The Cleanest Line

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    Looking for Steelies

    1Taking the plunge.Stoecker 2 Taking the plunge (albeit it a shallow one) into the Ventura River in the spirit of Our Common Waters, Patagonia’s new environmental campaign, Patagonia editor Jim Little and a couple of friends spent the afternoon snorkeling for endangered southern steelhead trout. Along the way they sneak up on a few fish and discuss why the once plentiful animal is having such a rough go of it.

    The plan was to take a couple hours out of the workday to grab lunch at a taqueria and go snorkel the Ventura River looking for southern steelhead trout. It was late January, with 80-degree temps, light offshore winds and knowledgeable comrades: fish biologist Matt Stoecker and Ventura watershed watchdog Paul Jenkin.

    2peirano brothers Burritos (and fish tacos) in bellies, snorkel and camera gear in hand, we hit three pools looking hard for a now-scarce fish that once flashed the river in the thousands. When the steelhead ran back in the 1920s, Ventura’s public schools closed so kids could go fishing. But 90 years later, as we dragged ourselves through mossy waters trying not to swallow a single drop for fear of some gut-bending bug, I learned why the endangered southern steelhead are now so few.

    [Above - Into the river in search of steelhead. Photo: Matt Stoecker. Left - Back in the Good Old Days, the Peirano Brothers and others pulled lots of steelhead out of the Ventura River, 1920s.]

    Continue reading "Looking for Steelies" »

    Enriching the Rivers

    Patagonia’s environmental internship program is sending about 20 employees into the field this year to volunteer with nonprofit environmental groups around the world. The company pays employee salaries and benefits for up to a month while they work in D.C., Kenya, Kauai and other locales. Ari Zolonz, an employee in our Portland, Oregon store, spent the month of October working with the Native Fish Society. Here’s his account:

    6Driftcreek_4 Enriching the Rivers

    When trout season is in full swing and the truck is in some kind of working order, forget about finding me anywhere near concrete. I’m gone every day I’m not working in Patagonia’s Portland store.

    As an angler concerned with the declining state of nature, I support various environmental groups with a small amount of cash. So when the opportunity arose through Patagonia’s environmental internship program to volunteer with one of my favorite groups, the Native Fish Society, I jumped on it.

    Based in Oregon City, Oregon, the Native Fish Society is devoted to the conservation, preservation and restoration of wild native fish in the rivers of the Pacific Northwest. They work with federal and state agencies to improve fish-management policies, and encourage the public to get involved with issues affecting their waterways and the fish that inhabit them.

    [Home to native steelhead and salmon, Drift Creek is a coastal run. Ari found this one to be much healthier than other streams he visited that flowed through intensively logged landscapes. Photo: Ari Zolonz]

    Continue reading "Enriching the Rivers" »

    Dirtbag Diaries: What We Had

    Flyfisher Happy New Year. We're starting 2011 off right with the first-ever fly fishing story to be shared on the Dirtbag Diaries. Host Fitz Cahall introduces today's podcast:

    Mark Rutherford and John Merritt grew up sharing the same sand box. As they grew up, they each followed separate paths. John had a successful career in the Chicago financial world. Mark moved to Alaska and raised a family in tiny cabin he built with his own hands. Twenty years ago, Mark began a successful adventure fly fishing guide service in the Bristol Bay region. An avid fisherman, John got in touch with Mark and scheduled a trip. On that first trip, John revealed that he had been diagnosed with M.S. Ten years prior, doctors told him he had seven years to live. That first trip marked the beginning of decade of trips, each more adventurous than the last. Today, we are headed up stream to the confluence of several lives. Friendships are a bit like rivers -- when they converge, they swell into something greater.

    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to "What We Had"
    (mp3 - right-click to download)

    There's more to this touching story than what you just heard. Hit the jump for some background on the folks who were featured in today's podcast and a link to some photos from the trip they described.

    Continue reading "Dirtbag Diaries: What We Had" »

    Viva La Vegetal - Fly Fishing through Mexico under Power of Vegetable Oil

    Photo-9 It started out as an idea and later became a vision while on a trip across Argentina seven years ago. Former members of AEG Media, creators of The Trout Bum Diaries and Fish Bum Diaries DVDs, have collaborated once again to document a new expedition throughout Mexico. The crew is operating under MOTIV Fishing these days but their mission to get off the grid as far as possible with a fly rod and camera in hand is still the same. [Photo: MOTIV Fishing]

    The vehicle of choice for the expedition across Mexico is a mid-'90s F250 converted to run on recycled vegetable oil. In the crew's own words, they’re going to travel across Mexico "wrestling waste oil out of grimy barrels in the back of taquerias and begging tortilla chip factories for a liquid substance that most wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole – free fuel and they say it's good for the environment."

