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    Mile for Mile, Part 2 – The Run

    By Jeff Browning

    How do you tell the story of 106 miles in two days in a short and concise manner? It’s nearly impossible—similar to trying to restore an ecosystem and build a national park. So many little steps, so many little stories.

    Our route would take us through the new Patagonia Park. Starting north in the town of Chile Chico on the edge of the nearly 400,000-acre Jeinimeni Reserve, dropping into Valle Chacabuco on day one. Day two would take us through Valle Chacabuco to the Park’s headquarters, up and over Cerro Tamanguito and into the southern beech forests of Tamango National Reserve to end in the small village of Cochrane on the western edge of Lago Cochrane.

    Above: Mile for Mile: A Film About Trail Running and Conservation in Patagonia. Video: Rios Libres and Patagonia 

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    See You Out There

    By Craig Holloway

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    When I lived in Chicago I ran like there was no tomorrow. Sundays had me running long steady miles, Mondays were a set up for double-down Tuesdays, and Wednesday’s leg screaming repeats on the University of Illinois’s Circle Campus track provided the week’s endorphin highlight. A friend whom I trained with told me about ultramarathon running and thought I should give it a try. My first 50-kilometer trail run took place on a cool Kettle Moraine day. There were no cars to dodge, no pinballing between pedestrians, only bib-numbered souls encouraging each other along pine-scented singletrack.

    As I got more involved in the sport I learned that family and friends crewed and paced runners at 100 milers. Crews wait at aid stations with fresh shoes and clean gear. Pacers get their runners up big climbs, run with them through the night, and keep them running in the morning light. For most of the race, however, the runners are alone and it’s possible to take a wrong turn far away from any help. There is one runner I’d like to tell you about, a unique runner who found me after I had gotten lost during a 50K in the Sierra Nevada.

    Photo: Jeff Johnson

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    I Dream of Running

    By Greta Hyland

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    I dream of running, not figuratively but literally. In my dreams it is effortless, exhilarating. When I wake from these dreams I feel pumped and want to jump out of bed and run—there have been times at night when I have.

    For a while, running was a nightmare. I got tired. My legs felt like they were filled with sand. My lungs burned, everything hurt and I was miserable. I hated running.

    Then, one day it happened. I ran and it was exactly like my dreams.

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    Mile for Mile, Part 1 – Arrival at the new Patagonia Park [Updated]

    By Luke Nelson

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    The wind gusts, blowing spray from the water lapping on the banks of Lago General Carrera. Here I stand, eyes closed, feeling the cool mist on my sunburnt cheeks. When I open my eyes it’s still there, it feels like a dream, but it’s not—Patagonia spreads out all around me. I’ve long dreamt of seeing this place and now it’s blowing my mind. After imagining over and over what it would be like, how it would smell, how it would feel, it is far more than I had imagined it would be. The previous 39 hours have been a blur of driving, airports, flying, airports, loading gear, and more driving. But now it’s quiet, except the sound of the wind blowing across the lake.

    A little over four years ago, I finished a very challenging run through the heart of the Frank Church Wilderness area along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Ty Draney and I teamed up with Save Our Salmon to use a ridiculously long run to draw attention to that organization’s work to restore historic salmon runs. Despite our over-confidence and under-planning the run was a success—many people learned of the work being done through the story of our 154-mile journey.

    Above: Patagonia ambassadors Luke Nelson, Jeff Browning and Krissy Moehl get ready to hit the trails in the park for the first time. Patagonia Park, Aysén Region, Chile. Photo: James Q Martin

    Continue reading "Mile for Mile, Part 1 – Arrival at the new Patagonia Park [Updated]" »

    Red Shins

    By Craig Holloway

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    Back in February, I started volunteering for the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy (OVLC), a nonprofit that protects open space through land acquisitions and conservation easements. They have a number of preserves scattered across the valley and the Valley View Preserve was their newest one. OVLC volunteers had already built two trails on Valley View and were now building Luci's Trail. While I was out on a hike I met Bill Brothers, a volunteer who said they could use my help building Luci's. I asked when could I start.

    On my first day, Rick Bisaccia, the preserve manager, had six of us clear a thick stand of poison oak. One volunteer cut the branches back with a chainsaw while I used a pitchfork to toss aside the leafy debris, wearing only a T-shirt and shorts. Two days later a bumpy red rash appeared on my arms and shins then spread to my back and face. The skin-crawling dermatitis stayed with me for a month.

