The Cleanest Line

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    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" »

    Dirtbag Diaries: Tales of Terror Volume 3

    by Fitz & Becca Cahall

    DBD_Tales_of_TerrorEver walked through the woods late at night and felt like you were being followed? Had a strange feeling about someone you just met? Or had an encounter with the strictly inexplicable that led you, abruptly, to pack up and bail? Often, we rationalize these instincts – just a bird in the trees cracking limbs, just a strange fellow with good intentions, or, well, our senses simply must have failed us. But what about when these warning signals don’t go off? Today, Micah McNulty, Trey Johnson, and George Braun bring us stories of the times that intuition didn’t kick in when maybe it should have.

    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to "Tales of Terror Vol. 3"
    (mp3 - right-click to download)

    Visit dirtbagdiaries.com to hear or download the music from today's podcast. You can subscribe to the show via iTunes and RSS, or connect with the Dirtbag Diaries community on Facebook and Twitter.

    And just like last year, our cuddly receptionist, Joyce, is ready to greet you at Patagonia HQ today. Just don't make her cry...

    Continue reading "Dirtbag Diaries: Tales of Terror Volume 3" »

    Patagonia Books Presents an Interview with Audrey Sutherland, Author of Paddling North

    Sutherland_17_2

    Our good friend Dale Hope took the long drive from Town out to the North Shore of O‘ahu and sat down with Audrey Sutherland. While they sat on her deck (which overlooks the surf break named Jocko’s, named after her son Jock) they talked about Audrey’s new book, Paddling North, just out from Patagonia Books. Here’s that conversation.

    DALE HOPE: Tell me about your latest book, Paddling North.

    Pn_coverAUDREY SUTHERLAND: It’s a story of a trip I took from Ketchikan around Revillagigedo Island and then across to Prince of Wales Island. I then hitchhiked with my boat deflated and folded up from Hollis to Craig, and then continued on the water to Point Baker and across Sumner Strait. From there I went up to Kake and crossed over to Baranof Island, then on the outside of Chichagof Island. I ended up in Skagway via Icy Strait, Chatham Strait, and the Lynn Canal. That’s the actual boat right there, on the deck against the house.

    DALE HOPE: What inspired you to write about that trip?

    AUDREY SUTHERLAND: I keep journals on all my trips, whether the trip was to Moloka‘i or wherever. I have always kept a diary, even when I was a kid. I don’t know maybe it’s ego, but it helps if you want to remember something later. I’ve got diaries from way back, every trip I always kept a journal. Here’s one. What year is on there?

    DALE HOPE: Alaska Volume One. Wow, Audrey you wrote long stories, these are big journals.

    AUDREY SUTHERLAND: I wrote everyday in my journal: where I went, what I saw, what I ate….

    Continue reading "Patagonia Books Presents an Interview with Audrey Sutherland, Author of Paddling North" »

    Stand Up Paddling the Rivers of Australia with Zeb Walsh and Adam Colton

    Today we're featuring two rivers in Australia and two takes on stand up paddleboarding. First we'll hear about Zeb Walsh's (Patagonia Australia) one-day training run down the icy waters of the Snowy River. Then, Adam Colton (Long Treks on Skate Decks) takes us on a 30-day trip down the Murray.

    A Man In Snowy River 

    by Patagonia Australia & Zeb Walsh

    Snowy-river-paddle-705x466

    He was hard and tough and wiry — just the sort that won’t say die
    There was courage in his quick impatient tread;
    And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,
    And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.

    Originating from the high mountain peak of Kosciuszko, and draining down through the Eastern Slopes, The Snowy River winds 352 KM before reaching the Bass Strait.

    In far East Gippsland, an athletic physique approaches the shores, lead by an ambitious spirit and determination. His kind eyes intercept the flowing waters. This land is a part of Zeb’s birthright and what better way to connect with the river than to follow its flow. Setting out on a stand-up, paddling from Orbost, 20km downstream but into a nasty head wind, all the way to Marlo.

    Continue reading "Stand Up Paddling the Rivers of Australia with Zeb Walsh and Adam Colton" »

    Dirtbag Diaries: Stepping Stones

    by Fitz & Becca Cahall

    DBD_Ep58Jessie Stone has a resume that would make any dirtbag proud -- raft guide, pro whitewater kayaker and member of the US freestyle kayak team. At the end of that list is medical doctor. And the director of the Soft Power Health Clinic in Uganda. She is a career shape shifter. who followed her passions and ended up in an unexpected place. How do you know when it's time to step out of the current and follow an alternative path? Trevor Clark traveled to Uganda to tell Jessie's story.

    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to "Stepping Stones"
    (mp3 - right-click to download)


    Visit dirtbagdiaries.com for links to download the music from "Stepping Stones" 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]

     

    Misty Fjords and Whales - An Excerpt from "Paddling North" by Audrey Sutherland

    by Audrey Sutherland

    Pn_ch3

    Patagonia Books is proud to announce our latest release, Audrey Sutherland’s new book
    Paddling North, which describes her solo voyages along Alaska’s southeast coast in a nine-foot inflatable kayak. The book includes maps by Compass Projections and illustrations by Yoshiko Yamamoto and recipes by the author. Enjoy an excerpt from Chapter 3, "Misty Fjords and Whales."

    “Suddenly there was a big water sound ahead. It was not the sound of a salmon jumping. It was not a seal spotting me and doing an instant up-and-over dive. This was a huge volume of water. Coming toward me were two whales, heading south down the channel. Not the humpbacks that I knew from Hawai‘i, these were pure black, with a high narrow dorsal fin and a 10-foot span between spout and fin. Killer whales! I spun away and paddled fast toward the cliff, but there was no place to get ashore. The critic on my shoulder scolded the yellow-bellied paddler. “You don’t have to carry the yellow color scheme that far.” I turned and stroked parallel to them, but they had already passed.

    Disappointed, I turned back to the search for a hot spring. Five miles south of Saks Cove, said the USGS thermal springs book, and 200 feet inland. I came to a cove and landed. The major stream was farther south than the map indicated, but I found a smaller one that seemed possible, of a size that might have bubbled from just one spring. Its water was icy, but it would chill fast on this ground, so I crawled upstream, through the spiny devil’s club, under logs, through the water. Finally I stopped; 300 feet in half an hour. No steaming vapor showed ahead, no sign of the red algae that often grows near hot springs. I had no assurance a hot spring was still bubbling. The Geological Survey report was from a 1917 observation, and the 1980 NOAA report on hot springs of Alaska didn’t mention it. Until further reconnaissance, it will remain a mystery. I paddled on.

    Continue reading "Misty Fjords and Whales - An Excerpt from "Paddling North" by Audrey Sutherland" »

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