    It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it. Here's a report from the MOTIV Fishing crew.

    ¡Vamonos a la Baja! After countless hours of major surgery to the rig the veg conversion is done and we are headed south to our first fishing destinations in Baja Sur, prepared to take on the rough terrain though Mexico. Joel Woolf at Veg Powered Systems made sure that everything was dialed on the rig before he would let us drive our truck down into Mexico. This was no minor task as our truck needed a new thermostat, glow plugs, fuel pump, and some serious welding work on the rack and frame. We set up our camp in Joel's backyard and spent 10 days helping him with the conversion and truck overhaul. We decided that due to the short supplies of veg oil along the drive down baja our plan was to bring a trailer that would double as our fuel tanker.

    Continue reading "Viva La Vegetal - Fly Fishing through Mexico under Power of Vegetable Oil " »

    Media Review (and marg recipe): Eastern Rises

    Eastern_rises_felt_soul_3

    Last night I saw the best outdoor film I’ve seen in awhile. It’s about fly fishing. Huh? I’ve never fly fished and, honestly, I never really “got it.” I know there must be something there, though, because even if it makes as much sense to me as drinking margaritas in Russia, people love it, obsess over it like I do with climbing, and friends do with skiing and surfing. Tons of people at Patagonia go nuts for it. Cool. But still, I didn’t really understand the allure. Until last night. [Photo: Felt Soul Media]

    The 39-minute film is called Eastern Rises, and it showed at the opening night of Adventure Film Festival, the festival created by my friend Jonny Copp that's continuing onward in his memory. In short, Eastern Rises follows a few fly fishing obsessed guys who go to the ultra-remote Kamchatka Peninsula in Eastern Russia to fish (of course), traveling by ancient Russian helicopters, enduring Vodka culture, Sasquatch, Grizzlies, monster fish and encountering a variety of characters at every turn – and these guys fully fit-in, being quite far from the cardboard cutout types themselves. According to the film info, the Kamchatka’s coastline has “the most abundant and biologically diverse population of wild rainbow trout, salmon and steelhead that has ever existed on Earth.” Once they arrived, wow. You don’t have to care about fish to fall in love with the landscape, though I imagine it must be like the fishing version of an undiscovered and unbelievably pristine mountain range made for climbing.

    It takes more than pretty pictures, though, to make a great film.

    Continue reading "Media Review (and marg recipe): Eastern Rises" »

    Conservation Photographers Focus on Canada's Sacred Headwaters

    _MG_3587Nacimiento-de-dos-rios We first learned about the work of the International League of Conservation Photographers through their compelling work on behalf of threatened regions in Patagonia. This summer, they've been lending their honed expertise and incomparable imagery to the fight for some of Western Canada's most treasured landscapes. We're pleased to share this story, from National Geographic Explorer and award-winning author, photographer and researcher, Wade Davis, on behalf of Canada's Sacred Headwaters region.

    * * *

    In a rugged knot of mountains, in the remote reaches of northern British Columbia, lies a stunningly beautiful valley known to the first nations as the Sacred Headwaters. There, on the southern edge of the Spatsizi Wilderness – the Serengeti of Canada – are born in remarkably close proximity three of Canada’s most important salmon rivers: the Stikine, Skeena and Nass.

    [A calm lake in the Sacred Headwaters. Photo: Claudio Contreras, courtesy of iLCP]

    Continue reading "Conservation Photographers Focus on Canada's Sacred Headwaters" »

    Talk About Your Dream Expedition, Win a NOLS Trip

    Dream_Postcard_5 Let’s put this in the simplest possible terms: If you can pick up a video camera and press "record," you have a chance to win a kick-ass trip.

    It really is almost too easy: all you have to do is submit a short video describing your dream expedition. If you’re at a computer, chances are good you’re sitting in front of a video camera right now. Click the “record” button and spill the beans. Tell the world where you dream of going and click “submit.” Make it good, and you can plan on packing your bags . . .

