The Cleanest Line

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    Elwha River Uplift

    Words and photos by Dylan Tomine

    Elwharaftkids

    The kids and I decided to squeeze in one last, close-to-home, weekday excursion before school started, so we headed over to the newly dam-free Elwha River for a little float. The last piece of the upper dam was removed last week, so it seemed like a good time to go see what had changed since I was there earlier this summer. And I wanted the kids to experience a river being reborn. That’s Weston and Skyla starting out, courtesy of our friends at Olympic Raft & Kayak.

    Continue reading "Elwha River Uplift" »

    The Lost Dory – Traveling in Baja with my dad and his handmade boat

    By Joe Curren

    Jcurren_dory_02

    When I think of my dad, I think of roughing it in Baja and traveling up and down the peninsula in a rickety old VW Bug. For three straight years, between the ages of 13-15, my dad would pick me up in Santa Barbara and we’d make the 1,000-mile drive south to Cabo on Highway 1. We spent six weeks in summer and two weeks in winter mostly staying at my dad’s place on the East Cape, but we also camped, surfed, fished and dove along the way, and always with his handmade foam and fiberglass dory.

    The trips are some of the best memories I have of my dad while growing up. Yes, we did rough it, but a bit of hardening was good for me. Traveling in Baja is a rite of passage for the Southern California surfer and getting dirty comes with the territory, especially once you venture south of Ensenada. Shipwrecks, Scorpion Bay, Seven Sisters; as a grom it was the waves that drew me in. Many hours, of course, were spent surfing. But my dad really made sure I experienced everything the land and water in Baja had to offer.

    [Above: The first trip when I was 13. Many adventures lay ahead. Photo: Pat Curren]

    Continue reading "The Lost Dory – Traveling in Baja with my dad and his handmade boat" »

    Fear and Self-Loathing in Punta Allen

    By Mike Thompson

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    “Push the button.”

    “No, you push the button.”

    “What the hell, push it Ellen!”

    She did.

    I knew I was going to be profiled as a narcotraficante even though the contraband I was trying to sneak past the customs officer was anything but drugs. In fact, it was several thousand dollars worth of fishing goodies to be given away at the Palometa Club, a fly fishing destination in Punta Allen, Mexico.

    The lodge, named for the permit fish, was playing host to a fundraising tournament to benefit Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, as well as the community school. Somehow—it is now lost to memory—I agreed to act as a mule to carry the merchandise for my friend and client, David. Since the weight of the Patagonia fishing shirts, polarized sun glasses, rods and fly boxes more than exceeded the allowed weight limit, I conscripted my friend and neighbor, Ellen, to haul some of the stuff for me. She naively agreed.

    [Above: Dark skies and rain shells, a sign of things to come. Photo: Matt Jones]

    Continue reading "Fear and Self-Loathing in Punta Allen" »

    Tenkara with Yvon Chouinard and Patagonia [Updated with Video]

    By Jess McGlothlin, Fire Girl Photography

    DFC-8-Sep-1

    My watch battery died within ten minutes of setting foot on the plane about to whisk me out of Great Falls, Montana.

    I should have realized it for what it was: a sign things were about to change.

    I had left behind an increasingly weird existence on the Missouri River front and hopped a plane to Salt Lake and then on to Jackson Hole. The job was to cover a Patagonia women’s fly fishing press event held near Ashton, Idaho. For my part, I hopped on that plane feeling sick, stressed and generally pretty damn tired.

    Forty-eight hours later found me tenkara fishing and wading on an Idaho river with Yvon Chouinard, arguably the founding father of outdoor retail as we know it today, feeling better than I have all year. Yvon, or YC as the Patagonia team calls him, founded the company in 1972 as Chouinard Equipment. He’s an old-school gentleman; patient, soft-spoken, full of incredible knowledge and incredibly, undeniably quotable.

    Continue reading "Tenkara with Yvon Chouinard and Patagonia [Updated with Video]" »

    Tributaries – An International Fly Fishing Film of Contrast and Commonality

    By RC Cone

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    Here I am in the middle of the hair-pulling, eye-bulging screen time that is post production. Another 14-hour day and I need fresh air. I go for long walks under the stars and think about the night skies of the Bahamas, Iceland and Patagonia.

    After my last film, Breathe, I really wanted to explore the wider implications of fly fishing. How does our sport fit into the world? What is this worldwide community like? What are the differences and similarities on a global scale? Instead of a personal journey, I wanted to explore the world’s waters and the cultures that inhabit them.

    I thought about the places and fish that enticed me – and booked flights. I put 90% of my belongings in storage, cancelled my cell phone service and disconnected the battery from my truck, consumed goodbye beers.

