kalamazoo College, Dr. Mark A. Ritchie. Dr. Ritchie lives in Thailand and runs a study abroad program for American college students that focuses on the study of ecology and culture, specifically with activist communities in Thailand -- groups fighting the damming of the last wild river and working to save the forests and way of life of the Karen tribal people. He worked with NOLS to design the curriculum so the courses are organized like a NOLS expedition. Read on to learn more about this amazing opportunity for college students and how ISDSI uses Patagonia enviro essays in their curriculum.

    The International Sustainable Development Studies Institute ( runs a unique experiential study-abroad program for American college students. Working together with activist communities in Thailand, we teach about the fields, forests, reefs, islands and rivers of Thailand.

    Our courses are expedition-based, with an emphasis on human powered travel and a direct experience of the cultures and ecology of Thailand in issues as diverse as organic farming and reef ecology. We paddle the Yom river with the village elders and youth who are fighting to keep the river from being dammed. We study mangrove ecology by sea kayaking down the coast, skin diving reefs, mangroves and sea grass beds, and learning from local communities of fishermen and women who are mobilizing to keep the mangroves from being cut down to make way for shrimp farms and resorts...

    Continue reading "Study Abroad Opportunity in Thailand" »

    Bike Mountain, Make Wilderness - Part 4

    Dave_dome1 Navigation of the washout is far from easy, the only reasonable choice is to completely unload the bike and ferry it and my gear down the embankment, across the stream, and up the steep and sandy opposite bank. The entire process takes 40 minutes.  I cover 30 yards. The road on the far side of the creek steepens sharply on the other side, and I can’t get started on the bike. Head down, straining, I dig in and push upward. Careful attention goes to each and every step, making sure the steepness of the grades doesn’t send the bike reeling back to topple me. After a deep grind up to more level terrain, I get back on the bike and start pedaling. 

    Again, I find momentum just as I reach another creek crossing—and another complete washout of the road . . .

    [Photo: localcrew]

    Continue reading "Bike Mountain, Make Wilderness - Part 4" »

    Bike Mountain, Make Wilderness - Part 3

    Bluemassmorning3 Morning. Day one. Light unfolds across the canyon like the slow-motion snap of a dusty blanket, alternately hiding and revealing a phalanx of gargoyle shadows cast by the infinite, fantastically shaped granite domes and towers that make up this mountain landscape. The route I will be biking disappears quickly above my camp into a shadowed archway of ancient and aromatic Mountain Elderberry lined with countless granite sentinels. Just below camp lies a broad Blue_mass4_3sweep of velvet green meadow ringed with aspens, leaves manicured to an even height by the elk, deer, and few free-range cattle that move through these mountains each season. I’ll be leaving the car here, and setting out by bike as soon as I can organize my gear...

    [Morning blues in the Kerns. Photos: localcrew]

    Continue reading "Bike Mountain, Make Wilderness - Part 3" »

    Eric Jackson's Winning Ride

    About a month ago we brought you word of Patagonia ambassador Eric Jackson's fourth World Freestyle Kayaking title. Here's his winning ride. 

    [With thanks to Lee H.]

    Bike Mountain, Make Wilderness - Part 2

    Lupine1 Idealism and inspiration aside, my bike strategy is governed by at least one sober reality—my Subaru is ancient and has a gas tank about the size of a Dixie™ cup. It takes just about a half-tank of gas to get from the nearest gas station out to the Kern Mountains, which leaves approximately half-tank of gas to either 1) perform my survey work, or 2) promptly return to the nearest gas station. Including the food and water stops that need to be made when I go back to civilization, refueling is an 8-hour round trip. Bike failure would have serious consequences out here....

    [Lupines give definition to the "blue" in Blue Mass Canyon, Kern Mountains. White Pine County, NV. Photo: David Smoyer.
    Map: Proposed boundary for Blue Mass Wilderness. Survey work  compared on-the-ground realities with this mapped proposal.

    Continue reading "Bike Mountain, Make Wilderness - Part 2" »

    Slacking Off Some Steam


    Sometimes you just gotta clear your head of work. For John and Jake that means throwing up an impromptu slackline and getting zen for a few minutes.

