The Cleanest Line

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    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]


    DamNation – A River Reestablishes Itself

    By Katie Klingsporn

    Creek

    In September of 2011, machines began chipping away at the Elwha Dam in Washington’s lush Olympic Peninsula, kicking off the largest dam-removal project in United States history.

    The dam has since been completely removed from the section of the Elwha River it had occupied since 1913. Another dam upstream, the Glines Canyon Dam, located in Olympic National Park, is partially dismantled and expected to be a thing of the past by early next summer, freeing the river for the first time in 100 years.

    [Above: The 210 foot Glines Canyon Dam in Olympic National Park has illegally blocked spawning habitat for an extraordinary chinook salmon run since 1927. Photo by Ben Knight/DamNation]

    Continue reading "DamNation – A River Reestablishes Itself" »

    Read an Excerpt from "Closer to the Ground" by Dylan Tomine – Now Available in Hardcover and eBook

    by Dylan Tomine

    Closer_coverBefore reading the excerpt, see what Patagonia's founder, Yvon Chouinard, has to say about
    Closer to the Ground.

    A note from the publisher: Why I love this book

    Dylan Tomine’s Closer to the Ground is a lot more than your usual tribute to local food or to a local sense of place, or how to manipulate your kids into doing what you want them to do. Closer is a good-humored guide to teaching our kids how to learn from nature as teacher and mentor. Chief among nature’s lessons is self-reliance. You can see in Dylan’s kids, the more time they spend foraging and fishing with their dad, just how different their relation is to the food they eat, and how they develop a confidence anyone of any age could envy.

    Patagonia Books is discriminating. Every one of our titles has to be written with strength and clarity, and deliver a message that fits our reason for being—to publish work that supports the conservation and restoration of the natural world (that in turn underpins and sustains human life).

    Closer to the Ground is my favorite so far.

    —Yvon Chouinard

     

    From the Introduction

    During our first years of living together in Seattle, Stacy and I were dedicated urbanites, working, eating, sleeping downtown and taking full advantage of everything the city had to offer. But gradually, we found ourselves shifting to a strange, part-time rural existence, motivated by our quest for wild foods we could only find out in the country. The life of a city-based dilettante hunter-gatherer, though, is not easy. Try parking a drift boat in a crowded underground garage or finding a place to dump crab guts in a high-rise apartment. Step into an elevator stinking of tidal mud and lugging a bucket of geoducks and your neighbors press against the back wall with fear in their eyes.

    Continue reading "Read an Excerpt from "Closer to the Ground" by Dylan Tomine – Now Available in Hardcover and eBook" »

    America: the DamNation

    by Katie Klingsporn

    Davis_t_0822_2

    Despite their imposing numbers and size, most people never give dams a second thought.

    Patagonia founder and owner Yvon Chouinard is not one of those people.

    When he sees dams, he sees broken waterways, an antiquated way of thinking and a means of generating energy that is far from green. He also sees the potential to mend the damage by taking down dams.

    “I’m a fisherman, and I want to see fish come back to these rivers,” Chouinard said. “I want to establish that when you put in a dam or when you dig an open-pit mine or scrape down a mountain, that you have to restore it. There’s a public trust there and you have to restore it.”

    [Above: Executive Producer of DamNation and Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard, has long been an advocate of dam busting and protecting free flowing rivers. Photo: Tim Davis.]

    Continue reading "America: the DamNation" »

    Wild Salmon Get a Champion in Gov. Kitzhaber, but are Under Attack in Congress

    by Bobby Hayden, Save Our Wild Salmon

    If you’re excited by the progress being made to restore healthy free-flowing rivers and recover wild salmon across the country (think the Elwha, White Salmon, Kennebec, Penobscot, Sandy, and Rogue Rivers) – and you want to see more – please read on.

    Gov_Kitzhaber

    First, the good news: salmon get a political champion.

    Every so often – even in our currently highly polarized political climate – elected-leaders work to rise above the fray and seek new, collaborative solutions to tough challenges.

    [Above: Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. Photo courtesy of the State of Oregon.]

    Continue reading "Wild Salmon Get a Champion in Gov. Kitzhaber, but are Under Attack in Congress" »

    Veteran Anglers of New York Fly Fishing Adventure in the Abacos, Bahamas

    by Richard Franklin

    B11 723 Abaco PS s

    On the final evening of our trip, we enjoyed a feast prepared by expert saltwater fly fisher, FFF-certified casting instructor and Veteran Anglers of New York (VANY) volunteer, David Blinken. We called it “Bahamian Thanksgiving” with native conch salad, sautéed grouper, brown rice with chicken from the Abaco Big Bird poultry farm and spiny lobster or “crawfish” tails. We were packed and ready for an “0 dark-thirty” run back to Marsh Harbour Airport for our return to New York City after a week of fly fishing for bonefish on Abaco Island.

    Robert “Nicko” Gill, the youngest of our four veterans who, like Andrew Roberts, a West Point graduate, served in Iraq, Exer Quinonez, and Manuel “Manny” Vasquez, a Green Beret during the Vietnam War, thanked the three VANY volunteers, David, Phil Shook, outdoor writer and FFF-certified fly casting instructor and myself. Nicko spoke about one of our two guided days on the trip when he was perched upon the bow of a skiff as Kendall, our Bahamian guide, quietly poled the boat and, in hushed tones, said, “OK, we are going to meet a single bonefish. He is at 11 o’clock about 120 feet. Get ready.”

    [All Photographs © Richard Franklin]

    Continue reading "Veteran Anglers of New York Fly Fishing Adventure in the Abacos, Bahamas " »

    Isles of Idyll — An Excerpt from “Crossings”

    by Michael Kew

    Kew_1

    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”" »

    Well-Worn Wading Boots on Christmas Island

    by Tom Morehouse

    DSCF2925

    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" »

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