by Emily Nuchols
Sometimes destruction is a good thing. Last year, we watched bulldozers and jackhammers break apart and remove massive chunks of concrete from the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams on the Elwha River in Washington, and we cheered as the first flows of water broke through the cracks. We had been waiting for this moment for more than 20 years. The Elwha and its wild salmon and steelhead had been waiting for more than a century.
A month later, we stood motionless with hundreds of people, until we heard the first pop of dynamite exploding at the base of Condit Dam on the White Salmon River in Washington. With that dramatic eruption, the White Salmon broke free — reclaiming its wild course for the first time in 100 years.
Continue reading "American Rivers Announces America’s Most Endangered River for 2012" »
by Michael Kew
From “Coral Refuge, Ocean Deep,” Chapter 8
This atoll is on the way to nowhere except the crossroads of romance and adventure. Après-surf and brunch, Yvon and I board the skiff and buzz into close range; Francois kills the motor. Adrift within the lagoon’s turquoise comfort, far from the roily pass and its fish traps, a broad, sandy flat is declared quintessential bonefish domain. Nearby, a few decayed fishing shacks face dense coconut palms—Polynesia’s most important tree—hinting a wistful regard to overfishing and a once-seemingly endless bounty.
“Well, there’s no fish here compared to…I mean, you can go all day trolling out there and you don’t catch a fish sometimes,” Yvon says, absorbing the scene. “If you were at a place like Christmas Island or some of the less-inhabited places—or some places that haven’t been fished out—you can’t go a quarter-mile without hooking up with something. There’s still some pelagic fish here and stuff, but it’s pretty well fished-out, especially the closer you get to Tahiti.”
Exiting the skiff, we infiltrate with fly rods, cameras, and dim expectancy. Yvon wades and searches, casting over the sand and coral knobs.
[Above: Yvon Chouinard preps for a day of bonefishing. Photo: Michael Kew]
Continue reading "Isles of Idyll — An Excerpt from “Crossings”" »
by Tom Morehouse
I have an interesting Patagonia photo to share with you. I was on Christmas Island (Kiribati) in March. My guide was Moana who was one of the founders of bonefishing on Christmas Island in the '80s when he was about 30 years of age.
[Nothing beats local knowledge. Moana Kofe scouts for bonefish on Kiribati. Photo: Tom Morehouse]
While fishing, I noticed that he had an old pair of Patagonia wading shoes on which were very well-worn. But here is the interesting part. He fishes every day for 12 hours in the salt water. These shoes have not only held up but, as the picture shows, have seaweed growing out of the tongue. When asked about it he said that the shoes never dry out and it has been there for years. I am enclosing a picture for you.
Continue reading "Well-Worn Wading Boots on Christmas Island" »
by Ryan Montbleau
As a New England boy through and through, I have to ask myself: what if over the last 80 years, Rhode Island had washed away into the sea and was now completely gone? That is essentially what has happened to Louisiana's coastal wetlands since the 1930s. Over 1,880 square miles of land have been lost during that time (an area significantly larger than Rhode Island), thanks in large part to the policies of human beings.
[Above: Musician and voice of the wetlands, Ryan Montbleau. Photo: Ryan Laurey]
Continue reading "Ryan Montbleau Raises His Voice for Louisiana Wetlands" »
We recently received this email from Ross Curwen, a reader from, as he says, "rainy old England."
Just a letter saying thanks to The Cleanest Line community from rainy old England. About a year ago I injured my shoulder. This meant I had to cut right back on two things pretty huge to me: surfing and climbing. I was a bit mopey for a bit.
I needed to have something to maintain my fitness. Gyms, road running, cycling are all good but they're missing something. That's when I found trail running, through the Patagonia site. I don't have the huge expanse of mountains and national parks but I am spoilt with miles of cliff paths and dartmoor close to hand.
A year later and I am hooked. I love the rhythm of the trails, the temperature changes on your face emerging from dappled tree lines onto exposed cliffs. Like a lot of people in the community it becomes a bit of obsession. I'm at work knowing I've got shoes and a head torch waiting for me and trails to conquer later.
I wouldn't have this drive without reading the submissions on The Cleanest Line. I read the stories of all the different sports, trips and adventures and it inspires me to make my own. So all in all thank you to all of you and keep going as you are.
This short letter got us thinking about how we got started doing the things we love to do. Surely, we thought there are lots of interesting stories out there among our readers and we thought it'd be cool to hear some of them. If you have a story to tell, by all means chime in!
I'll go first...
Continue reading "What Inspired You?" »
by Kelly Cordes
In early 2009, Kelly took a trip to Northern Chilean Patagonia with climbing legend Jim Donini. Here, Kelly revisits his notes from an adventure with Jim. This is the final part of a series of short posts from their trip. Click to read the first, second and third.
As we start down from the top of the snow mound, returning to our bivy – we would never get any closer to the route – a condor circles overhead. The Andean Condor is the world’s largest flying land bird, with wingspans of 10 feet and weights of 25 pounds. I pull out my camera, and another one comes. They circle us. They cover enormous ranges and have visual acuity beyond our comprehension. Surely they’ve seen humans before. Just not up here. I’m awe-struck as they glide around, sometimes still for a moment on a thermal, suspended in space, before changing direction and soaring away.
[An Andean Condor begins to check us out. Photo: Kelly Cordes]
We downclimb the easy snow slopes and they follow. A third one arrives. When the birds see another circling miles away, they must figure it’s carrion – their sole sustenance – and come for some feeding. I’m glad I’m not any smaller.
Continue reading "An Outing with Donini: Birdwatching (Part Four)" »
Editor’s note: Craig Holloway continues his excellent interview series today with some questions for Patagonia’s receptionist and gatekeeper, Chip Bell. He is the first person you’re likely to meet when visiting the Patagonia campus in Ventura, California. Chip’s warm hospitality and easy smile make you feel right at home. Craig chose to interview Chip for his integrity, company knowledge and devotion to family and friends.
Craig – Are you a Southern California native?
Chip – Yes, I was born in Hollywood and raised in Santa Barbara.
Craig – How did you come to work at Patagonia?
Chip – I had just finished a ten-year tour with the Pro Frisbee® Freestyle circuit and was looking for a job. I heard that Patagonia was hiring, so I applied and they hired me. I was super stoked to find out that the company provided benefits because I was newly married with a baby on the way.
[Above, pictured from left to right – Bud Light Pro Frisbee® Disc team members, Crazy John Brooks, Chipper Bro Bell and Danny Sullivan (with leg warmers), acknowledge the crowd before the start of the 1987 U.S. Open Championship. La Mirada, California. Photo: Scott Starr Collection]
Continue reading "Inside/Outside: Questions for Patagonia’s Chip “Chipper Bro” Bell" »