    Here we see Ben from our Facilities department walking the line for the first time behind Patagonia HQ. Smiles all around. [Photo: Free]

    Slackline_01 Slackline_04 Slackline_05_2 Slackline_02

    [L to R: John tests the waters; Adrienne gives it a go. Photos: Free. John busts out his barrel stance; Jake wears his thongs everywhere. Photos: Adrienne]

    Bike Mountain, Make Wilderness - Part 1

    "Wilderness," by both popular and political definition, is a large physical space devoid of the artifacts of human interference—no occupied permanent structures, no motors, no roads. To beCherry_stem something eligible for protection under the law, Wilderness must be a concrete thing, something that can be measured and documented. But in the wide-open stretches of Eastern Nevada, this much is obvious: "Wilderness" is limited only by imagination. It is a state of mind, a reality that can be entered with an odd mixture of choice, conviction, and surrender. And contrary to popular belief, you can go there on your bike.

    The Kern Mountains are tucked away in one of the most isolated corners of Nevada, a state that, itself, lays rightful claim to being in the middle of nowhere. I volunteered to spend a month in Kerns surveying potential wilderness boundaries for one of Patagonia's key Environmental Grant recipients: the Nevada Wilderness Project (NWP). 

    [Sometimes concessions need to be made to get wilderness protected. Roads that are allowed to persist within wilderness boundaries are referred to as "incursions," or more euphemistically, "cherry stems." Photo: localcrew]

    Continue reading "Bike Mountain, Make Wilderness - Part 1" »

    Beyond and Back

    Jj85531_s_2 Ventura, California

    Departure: June 8, 2007

    Let me introduce myself.

    My name is Jeff though sometimes people call me Tofu.

    Yes, I am employed by Patagonia.

    I work as a photographer, writer, and assist in the testing and production of Patagonia products.

    I am hitting the road in my van for an undetermined amount of time, simply to record what is happening and share it with others.

    No, my weird looking ice cream truck is not a delivery van for Patagonia. It's my house. It's a Dodge Sprinter Van made by Mercedes. The Chrysler Corporation now owns Dodge and Mercedes. From what I've been told, large American courier companies like Fed Ex and UPS have been putting pressure on American car manufacturers to produce a vehicle that gets better gas mileage and is more reliable. So Chrysler, to avoid import tax, ships the unassembled Sprinter Van from Germany to the East coast where it is assembled with a Dodge grill and sold in the United States as a Dodge. It's the best car I've ever owned. It has a diesel engine, gets roughly 25 miles to the gallon, has tons of space, and I look as if I'm some European ice cream man or a baked goods delivery boy. I sometimes call it "The Chick Magnet."

    Continue reading "Beyond and Back" »


    Dad2 Happy Father's Day to all the Patagoniac dads out there. Hope you had a good one. I'm sure some of you can relate to this sweet story from Ray Aberle.

    Read "Smaller Summits"

    How did fatherhood change your outdoor lifestyle? We'd love to read your story in the comments section if you have the time to share it with us.

    [Free Sr. happily helping me out with some car troubles on Father's Day. Notice the Opihi Man Shirt & Baggies mechanic's outfit. Thanks Dad! Photo: Free]

    Dirtbag Grant Winners

    Gen4_dirtbaggrantjpg After foraging through several hundred grant proposals, including some stunning 3D applications, we're ready to announce the winners of this year's Dirtbag Grant. There are two winners. Each will receive $3,000 to use towards their trip.

    The first Dirtbag Grant goes to a team of women from the southeast, Rachel Babkirk and Lucia Robinson, who described their idea as "part climbing road trip, part homeless aid drive." Down for the Down and Out is a project they started in their hometowns to collect and redistribute quality used outdoor gear through local relief organizations. Collection items include clothing, tents, sleeping bags, stoves, and backpacks. They plan to take this show on the road and hold collection drives in four areas that have both large outdoor communities and significant homeless populations. They also plan on partnering with local climbing gyms and outdoor gear shops in each city to set up collection drives in advance of their arrival.

    "As busy moms, we long to restore our dirtbag spirits and revisit the wandering lifestyle we once loved. The vagabonds in us want to load up Rachel's 1987 Westfalia camper van and embark on a carefree, dirt cheap climbing road trip. We will meld our two objectives by climbing and camping in the places where we hold collection drives."

    The second Dirtbag Grant recipient is Simon Clissold, a nomadic Australian ("My professional life as an organic farmer has taken me many places, from Vermont to Spain, New Zealand to England…") who at the time of writing his application was in Vermont making maple syrup before heading back to Southern Spain for the olive harvest. After the olive harvest Simon will walk, hitchhike and  "…travel using only public ground and sea transport (no planes), to the Tian Shan mountains (Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan), where I will base myself for the winter and explore the epic peaks of this wild range using only my split snowboard." Simon is experienced in the ways of what he calls "slow walking." Simon described a previous trip he'd taken as a "…slow adventure, walking 2000+ kilometers from Southern Spain to the French Alps by the side of my donkey."

    Continue reading "Dirtbag Grant Winners" »

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