Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

It's a beautiful day! Get outside and love our planet! I have included an image of one of my favorite local outdoor play spots, Devils Lake. There's great hiking, climbing, swimming, (maybe it's too cold for that today...) and open space to picnic and toss a frisbee. Enjoy!


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Today is John Muir's birthday. I took a few moments today in between my classes to go visit his wooden clock which is on exhibit in the State Historical building on campus. (The State Historical Society is an amazing - and dare I say, secret - place on campus with one of the most spectacular libraries and reading rooms; I love the beautiful old building - and not just because I'm a history major) Anyway, if you ever get the chance to stop in and check out the small Muir exhibit, it really is worth it.

Muir isn't most well-known for his clocks, as amazing as they are. Most know Muir for his unmatched influence within the early American conservation movement; his conservation legacy lives on today in the Sierra Club and in the hearts of many Americans who have a passion for the outdoors and for protecting America's beautiful wild places.

Wisconsin is proud to claim Muir as a native: a Scottish immigrant whose parents settled near Portage, Muir spent his childhood playing in the roaming creeks and wooded hills of the central part of the state. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison (which has since named the wooded knoll just up the road from College Library "Muir Woods" in his memory), taking an unusual combination of classes, and excelling in botany and geology. Muir never graduated, and left school to travel to Canada, where he worked on and off and spent his free time wandering the natural landscapes of the north.

Though nature played an important role in young Muir's life, it wasn't until a factory accident temporarily blinded him at 29 years old that he truly realized how much he valued the natural world. Afraid that he had taken nature's beauty for granted, Muir set out on a hike from Indiana to Florida after his recovery. In September 1867, Muir set out for Florida by the "wildest, leafiest, and least trodden way I could find."

Muir's wanderings eventually brought him to Yosemite Valley, where he found what he called "the grandest of all temples of Nature". As Muir spent more time in Yosemite, he drew upon his education, which he mixed with his passion for nature, to study the area. His background with geology at UW-Madison aided him in developing a theory about the glacial formation of the Valley - an extremely advanced notion for the time. Muir settled in the Valley, and eventually he and a colleague and fellow alpinist formed the Sierra Club in 1892. The Sierra Club played an important role locally at first, by helping protect the Yosemite Valley and eventually helping to establish Yosemite as a National Park under the control of the Federal Government. The Sierra Club eventually expanded nationwide, and is known as America's earliest grassroots environmental organization.

Muir's role as the first President of the Sierra Club as well as his activist approach to the protection and conservation of Yosemite earned him nationwide recognition. President Theodore Roosevelt was impressed by Muir's vision and passion for the wilderness, and Muir even escorted Roosevelt on a backcountry tour of the park. Eventually, this close relationship helped Muir to convince Roosevelt that Yosemite needed the authority of federal government to continue to protect it.


So why, then, does Muir's legacy affect us here in Wisconsin? It might seem that Muir completely forgot about his home state after being swept off of his feet by the California wilderness. It was, after all, Wisconsin's natural beauty that helped foster Muir's passion for the outdoors. Though Muir concentrated most of his personal conservation efforts in Yosemite, his legacy of conservation continues throughout the nation, providing us Midwesterners (and everyone else, for that matter) with beautiful wild spaces to explore. I encourage you to check out the Sierra Club website and see if it is an organization that you are interested in supporting.

In the meantime, stop in and talk to us about new ways to get out and enjoy the wild places that Muir helped protect! We're constantly receiving shipments of new spring gear and clothing (I am particularly excited by the huge Black Diamond order that just came in - our climbing department is stocked to the brim). Plus, a lot of us employees have been spending our spare time out and about in the area, and can offer some great advice and ideas about trips and ways to get outside - it's supposed to be beautiful out this weekend!

Also, don't miss our upcoming events this weekend - there's a Chaco Arbor Day promotion (Buy One, Get One Tree) and a Preferred Customer Party (complete with live music, a beer tasting by Capitol Brewery, and ridiculous discounts and specials).

