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    The Labyrinth - an excerpt from Best Women's Travel Writing 2011

    From The Best Women’s Travel Writing 2011 - an excerpt from “The Labyrinth,” a story about surviving Costa Rican heartbreak and whitewater by Bridget Crocker, Patagonia copy writer. Bridget and fellow BWTW11 contributors will be reading at Diesel, A Bookstore in Malibu on Sun., Dec. 4 at 3p.m.

    Demin BW Portrait Bridget
    [Author and river guide, Bridget Crocker. Photo by Tony Demin.]

    “This upper section is called ‘The Labyrinth,’” Roland says, cinching down his frayed lifejacket. “It’s been run maybe three or four times before today. I’ve seen it a couple times and I’d say it’s pretty solid Class V. Lots of steep drops through tight chutes. There are a few slots we have to make—it’s not an option to miss them. I think I can remember them all, but we’ll have to scout as we go. There’s no way out of the gorge once we start.”

    Normally I would be anxious about taking a flaccid shredder down a little-run Class V boulder garden without the safety of other boaters along or even an evacuation route. Plus, Roland forgot his helmet and we have no throw bag. Oddly, I couldn’t care less. I feel no hint of the usual Class V jitters or concern for our lack of preparedness. It occurs to me that I may be spared a trip to Cathedral Point, as our little daytrip down the Labyrinth is suicidal enough.

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    Opening Night at the Tin Shed on Broadway

    - By Jeff DiNunzio

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    [The crowd gathers at opening night of the Tin Shed on Broadway. All photos: Anthony Garcia]

    The crowd arrived Friday to join us in welcoming Jon Swift. He had been touring steadily, and this was his last performance before a much needed break. He had flown east to help celebrate the opening of Patagonia’s Tin Shed on Broadway—one of two interim stores we opened in New York for the holiday season. Two-hundred people had come, some by accident, to join Swift in the party. The experiment was underway.

    The Broadway Tin Shed sits smack between West 99th and 100th Streets, with Columbia University to the north, another Patagonia store 20 blocks south, Central Park to the east, the Hudson at its west, and a logjam of baby strollers right out front. “Tin Shed” is a reference to the days Yvon Chouinard first built rock climbing tools in his blacksmith shop in Ventura, CA. To see the structure in person is to recognize the connection immediately – a small corrugated shack, it looks like something a couple of the guys might throw together in an afternoon to keep the drizzle out of their beer while they tinkered around with their toys. A carcass of retail space on the Upper West Side was reincarnated in about a month. The Broadway store opened two weeks ago, followed by the Upper East Side this past Sunday.

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    Mother's Milk - A Runner's Story

    - by Kevin Alldredge

    I arrived in Knoxville early afternoon on Wednesday to spend some time with my mother before the Rock Creek Stump Jump 50K in Chattanooga on Saturday (Oct. 1st). I picked up the rental car and drove to Manorhouse, her assisted living home. Mom has severe dementia and is physically frail, no longer capable of performing even the most basic tasks necessary to sustain herself.  She smiled when she saw me.

    KA_photo1Nice…she still recognizes me. No doubt my brother Greg had reminded her several times that I would be here today. But for Mom to process and store that information for recall later might be, I fear, like explaining the Three Laws of Thermodynamics to Muriel, my five-year-old, and then expecting her to write an analysis of my lecture.

    I pushed Mom in her wheelchair around the building and grounds, and then fed her dinner. It had been a good afternoon and evening; Mom was smiling and seemed content. Her verbal skills these days consist mainly of a cascade of sounds, with an occasional string of two or three identifiable words, almost expressing a half thought.  Not too long ago, these sounds had been intelligible speech. Now, though, only her tone and facial expression suggest contentment, frustration or anger, statement or question. I always answer Mom with a smile and some response that most likely bears no relationship to what she attempted to say or ask.  Nonetheless, she usually seems satisfied with my “Oh yes, I think so, Mom”, or “No, no, we’d better not do that, Mom.”  Greg, who lives nearby, and sees her daily is Mom’s primary family link and caregiver. (He is scheduled for knee surgery this afternoon, thus probably putting all of his running days in his rearview mirror. So sorry, dude.) He always helps coach and prepare me on what to expect for my upcoming visits with Mom.