    ------

    So where do you dream of going? A climbing trip to the Karakoram? A carbon-neutral quest for surf along the Baja coast? Perhaps you've got some pow to shred on the shoulders of Kamchatka's temptingly remote volcanoes. Regardless of where you dream your dreams will take you, a NOLS course is the best first step to getting there. That's why the National Outdoor Leadership School, the leader in wilderness and leadership education, is offering their classic Wind River Wilderness course as the top prize for the best Dream Expedition Video.

    Spending a solid month hiking, bagging peaks and catching trout in some of America's most beautiful mountains not your thing? No sweat. The grand-prize value can be applied to any NOLS course you're eligible for - it could be sailing and sea kayaking in the Gulf of California, mountaineering in the Waddington Range, exploring Amazonian rainforests, or losing (and finding) yourself on a three-month expedition to Patagonia. It's up to you. Oh . . . did we mention money for domestic travel expenses is included, as well as all the Patagonia gear you need to stay comfy on your trip?*

    So don't dally: Check out the full contest details, get yourself a camera and give the NOLS folks a taste of your inner Scorsese.

    *visit the NOLS contest page (www.nols.edu/contest) for complete rules and award guidelines.

    Will Obama Dam Salmon to Extinction?

    SalmonIn the midst of rightful concern over the plight of the Gulf, consuming conversations about the latest Supreme Court nominee, and the daily soap opera that has become our economy it's easy to become overwhelmed. Information fatigue is real; each of us can only care so much, and only has so much attention to spare after the job, the family and daily chores are taken care of. It's precisely why we feel the need to bring you this news from our friends at Save Our Wild Salmon. They're in the midst of a campaign that could determine the fate of the Endangered Species Act. At a time when so much attention is immediate and aimed at putting out fires today, lending a hand to a group that's looking out - and fighting for - a precious piece of our future can provide a much-needed tonic of hope.

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    “What is at stake here goes far beyond the issue of salmon recovery. To me, it raises the question of whether we have the courage and the will to reconcile the growing contradiction between the world we say we want to leave our children and the one we are actually creating through the decisions we make today. And it calls into question our capacity to take explicit and intentional action to shape our own future rather than to simply react to circumstances, allowing by default our future to become a matter of chance. It’s time to fight for salmon. It’s time to fight for us. It’s time to fight for our future.”
    — John Kitzhaber, former governor of Oregon, currently running for a third term

    On the heels of the catastrophic oil spill that is crushing wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama administration is poised to make a decision this week that could change the fate of endangered species in this country.  On Thursday, May 20, the Administration will release a federal salmon plan that will do one of two things for endangered wildlife: protect the Endangered Species Act, or weaken it. A decision to weaken the ESA for the West’s iconic Columbia and Snake River salmon could send an ecological ripple across the country — affecting every endangered species in the nation.And the situation doesn’t look good.  Instead of charting its own path, the administration is working off an illegal Bush administration plan for endangered salmon.

    [Salmon moving upstream. Photo: © University of Washington, Thomas Quinn]

    Continue reading "Will Obama Dam Salmon to Extinction?" »

    The Tin Shed Gets Tuned Up for Spring

    Tin Shed S10 We’re sliding open the doors to the Shed and sweeping it clean this spring. Tune into the season with a fresh batch of stories from our friends and ambassadors out in the wild – in videos, audio and written word. And don’t worry, just like our favorite winter sweaters, we’ve found a place to stash all the cool-weather stories – you’ll find all of them in the Tin Shed archives by clicking "View All Stories" in the top right corner of the Shed.

    Here's a taste of what you'll find this spring:

    Border Country
    Jeremy Collins and Mikey Schaefer had been planning a new route on Yosemite Valley’s Middle Cathedral when they learned of the deaths of their good friends and fellow climbers, Jonny Copp and Micah Dash. Collins said, “They showed us to never give up, to go light, to go bold, and always live with passion.” He and Schaefer sent the route in their honor.

    Mongo Metal Pirates

    In Mongo Fly ’08, Mikey Wier takes us to remote Mongolian rivers in search of the massive taimen. Check out the trailer for Metalheadz, a new video from AEG Media on steelhead fishing in the Pacific Northwest. And see an excerpt from the ESPN series Pirates of the Flats featuring Yvon Chouinard and Bill Klyn pursuing bonefish in the Bahamas.