    [Above: Prescott Smith chases bonefish on the flats of Mastic point, Andros Island, The Bahamas. All photos courtesy of RC Cone]

    Continue reading "Tributaries – An International Fly Fishing Film of Contrast and Commonality" »

    Chuitna Mine – Pebble is Not the Only Mine Endangering Salmon

    By Paul Moinester

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    Peering out the window of the plane, I took a deep breath and tried to soak it all in. The sun was glistening on the expansive mudflats, casting a bright glow over the pristine landscape. To the west, the Alaska Range was commandeering the sky, its snowcapped peaks piercing the clouds. Everywhere the eye could see, serpentine rivers were snaking through the flats on their journey to the Cook Inlet. And though too small to be seen from the sky, the rivers were teeming with salmon, beckoning me to immerse myself in these pure waters and pursue that heart-stopping tug.

    It’s hard to fathom a place so raw, so barren, and so untouched. But it’s even harder to acknowledge the disturbing reality that this landscape is endangered and could soon become an industrial wasteland if the proposed Chuitna coal strip mine is given a green light.

    [Above: View from the plane of the pristine Chuitna watershed. All photos by Paul Moinester]

    Continue reading "Chuitna Mine – Pebble is Not the Only Mine Endangering Salmon" »

    Help Protect Bristol Bay – Watch Sea-Swallow’d and Take Action Today

    By Ryan Peterson



    As with any creative endeavor, the process of building is fraught with self-doubt. But when I showed a draft of my film, sea-swallow’d to my friend Teplin Cahall 5 months ago, I got a boost. You see, Tep can't talk. He was born that way. Because of this and some associated developmental issues, he sees the world a little differently than do the rest of us.

    One gauges Tep’s thoughts and feelings on a matter by the glints of ecstasy or tears of rage that accumulate in his eyes, and the alternately soothing or garish noises that his vocal chords are able to emit. His emotions are pure, raw, unfiltered by the complications of the wide world. He’s like an animal - innocent, instinctual, knowing only truth. In this way, if you can decipher his notes and read his analyses, Tep is the best critic a friend could ever have. To date, according to his dad, Fitz, Tep has watched sea-swallow’d several hundred times. I take this as approval.

    Continue reading "Help Protect Bristol Bay – Watch Sea-Swallow’d and Take Action Today" »

    A Watershed Moment for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

    By Nate Ptacek



    Brushing past lily pads, my canoe cuts through the serene calm of a September evening. I glide silently under massive pines in the fading light, careful to avoid the weathered snags of black spruce jutting out from shore. The water is still warm, but there is a slight chill in the air – a reminder that the brief northern summer is waning. 

    Suddenly, the silence is broken by a loud buzz. With a few draw strokes, I reach the source – a large dragonfly is trapped on the water’s surface, blown into the lake during a passing storm just an hour before. Ripples echo out in a delicate pattern as she struggles to take flight. Instinctively, I reach into the water, taking care not to crush her wings as she trembles wildly in my grasp.

    [Video: Watershed from Nate Ptacek]

    Continue reading "A Watershed Moment for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness" »

    Cooking Up a Conservation Victory in Canada’s Sacred Headwaters

    By Shannon McPhail

    We Did It!

    It's not often that a small, rural region of communities declares victory against one of the largest corporations on the planet, so when it happens - WE NEED TO CELEBRATE!

    Editor's note: I remember hearing Shannon speak back in 2010 when she, Ali Howard and a group of kayaking filmmakers visited Patagonia HQ to screen Awakening the Skeena. Shannon was passionate, funny and full of fight. We've published a number of posts on this issue – from protests to photos to film – so it's with great joy that we share this wonderful news today.

    The problem? Royal Dutch Shell wanted to drill 1,500-10,000 coal bed methane gas wells in the Sacred Headwaters, where three of Canada's greatest wild salmon and steelhead rivers, the Skeena, Stikine and Nass are born.

    These rivers are among the last surviving intact, kick-ass, grizzly bear chasing 30-pound salmon over waterfalls kind of rivers. Native and white families harvesting enough food for the winter kind of rivers. Dip your head in and drink the water without tablets or filters because it’s so clean kind of rivers. Not a single dam anywhere kind of rivers.

    Continue reading "Cooking Up a Conservation Victory in Canada’s Sacred Headwaters" »

    Dirtbag Diaries: The Magic of Serendipity – The Year of Big Ideas 2013

    By Fitz & Becca Cahall

    Dbd_YOBI_2012You might remember a story about climbers in the Magic Kingdom. It sounded like a dream job- climbing, secret lairs and cutting to the front of the roller coaster line. Our inbox flooded with emails about how to apply. But the program was canceled in 2005. Until last year. In an audition room filled with sponsored climbers and underground crushers, Susanica Tam felt her resume paled in comparison. Could climbing a mini-Matterhorn change Susanica's outlook on climbing?

    Today, we present our annual Year of Big Ideas. We went out into our community and listened to what you want to do in 2013. Here's to saying yes to new opportunities, stretching ourselves, and embracing a little spontaneity.


    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to "The Magic of Serendipity"
    (mp3 - right-click to download)


    Visit dirtbagdiaries.com for links to download the music from "The Year of Big Ideas 2013" or to hear past episodes of the podcast. You can subscribe to the show via iTunes and RSS, or connect with the Dirtbag Diaries community on Facebook and Twitter.

    [Graphic by Walker Cahall]


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