    [The author's mother in 2006, with her grandchildren, Muriel and Ansel. Photo: Kevin Alldredge.]

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    Exploding Freezer Beer Pasta

    by Brittany Griffith

    [Another inspired creation is ready for a final toasting in the oven. All photos: Brittany Griffith]

    We leave for Sicily tomorrow and I have to admit that despite new-route potential on 300-meter-tall Mediterranean seaside cliffs, I’m almost as excited to eat and drink wine. I read in the Lonely Planet guide that, “Most Sicilian dishes fall into the category of cucina povera (cooking of the poor), featuring cheap and plentiful ingredients.” Sounds like a perfect dirtbag diet to me!

    I’ll no doubt come home with some great new ideas for dirtbag cooking, but until then, here’s another favorite of mine that is simple, tasty, and most importantly, uses only a couple of dishes.

    Exploding-Freezer Beer Pasta Recipe

    It’s a common occurrence at our house in Salt Lake City; a guest goes to the liquor store to get “real beer” (non 3.2 grocery-store beer), discovers that it’s impossible to purchase chilled “real beer” (yet another convoluted Utah liquor law), buys it anyway, brings it back home, becomes too impatient to wait until it chills in the refrigerator, puts it in the freezer, pilfers our liquor cabinet in the meantime, knocks back a few fingers of our best tequila, forgets about the beer in the freezer, and I find said beer in freezer the next morning when I go looking for the coffee.

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    Protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for Good - Speak Out Now

    by Ron Hunter

    The push to open Alaska's pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to development has been at the center of numerous debates, but public outcry has consistently supported its protection and preservation. At last, citizens have a chance to secure protection for a landscape known for its bounty of untarnished treasures. Ron Hunter, of Patagonia's environmental team, brings us the latest from the Alaska Wilderness League's efforts to secure permanent protection for The Refuge: - Ed

    [Camping near the Canning River and its western tributary, the Marsh Fork. Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. Photo: Ron Hunter]

    One of the great American "inventions" of the 20th century is the idea that some land should be permanently protected for its natural value. The Wilderness Act of 1964 made it the national policy of the United States to preserve areas of wilderness on federal lands. If there is any place deserving of being declared Wilderness it is the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Biologists call the coastal plain the "biological heart" of the Arctic Refuge. For 30 years, development interests have spent millions in an attempt to open this special place to oil and gas development, and year after year a majority of the American people has stopped them. We must continue to work toward permanent protection of this national treasure, the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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    Halloween Bloodbath (?)

    by Kelly Cordes

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    [Parking lot Limbo. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    "It's gonna be a bloodbath!"

    The words rocked me back to my mullet years in the 80s, back in high school, central Pennsylvania. "Oh my," Mean Gene would usually add. I'm talking about Mean Gene Okerlund, the rounded, balding, deadpan serious WWF announcer. As you know, WWF would later become WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment, rather than Federation), and things would never be the same. It's when rasslin' lost its soul, became all about the money and show instead of love of the sport. As a former diehard professional wrestling fan (today I can no longer bear witness to the charade it has become), I feel qualified in my assessment, and not just because of my mullet – I attended multiple events live. Like Mean Gene, I kept it real. I once shook the massive hand of Andre the Giant (RIP), got the Junkyard Dog's autograph in a bar, got spit on by one of the Samoans, and chased by George the Animal Steele (at the shows in Altoona, Pennsylvania, they sometimes eschewed fan restraints, unthinkable as it seems given the IQ and behavioral tendencies of most [emphasis mine] 'rasslin fans). Anyway, when Mean Gene talked bloodbaths, he usually spoke of an upcoming steel cage match, as in, "This Saturday night, at the West Virginia state fairgrounds, Superfly Snuka and Rowdy Roddy Piper, in the steel cage! It's gonna be a bloodbath, ladies and gentlemen!" Oops, almost forgot: "Oh my."

    "Dude, there's gonna be Gremlins swinging from the rafters," Josh said next, snapping me out of my 1986 nostalgia. Josh Nielsen, who manages Patagonia's ambassador team (not unlike herding cats), was telling me about the upcoming all-company Halloween party.

