The Cleanest Line

Weblog for the employees, friends and customers of the outdoor clothing company Patagonia. Visit Patagonia.com to see what we do.

RSS Feed

Twitter

    Archives

    Search


    Running With My Devils

    By Steve Graepel

    _DSC2171

    I remember running the 50K and getting off course but fighting back into third place, and I remember that it was hot... hotter than hell. And then... and then nothing...

    I don’t remember collapsing. I have no memories of kicking off good-Samaritan runners who pinned me down to the Prairie floor. I have no recollection of coolers of ice poured over my torso... packed around my groin, armpits and neck. I don’t remember soiling myself. No memories of my clothes being cut from my body in front of dozens of strangers. No memories of the ambulance ride to the local clinic or the life-flight to the Mayo Clinic. I don’t remember any of it.

    Three days later I woke with a plastic tube shoved down my throat. “What the...” I tried to spit out, but the words slipped out as a groan.

    “Cough it out. Cough it out!” shouted a blue silhouette as the corrugated tube ripped across my vocal cords. I chased the tube with vomit and then heard the familiar voice of my wife, calming my anxiety.

    Above: Mike James in Hells Canyon, Idaho. All photos by Steve Graepel

    Continue reading "Running With My Devils" »

    The Measure of a Mountain

    By Steve Graepel

    St_helens_trip_03

    I remember the feeling more than the sound; a palpable ‘crack’ shattered through the bones of our house. At first we thought it was a car accident or maybe a gas explosion, but as we looked out the bay window to the north, we knew it was far worse... a mushroom cloud vigorously boiled up over the Portland skyline.

    The youngest of the Cascade volcanoes, Mount St. Helens has always had the geological temperament of a teenage girl, marked by no less than four Current Era outbursts rivaling that which we experienced the morning of May 18, 32 years ago today. The peak's personality played a prominent figure in Native American oral history. According to the Klickitats, she was caught in a love triangle with two brothers who destroyed villages and territory while vying for her attention. As punishment, the chief of the gods turned all three to stone: Adams to the north, Hood to the south, and Loowit, to the west, became Louwala-Clough—or smoking mountain.

    [Above: Mount St. Helens's yawning breach from the northwest. Photo: Steve Graepel]

    Continue reading "The Measure of a Mountain" »

    The Ptarmigan Traverse

    By Steve Graepel

    1_CascadePass

    Scott scrambles up to Cache Col and drops his pack besides mine. We've been moving just over two hours since the trailhead and have stopped to get our first glimpse at the route before us. Our goal is the Ptarmigan Traverse – a 35-mile off-piste, haute route traversing the southern upheaval of the North Cascades.

    This terra incognita was first explored in July of 1938 over a period of 13 days. The Ptarmigan Climbing Club made numerous first ascents along the route – an effort that is still recognized as one of the greatest feats in the North Cascades… ever. Their report was never published, and due to tumultuous world events, the traverse wasn't repeated for 15 years. In September of 1953, Dale Cole, Bob Grant, Mike Hane, Erick Karlsson and Tom Miller reversed the route and published their report in The Mountaineer. It was this second traverse that turned the Ptarmigan Traverse into the classic it is known as today. Miller’s photos were published as a book, The North Cascades (1964), and later submitted as supporting documents in a bill sent to Congress that established the North Cascades as a National Park (1968).

    [Above: The author jogs up to Cache Col from Cascade Pass. All photos courtesy of Steve Graepel]

    Continue reading "The Ptarmigan Traverse" »

    Backyard Adventures: Pioneer Trifecta (aka. Fatherhood Shakedown)

    Jj_Hyndman A little over a year ago, we invited readers to submit stories of their own Backyard Adventures and announced a deadline of January 9th, 2009. Here we are in 2010, and still (happily) receiving submissions. Today's post is from previous Backyard Adventure contributor Steve Graepel, author of an earlier piece about traversing central Idaho's Sawtooth Range. Steve's been working hard on his plan to thread a 900+ mile route through Idaho's wilderness by foot, raft and mountain bike. This installment of Steve's Backyard Adventures could be considered a recon-mission for his big trip, but with a new baby on the way, Steve had something different in mind . . .

    __________________________

    After ten years of marriage, life finds a comfortable rhythm; it’s a well-tuned circuit of work, exercise and leisure.

    And then along comes your first child...

    "It will change your life...your life will never be the same...parenthood gives back so much more than you put into it...". Growing wary of the overabundance of encouragement, or perhaps out of sheer panic, I jumped at the chance to get lost during the baby shower. There aren’t many problems you can't solve after an 8.5 hour push.

    I wanted to knock out a trip I'd heard rumors of. Nestled in Sun Valley's backyard, three hours from Boise, the "Pios" court those with a zest for adventure. . . .

    [Above: The view of Hyndman Peak from Cobb's south face. Photo: James Just]

    Continue reading "Backyard Adventures: Pioneer Trifecta (aka. Fatherhood Shakedown)" »

    Backyard Adventures: The Sawtooth Traverse

    Morning after Central Idaho's Sawtooth Mountain Range offer a stellar backyard for Steve Graepel's adventures. A Boise resident, he wedges his endurance training around family and a full-time job. His Backyard Adventure gives us a glimpse at a beautiful section of country to be included in one of his bigger projects: connecting 1,200 miles across Idaho’s backcountry by foot, raft and mountain bike. We can't wait to read that Backyard Adventure. Until then, here's Steve in the Sawtooths.
    _______________________________________

    “Steve, I’ve got an idea ...”

    This is how it always starts. One of us drops the bait. Only this time it wasn’t me.

    Alice lake2 Scott and I have both been caught up with middle management - middle life. He runs a lab in the Bay area, and I've been tasked with leading a creative department at my place of work. Our schedules have been forged out of early mornings and late nights. Workouts squeezed between bottles and diapers.  We've both grown soft under our heavy shells of work, kids and family, barnacled with noon-meetings and mortgages...second mortgages. Our early trips together, traveling to climb in far-flung ranges have become cob-webbed memories and we now feel fortunate when we can carve out a weekend together every other year or so. As incentive to extract us from the grind of our day jobs, Scott makes the pitch.

    “Let’s do the Wonderland...in two days.”

    Like carp to corn, I’m hooked.

    [Top, Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains in early morning light, as seen from the author's bike after running over 40 miles of trail to traverse the length of the range. Above, the route as it runs past an un-named lake below Alice Lake. Photo: Steve Graepel.]

    Continue reading "Backyard Adventures: The Sawtooth Traverse" »

    One Percent for the Planet
    © 2010 Patagonia, Inc.