The Cleanest Line

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    Curacao’s Big Oil and Big Tarpon

    By Brian Irwin

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    “Fish, two o’clock,” shouted Norman Chumaceiro, my guide to tarpon on the idyllic island of Curacao, 40 miles off the coast of Venezuela. “Now they’re at nine! And six. They’re everywhere!” he exclaimed.

    If anyone could help me come tight on a tarpon it’s Chumaceiro, who, along with his friend Albert Macares, are the only tarpon fishermen on the island. They spend most weekends angling for the king in the Schottegat harbor, just east of the Santa Anna Bay, where luxury cruise liners amble in and out, unloading thousands of tourists to the island every day to shop the strip of waterfront, candy-colored Dutch-style buildings. As I cast feverously to the rolling fish, hundreds of them, I couldn’t help but to notice that this harbor, while thronged with more tarpon than I’ve ever before seen, was coated with a thin slick of oil.

    Above: Norman Chumaceiro points to pods of tarpon, sometimes many dozen, in the Shottegat Harbor, Curacao. Photo: Brian Irwin

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    Mālama Honua: Hōkūleʻa’s Voyage of Hope

    By Jennifer Allen

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    “He waʻa he moku, he moku he waʻa,” is a Hawaiian proverb, meaning, “The canoe is an island, the island is a canoe.”  

    Centuries ago, Polynesian voyaging canoes were tools for survival, enabling islanders to find food and settle new lands. Life on the canoe was a microcosm of life on land. Everyone needed to care for one another and for the canoe in order to survive. The clearest modern-day expression of this truth is the Hawaiian double-hulled sailing canoe, Hōkūleʻa.

    Hōkūleʻa is sailed without modern instruments, using only the sun, moon, swells, birds, winds, and stars as natural guides. Her practice is one of pure sustainability, her mission, fully inspired. Since launching from Hilo in May 2014, Hōkūleʻa has crossed three oceans, four seas and eleven time zones—stopping in over fifty ports to connect with communities who care for the health of the oceans and our shared island, Earth. This worldwide voyage is known as Mālama Honua—to care for earth.

    Above: Sailing for over forty years now, Hōkūleʻa has ignited a sailing canoe renaissance in island communities throughout Polynesia. Photo: John Bilderback    

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    On the Road Again: Notes from the Spring 2016 Worn Wear Tour

    Words and photos by Donnie Hedden

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    I had forgotten about the highway head turns and hollars, the uncompromising loyalty to garments that are decades older than me, the vastness and variety of this continent. The chorus of Worn Wear sentiments sing: on the road again.

    Editor’s note: Oregon, British Columbia and Nevada residents can still catch Delia (the repair wagon) and the Worn Wear crew at a stop near you. Check the tour dates for details.   

    Above: Kern gets his kicks after a long drive. Photo: Donnie Hedden

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    We Can Be Both: Mothers at Work

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    Every day in America, women return to work after the birth of a child to find an unsupportive environment lacking on-site child care, lactation programs and paid medical leave. No wonder there is an alarming lack of women in positions of leadership, board rooms and public office. Women will never be able to effectively “lean in” without the proper economic, social and community support for the most critical work of all: raising the next generation. 

    Above: Taking a break from child care to hang out with mom. Patagonia HQ. Photo: Kyle Sparks

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    “Real Life” Science

    By Dylan Tomine

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    Both of my kids love their science classes in school, and Skyla often mentions wanting to be a marine biologist when she grows up. So when the field biologists from the Wild Fish Conservancy invited us to participate in some beach-seine sampling, as part of their project to assess juvenile salmon habitat around Puget Sound, we jumped at the opportunity.

    These guys were incredibly friendly and patient with the kids, happy to explain each process as they captured individual fish, measured and recorded them without harm, then placed them into another bucket for release once the netting was done. A great lesson in how science works in the field and the importance of consistent methodology.