    Above: I love Luci's. Ojai Valley, California. Photo: Craig Holloway

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    Innovation and Wilderness

    By John Wallin

    Double Mtn, Arctic Refuge

    I started selling fleece for Patagonia in 1993, and for six years I worked in Washington D.C., Bozeman and Reno in various customer service functions. I had a blast, learned a ton about product and people and made a network of friends who are as important to me as my college cohorts. During this time, I also began to see myself as a wilderness activist.

    The Wilderness Act turns 50 this week and provides a welcome opportunity to reflect on a uniquely American innovation. The idea, novel at the time, that our wild lands are special and worthy of protection, is embedded in the language of the Act: “A wilderness… 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.” And more than almost any other law I can think of, the Wilderness Act has proved an adaptable tool for citizens to act as true patriots in the defense of their land. To date, more than 109 million acres have been protected in perpetuity as wilderness, which sounds like a lot, but in reality is only about 5% of the United States.

    Above: Camping along the Marsh Fork of the Canning River, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. All photos by Ron Hunter

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    Dirtbag Diaries Podcast: Widge

    By Fitz & Becca Cahall

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    “It’s like you’re scared to move forward—you just need something to give you a little nudge,” says Jonah Manning. “You can call it support, but, really it’s just like a little bit of a shove forward. And I’ll never forget it, because Widge was certainly that for me.”

    Today we bring you the story of Widge, the ultimate adventure partner. Sometimes when that metaphorical door of adventure opens, you need someone to walk through by your side.

     


    Listen to "Widge" 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]

     

    Winter Running

    By Rhonda Claridge

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    From my house, at 9,800 feet elevation in the Colorado Rockies, I have to run downhill first. Above is sealed under feet of unrunnable, soft, post-holing snow. So it’s downhill, passing beneath nine avalanche slidepaths on a snow-packed road, often in a howling, pushy wind that streams old snow around in phantoms. I wear neon colors so that drivers can see me emerging from those white squalls. Through my clothes, the blasts to my skin feel more like a burning than a chilling.

    As I descend, the open valley drops between the ridges, and conditions improve. I can see the road underfoot now, though it’s dark because of my sunglasses, necessary only to protect my eyeballs from being pelted. While I can see, I step on the crinkled tracks from tire treads and chains, which provide traction, or I stay in the loose snow on the road edges where there is no ice. Still, a leg shoots out wildly and my heart jumps as I find a way to get it back under me and recover my balance.

    [Above: Claridge descending between snow walls in the southern San Juan Mountains. Photo: Himay Palmer]

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    Inside/Outside: Questions for Patagonia St. Paul’s Kevin Alldredge

    Editor's note: Craig Holloway's interview series continues with some questions for Patagonia St. Paul store employee and ultrarunner, Kevin Alldredge, whose recent story about running 50 kilometers in a skirt generated a lot of smiles. Craig talked to Kevin about his job, family, passion for writing, and advice on how to run straight through Minnesota’s brutal winters.

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    Craig – Are you originally from the Midwest?

    Kevin – I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, but have lived in St. Paul since 1989. Without editorializing, the two cities are pretty much opposites.

    Craig – Have you been working at the Patagonia St. Paul store since it opened its doors?

    Kevin – Yes, I’ve been at the store since we opened in the summer of 2005 and it’s been a great ride. It’s tremendously gratifying to see the local community embracing Patagonia’s ethics.

    [Above: One short bus ride, one long train ride, and a friendly smile got Kevin to the starting line of the Le Grizz 50 Mile Run. Montana. Photo: Kevin Alldredge Collection]

    Continue reading "Inside/Outside: Questions for Patagonia St. Paul’s Kevin Alldredge" »

    With All Apologies to Krissy Moehl

    By Kevin Alldredge

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    I AM NOT A CROSSDRESSER! Okay, so running 50 kilometers in a skirt technically makes a man a crossdresser but I’m not compulsively one, the act was more spontaneous or, perhaps, situational.

    Robert and I had been discussing the upcoming Mt. Cheaha 50K – “The Race to The Top of Alabama” – and we’d arrived at a goal of 5:30. This would be a PR for each of us in this race, his eighth and my third. A week before the race, in an exchange of emails, Robert described his status as perhaps less than what would be required for a sub-5 1/2 hour Cheaha performance. I cryptically emailed him back and advised that that I’d arrive in Birmingham with a strategy. “Good,” he replied, “I need all the help I can get.”

    [Above: The field gets funky prior to the start. All photos: Brooke Nelson]

    Continue reading "With All Apologies to Krissy Moehl" »

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