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    Dirtbag Diaries: Rebirth of Belief

    By Fitz & Becca Cahall

    Dbd_70_rebirth_of_belief"We had the discussion around the campfire one night of trying to define 'what is wilderness'," John Stoneman remembers. "We determined that if you get hurt or you have a problem and there's really no way out, you're in the wilderness." Despite the fact that 29,000 people raft down the Colorado River every year, the Grand Canyon is still unquestionably that -- wilderness. But what happens if you do need to get out? When the one place you need to be is a thousand miles away and you are off the grid? In 2010, John put in at Lees Ferry and embarked upon the trip of a lifetime -- but not in the way he imagined. Today, we bring you a story about a race against time and the lengths that perfect strangers will go to help others in need. Buckle up.



    [Listen to "Rebirth of Belief" by The Dirtbag Diaries on Soundcloud]

    Visit dirtbagdiaries.com for links to past episodes, featured music and to pledge your support. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, RSS, SoundCloud and Stitcher, or connect with the Dirtbag Diaries community on Facebook and Twitter. The Dirtbag Diaries is a Duct Tape Then Beer production.

    [Graphic by Walker Cahall]

    Andre's Red Knickers – A Story About Boatmen's Rituals

    By Jeffe Aronson

    Jeffe_2

    “Hey, Reeg,” I say, watching him wading chest deep, offshore in the frigid river, well past sundown, when most normal river guides should be sipping scotch (as I happen to be). He is sponging off the scum line from his handmade dory, the Escalante, his beauty and dream.

    He looks up at my quizzical smile, offering up all I will get: his characteristically inscrutable look through a knowing gray beard and nothing more.

    He doesn’t talk much anyway, though I must admit he himself is probably expecting a typically smart-aleck comment from me. I must, of course, oblige. Over the years I’ve been observing, and finally have been drawn into participating in this little pre-Lava ceremony since I came to the Dories.

    [Above: The author and clients, thankfully still upright, in Hermit rapid’s Fifth Wave. Photo: Rick Box]

    Continue reading "Andre's Red Knickers – A Story About Boatmen's Rituals" »

    2013 5Point Film Festival Trailer



    Let's do this! From April 25 - 28, 2013 the 5Point Film Festival will take over your senses, transport you to another place and leave you inspired for adventure. Join us. Visit 5pointfilm.org for more information and tickets.

    [Video: 2013 5Point Film Festival Trailer from 5Point Film Festival.]

    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" »

    Africa-Americas Rowing Voyage – Four Guys in a 29-Foot Boat Rowing from Senegal to Miami

    By Hillary Fleming and the crew of the James Robert Hanssen

    Aerial_view

    When Patrick first called to tell me he’d been asked by his good friend Jordan to join the Africa-Americas rowing voyage I knew there was no way he would turn it down. Though he spent a few weeks mulling it over, he wasn’t fooling me. His biggest concern was missing out on his 5th season of Ski Patrol and the guarantee of fresh powder and the chance to throw dynamite across mountain tops.

    Patrick is not a waterman. Even though he spent years’ worth of mornings on the Long Island and Puget sounds as a competitive rower he always remained more tied to the mountains. During prep for the trip he would call me and talk about his crash courses in ocean weather, marine charts and nautical tools. I don’t think he ever spent a night at sea before this trip! I knew he’d be a pro in no time, he guided whitewater rafting trips with no previous experience, guided backpacking trips, was on ski patrol at Crystal Mountain for four seasons.

    I don’t know whether this trip will turn him into a salty dog looking for a live-aboard sailboat or make him run back to the mountains as fast as he can, but I know either way he’ll be glad he had the chance to be on the Oar Northwest team. And, as his protective older sister, I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys for him to be out there with. Sometimes I look at their location on the map, think, “they are literally a tiny dot in the middle of the ocean,” and then remember the great crew. Then, I’m just stoked to live vicariously through their adventure.