    Freedom to Roam and Awakening the Skeena

    Freedom to Roam portrays a long-term initiative dedicated to establishing migration wildways in the Americas and elsewhere for animals now threatened by global warming. In Awakening the Skeena, a young woman swims the length of a cold northern river to inspire communities in its watershed to come to its defense.

    Jeff Denholm: Ocean Calling

    A twist of fate changed Jeff Denholm’s life in the mid-90s, but his competitive drive hasn’t diminished. Watch as he trains for, and competes in, his first Moloka’I Challenge – the 32-mile race that’s considered paddleboarding’s unofficial world championship.

    The Simplest Solution

    After seeing a wiry Nepali porter carry a 100 lb load with the aid of a tumpline, Yvon Chouinard followed suit and strapped one over his head to relieve the strain of his heavy pack on his injured neck. Following that discovery, Yvon said, “I learned to try to find a simple solution first, rather than a techno-fix.”

    Patagonia Surfers in Indonesia

    Gerry Lopez, Wayne Lynch, Liz Clark, and Dan, Keith and Chris Malloy set out with Fletcher Chouinard on the Makimba to test his new boards in Indonesia’s Mentawai Islands off the coast of Sumatra.

    Northern Alps Traverse

    In August 2009, Maxime Turgeon set off on his bike and pedaled up the high mountain passes of the northern Alps in search of classic climbs to solo. After three weeks, six peaks, 770 miles of cycling, and over 42,000 feet of elevation gain, he dove into the Mediterranean Sea at the end of this human-powered journey.

    24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell

    Team of two take on the steep, gritty sandstone near Jasper, Arkansas, during a 24-hour climbing competition. Patagonia ambassadors Brittany Griffith and Kate Rutherford team up to show the boys some sass. The self-proclaimed alpinistos gordos, Colin Haley and Mikey Schaefer, used the marathon competition to jump-start their training.

    Drop by the Shed to feed your roots with classic tales, check out fresh footage from the cutting edge, and maybe find yourself a sweet deal on your next Patagonia purchase. Thanks for tuning in!

    Paddle Georgia Celebrates the South's Rivers

    Boats Georgia River Network is a long-time recipient of Patagonia's Environmental Grant support that has been working for years to ensure the health of their watersheds. Over the years, they've increased the number of people involved in the protection and management of Georgia's waters by improving awareness of the issues that threaten the state's waters, setting up a network of resource and information exchange, and most importantly, having fun. Paddle Georgia is the group's annual week-long, on-water festival. Here's more about the event from GRN's Watershed Support Coordinator, Jesslyn Shields:


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    “We catched fish and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness. It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big, still river, laying on our backs looking up at the stars, and we didn't ever feel like talking loud, and it warn't often that we laughed—only a little kind of a low chuckle.”
                                                                               --Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
    The boats have spent all night under a Georgia State Highway bridge, resting cheek-to-jowl in the midsummer dew, supervised by an off-duty police officer. There are hundreds of them—kayaks and some canoes—patterning the banks of the Coosawattee River like a psychedelic parquet floor. At about 6:30 AM, a black Volkswagen pulls up and a bluff, sunburned redhead named April gets out, dismisses the cop and starts rummaging around in the trunk of her station wagon.

    Shortly, a school bus arrives, and people file out: surgeons, refrigerator salesmen, a shy German couple, inner city kids, cattle farmers, retired people with high-tech binoculars hanging from their necks, suburban families. They stumble and pick through the aggregate of candy-colored boats, and, finding their own craft, drag it down to the water. They lose their towel-camera-lunch-sunglasses, they shout questions over the heads of others that have to be repeated, they laugh giddily with a friend over a cup of coffee spilled down the front of a bathing suit, they find their towel-camera-lunch-sunglasses, they threaten their kids with the count of three to put on their PFDs and get in the canoe.

    In the meantime, another school bus arrives, and eventually another, and another. During all of thise, April is checking peoples’ names before they get into their boats, and one by one they slide into the water and disappear behind a bend in the river. Today, there will be 15 . . .
    [Canoes and kayaks await their riders at a Paddle Georgia launch site on the Etowah River in 2006. Photo: Joe Cook.]

    Continue reading "Paddle Georgia Celebrates the South's Rivers" »

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