    Above: Frank Staller, field technician for the Wild Fish Conservancy, explains the sampling process to Skyla and Weston. Puget Sound, Washington. Photo: Dylan Tomine  

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    The 2015–16 Patagonia Season ‘Patagonia d’Or’

    By Rolando “Rolo” Garibotti

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    While many historic climbs occurred this past season, if I were giving awards, my “Patagonia d’Or” would go to a selfless and lasting non-ascent.

    The momentum began in late 2014, with climber Steffan Gregory, who sent me an email: “I’m looking at returning to Chaltén next season and wanted to put some time in giving back. I am curious if you know if there is anything in the works regarding waste management. I’d be willing to write a grant for funding or help with an existing project.”

    Above: Descending from Cerro Fitz Roy we can see Laguna Capri in the center-right portion of the photo. The team chose to build their wilderness latrine at Laguna Capri because of its popularity with hikers and relatively close proximity to El Chaltén. Patagonia, Argentina. Photo: Dörte Pietron

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    Why Minnesota Can’t Afford Mining Near the Boundary Waters

    By Adam Fetcher

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    Patagonia has supported the work of Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness and the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters through grant funding, our employee environmental internship program, retail store events, product donations and an invitation to attend the 2015 Tools for Grassroots Activists Conference. You can read our past coverage on The Cleanest Line here and here. To learn more about how you can get involved, visit savetheboundarywaters.org.

    Growing up in Minnesota, I took the lakes for granted. To me, living in the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” meant summers at the cabin—waterskiing, fishing and family time on the dock. The lakes I knew were surrounded by houses and roads, and I remember falling asleep most nights to the gentle but persistent hum of motorboats wafting across the glassy water. (Almost as persistent as the hungry mosquitos buzzing around my ears at bedtime.) Even through the noise, I slept peacefully in the cool Northern Minnesota breeze.

    Above: Paddling toward shore, ready for a swim in the late afternoon. Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota. Photo: Adam Fetcher

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    Dirtbag Diaries Podcast: A Slosh in the Bucket

    By Fitz & Becca Cahall

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    Eric Johnson lives in Sturgis, South Dakota with his wife and three young daughters. He works as a high school English teacher. He’s responsible—well, most of the time.

    Half way into his thirties, Eric emptied his retirement account to buy a raft, despite the fact that he lives in a state without any navigable whitewater. Just over a year later, he found something too good to be true: a group of experienced guides advertising an open spot on a pre-season trip down Idaho’s Main Salmon.

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    Witness

    By Diane French

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    Fifteen minutes before my wedding, I’m standing in front of my sister in my dress. “Can you see it?” She scans me, tilting her head to each side. “No. Can’t see it. But here, take this anyway.”

    Two hours from now, when the hailstorm rolls in and turns my lips purple for all my wedding pictures, I’ll be wearing the brown wool wrap she’s handing me. But for now it’s draped over my arms to hide the road rash acquired just this morning on our pre-wedding mountain bike ride with the wedding party, when I clipped a handlebar in tight trees and ate it in the rock-choked dirt.

    Above: Between a rock and a hard pace, Diane French digs in for the stair section of the Backbone Trail. Salida, Colorado. Photo: Sacha Halenda

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    Save the Blue Heart of Europe: The Balkan Rivers story

    By Ulrich Eichelmann

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    The Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe is known for its Mediterranean beaches, past wars, corruption, ethnic conflicts and, to insiders, Slivovitz and ćevapi—the plum schnapps and traditional minced-meat dish of the region. Stories about the area are plentiful, but I want to tell you a different story—a story about beauty, diversity and uniqueness, and an imminent threat in disguise.

    It is a story about the rivers between Slovenia and Albania, which are the most intact on the entire continent. Wild rivers with extensive gravel banks, spectacular waterfalls, deep canyons, crystal clear streams full of fish, large alluvial forests where rare eagles nest, even karstic underground rivers. But, most amazingly, almost nobody knows about them. They’re a hidden treasure in the middle of 21st century Europe.

    Above: Vjosa River, Albania. Photo:Roland Dorozhani  

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