    Continue reading "Africa-Americas Rowing Voyage – Four Guys in a 29-Foot Boat Rowing from Senegal to Miami" »

    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" »

    Kalmiopsis Wilderness

    By Zachary Collier

    Rough and Ready Creek 1

    "Why wilderness? Because we like the taste of freedom. Because we like the smell of danger." ―Edward Abbey

    Wilderness means different things to different people. For some, heading out of cell phone range is enough to make them feel like Grizzly Adams, but the Wilderness Act, signed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, defines wilderness as more. In almost poetic prose the authors of the Act wrote:

    "A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain... an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence... which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions..."

    [Above: Rough and Ready Creek, just outside the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, is ripe for protection. All photos courtesy of Zachary Collier/Northwest Rafting Co.]

    Continue reading "Kalmiopsis Wilderness" »

    Taking the Oars

    By Bridget Crocker

    Bridget_Crocker_Zambezi_River

    Sometimes a woman has to paddle against the current.

    When I’d first met Doreen, last season, she was a highsider – a porter and training guide who helped weight the rafts through the Zambezi’s high-volume hydraulics. She was barely five feet tall and less than a hundred pounds, but as a highsider, Doreen carried heavy coolers, oars, and rafts in and out of the steep Batoka gorge, matching the men load for load. The other highsiders, all male, started complaining that she was taking more than her share, making it harder for them to provide for their families. Doreen didn’t have a family of her own, they argued, so she didn’t need the money like they did.
     
    It was decided that Doreen must quit being a highsider and become the manager’s “house girl” – and so she came to work for us, doing the washing, ironing, and floor polishing.

    [Above: Bridget Crocker and crew take on Rapid #8 (aka Midnight Diner). Zambezi River, Zambia. Photo: Greg Findley/Detour Destinations]

    Continue reading "Taking the Oars" »

    Don’t Wait for Good, Go Find It – Full Circle

    by Laurel Winterbourne

    Cover_1

    The world needs GOOD stories. Fortunately there are people like Trevor Clark who put it all on the line, travel thousands of miles and spend countless hours, days and months to get these stories out there. Trevor is an outdoor adventure photographer and friend of Patagonia who decided that he wanted to tell stories that mattered to him.

    After meeting Jessie Stone and hearing her story, there was no question in Trevor’s mind that this story needed to be told. Jessie is a professional whitewater kayaker and medical doctor who went to Uganda to paddle the Nile, but what she saw, changed the course of her life and the lives of many others.

    [Above: Dr. Jessie Stone is a member of the US Freestyle Kayak Team and a Medical Doctor. In 2004, she founded Soft Power Health to provide malaria education, prevention and control for the people of Uganda. Video frame: Trevor Clark]

    Continue reading "Don’t Wait for Good, Go Find It – Full Circle" »

    DamNation – Free-Flowing Again

    by Katie Klingsporn

    Damnation_condit_2

    A little over a year ago, a 125-foot-tall dam stood in Washington’s White Salmon River, a concrete plug with a serene reservoir at its back and a trickle of river spilling out downstream.

    But it’s hard to tell that today.

    The Condit Hydroelectric Dam, which was built in the early 1900s to harness the energy of the White Salmon for local industry, was blasted into the history books in October 2011 with 700 pounds of carefully placed dynamite.

    The explosion, part of a phased project orchestrated by dam operator Pacificorp as an alternative to building costly fish passages, released the White Salmon River in a torrent of muddy water, debris and sediment, draining Northwestern Lake in less than two hours and freeing the river for the first time in almost a century.

    Since that time, demolition crews have completed the removal of some 35,000 cubic yards of concrete, as well as logjams and other debris in the river.

    And when public-access restrictions were lifted in early November, a group of boaters, river activists, biologists, rafting guides and kayakers converged for a historic float.

    [Above: Washington’s White Salmon river was officially opened to boaters this month after the removal of the Condit Dam, and spawning salmon have already been spotted upstream for the first time in a century. Photos by Ben Knight/DamNation]

    Continue reading "DamNation – Free-Flowing Again" »

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