For now, I should probably stop writing about the history of Muir and start thinking about the papers I have due in my classes...oh, if only every class could be an environmental history class!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I've driven through Nebraska at least 14 times now. If you are unaware, the welcome sign boasts "Home of Arbor Day." This has always struck me as a little odd due to the apparent lack of trees in this plains state. Since Arbor day is imminent and here at Fontana we are doing a promotion, I thought there would be no better time to educate myself on the origin of Arbor day.

So, this is what I dug up...

Arbor Day was the vision of journalist/politician Julius Sterling Morton, who thought Nebraska's landscape and could benefit from the wide scale planting of trees. He was able to put his vision into action when he joined the Nebraska board of agriculture. The idea was well received, and thus April 10, 1872 became the 1st ever Arbor day. It was a huge success with over 1 million trees being planted in Nebraska. A second one took place six years later in 1884, and in 1885 Arbor Day became a legal holiday in Nebraska, the date was set as April 22nd to coincide with Morton's birthday. Since planting trees is and AWESOME idea, Arbor day was soon embraced by other states. Kansas, Tennessee, Minnesota, and Ohio were among the first on board, but eventually all 50 states had their own Arbor day...the dates varied a bit based on climate but the premise was the same.
Finally in 1970 Nixon formally declared Arbor day a federal holiday - setting the date at the third Friday in April.

So that's the quick rundown...and since we think it's great, this year we'll be teaming up with Chaco and the National Arbor Day Foundation for a BUY ONE GET ONE TREE promotion.

For every pair of Chacos purchased at either of our stores or at April 24th, 25th, and 26th we will plant a tree in one of our national forests! So get new kicks and do some good for the earth!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Twitter Daily Deal is please to announce that we will be offering a new service that will provide our most loyal customers with a link to a special deal everyday on that is good for 24 hours or until the product sells out.

Excited to get some great deals on Gear and Clothing from the top brands in the industry? Start following us on Twitter and you'll be the first to know when our new service launches in the next few days.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Fly Fishing Rendezvous Sat April 18th!

For the 3rd year now our west side location's assistant manager, and fly fishing guru, Craig Amacker has organized an EXCELLENT day of events and seminars to celebrate the sport of fly fishing. Here's the rundown:

The event takes place on Saturday April 18th, at Fontana's west side store, (7948 Tree Lane, Madison) lasts from 10 am to 6 pm, and is FREE.


10 - 11: Dane County Trout Stream Easements
Presenter: Topf Wells

11 - Noon: Fly fishing Wisconsin spring creeks
Presenter: Jim Bartelt

Noon - 1:30: Fly casting for Wisconsin spring creeks instruction
Presenter Jim Bartelt

1:30 - 2:30: Trout fishing Bernie, British Columbia
Presenter: Bob Harrison

2:30 - 3:30: Fly Casting Challenge! Distance and accuracy on 4 targets. Prizes awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.

3:30 - 4:30: Invasive species presentation. How to identify, prevent the spread, and keep them off your wading gear.
Presenter: Laura Breckenridge of the Wisconsin River Alliance

4:30 - 6: Happy hour featuring Redwood Creek wine, appetizers, and a showing of "Red Gold." A documentary on the Bristol Bay pebble mine.

In addition Tom Anderson, sales rep for Sage, Simms, and Rio will be on hand all day to answer questions and show the latest and greatest in gear. He'll also have the casting analyzer on hand to show us all how we can improve out casts.

The Wisconsin Chapter of Trout Unlimited will have an informational booth set up. Anyone who makes a donation of $25 or more to TUDARE (Trout Unlimited Driftless Area Restoration Effort) will receive a free Patagonia Trout Unlimited shirt.

We are excited to have several other non-profit organizations join us for the event. These groups will have informational booths set up: Federation of Fly Fishers, Wisconsin River Alliance, Dane County Parks, DNR Fisheries, and Dane County Natural Heritage Land Trust.

If you have any questions contact Craig at (608) 833-9191 or And oh yeah...if you're new to the sport, some advise...don't refer to your "fishing pole" or "bait" in front of Craig!

Cheers! Hope to see you all there!