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    Gallery: Chris Burkard Surf Photography

    "I think we say a lot about who we are through our work."
    --Chris Burkard

    One of the joys of working at Patagonia is dropping by the photo department and peeking at the recent submissions. We share the best of the best in our catalogs and on our website, and they never fail to inspire us.

    One of the many photographers we’re grateful to work with is Chris Burkard from California's Central Coast. You've no doubt seen his work in our print catalogs and our new digital surf catalog. Chris kindly shared some of his photos with us for today's post and a video that captures the spirit of his work.

    Hit the jump to see the photos. Warning: after viewing, the urge to shut off your computer and go surfing will be extremely difficult to resist.

    [Video: Chris Burkard - Photographer from LONELYLEAP.]

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    Celebrating Our 12th Tools for Grassroots Activists Conference

    [Leaders of grassroots environmental groups from around the country (and the world!) gather at the Stanford Sierra Camp to learn the latest tactics and techniques to aid in their ongoing work. All photos: Tim Davis]

    On the list of points of pride that come with working for Patagonia, the Tools for Grassroots Activists Conference is near the top. As an employee, I’ve known about it for years, but as with many of our environmental initiatives, it’s a largely altruistic affair. The tools presented at this conference are, after all, for the activists who are on the front lines of today’s environmental issues. And what this means for employees is this: most of us don’t get to go.

    Every job eventually feels like a grind, and there are plenty of work days that can leave one feeling pretty far from things like “meaning” and “purpose.” But it's things like our Tools Conference that provide meaning and purpose to the work we do here. I haven’t always felt a part of the difference that I know is being made at the Tools Conference, but attending this year’s gathering changed all of that.

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    Enduro Idiot

    “You guys are idiots,” Cousin Bob told us over the pay phone. “I’m coming to get you.”

    I don’t know which I do better, come up with stupid ideas or talk others into doing them. In my defense, I will say that my ideas seem a lot less stupid since being hobbled and wiser with age. Granted, I can’t say that the latter came on its own, versus being a de facto function of the former. But I’m getting smarter. Take, for example, last weekend. My good friend Craig Scariot (CFS) did the Kat’cina Mosa 100km mountain trail race. Me? I made margs and cheered him on (a.k.a. “crew” – when you’re as anti-social as CFS, that’s what you get).

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    [Hikers and runners along a trail in the Mont Blanc massif, France. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    OK, so I’m a huge fan of ultras – by the way, Krissy Moehl is defending her UTMB title and women’s course record (from 2009; race was cancelled last year) the last weekend of this month, so a big shout-out to Krissy - Gooooo Krissy, woohoo! – and, truth be told, I’m only a tiny bit jealous. I used to run, before shattering my leg. Used to be my favorite thing besides climbing. Little-known fact: I was the first woman finisher at the 1993 Seattle Marathon. In short, loathe though I am to admit it, I used to have a pony tail; and, of course, I have a girl’s name. So when I crossed the finish line, the announcer surely thought me an ugly girl and announced, “Let’s cheer home Kelly Cordes, this year’s first woman finisher!” I didn’t say a word – a person like me should take whatever he can get, and sometimes it’s the little victories in life that count.

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    30% Off Sale Happening Now!


    On now! 30% Off Sale at and participating Patagonia Retail Stores, now through July 27, 2011.* Offer valid in USA only.

    Shop the Sale at

    Get hours and directions to your nearest Patagonia Retail Store

    *Sale limited to stock on hand. Offer valid in USA only. Sale prices apply only to Patagonia® merchandise on days specified. Patagonia Outlets are not participating in the sale. New for fall items, surfboards, wetsuits, wetsuit accessories, DVD’s, books, Frisbee Whirl, mugs, water bottles, gift cards, gift bags, Carry Y’All Bags, repairs, and shipping are excluded. Not valid with any other offer. Sale ends July 27, 2011.

    [Fresh brats, roasted garlic, and Onion Creek, these citi-boys are living it up. Jonathan Thesenga and Brian Edmiston, on top The Citadel. Moab, Utah. Photo: ANDREW BURR]

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