Rank #1: Social Creatures
Allison Fowle has always been an introvert. So the idea of spending an entire summer in the wilderness was highly appealing.
But during her time in the mountains of Idaho, she began to rethink her appetite for solitude.
On this episode, she shares the story of her final days in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. During those final days, something happened that shook her to the core and changed her thinking on “alone time.”
Nov 28 2019
Rank #2: Meet the Ambassadors
Post-partum depression. Anxiety over gender identity. Anorexia. Struggles with weight. A cancer diagnosis during pregnancy.
The first cohort of Out There ambassadors have very real challenges to talk about, despite some of the gorgeous photos they’re posting on social media.
Our ambassadors are listeners who are volunteering their time to help spark discussions amongst the Out There community, and introduce the show to new listeners. Today, we let each of them tell you a little about themselves. They talk about their hopes, their dreams, their struggles — all the very real things they’re dealing with as they navigate this crazy world we live in.
Their stories are raw and vulnerable and sad and beautiful, and — fair warning — you’ll likely be in tears by the end of the episode.
Jan 18 2019
Rank #3: A New Identity
Fresh out of college, Brendan Leonard was an alcoholic. A total mess.
And -- spoiler alert -- he got sober. But drinking had been his favorite thing; it was what defined him. After alcohol was taken away from him, he didn't know who he was anymore.
On this episode, he joins me to talk about the difficult process of creating a new life for himself. For Brendan, that new life came about in the outdoors, through rock climbing. And it happened completely by accident.
Oct 13 2016
Rank #4: The Outsider
Producer Jackie Sojico brings us a story about a man who doesn’t fit the description of a traditional “outdoorsman.” It’s a story about trying to do something you love, when you don’t look the part. And it's about making space for yourself in a world that excludes you.
Feb 16 2017
Rank #5: The Desert Half
Brooklyn-based writer Rebecca Worby first visited Moab in 2011. The small Utah town, surrounded by some of the country's most stunning desert landscapes, stole her heart immediately. But Rebecca's love affair with Moab was complicated, because her real life was rooted thousands of miles away, in New York City.
On this episode, she shares her story. It’s a story about falling in love -- with a place, and maybe also with a person. And it's about the difficult question of whether you should live in the place you love.
Jan 05 2017
Rank #6: Firefighting While Female
Linda Strader was one of the first women to become a wildland firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service. Her book Summers of Fire documents that experience, and she joins me on this episode to talk about it.
We explore what it was like entering a male-dominated field in the 1970s, and we talk about the tough realization that being liked is not the same as being respected.
Nov 14 2019
Rank #7: The Sand Is For Me
Mari Andrew was leading a charmed existence. At 30 years old, she had a book deal, was living in Spain, learning Flamenco, and making a living through her art.
And then one day, she came down with a mysterious disease. A disease that would turn Mari's life on its head.
The illness kept her hospitalized for a month -- and disabled long after that. It took her away from the things she loved and shattered her sense of identity.
But it also resulted in something unexpected: a relationship with the natural world that was as powerful as it was surprising.
Producer Greta Weber brings us Mari's story.
Dec 07 2017
Rank #8: Failure in Success
We’ve gotten a lot of new listeners in the past few months, so this week, we're playing a story that some of you may have missed. It ran back in 2015, when the show was still very new, and it won a national award last year.
The story is about a 70-mile mountain bike race called the Laramie Enduro. I've always liked big athletic challenges, but signing up for this race turned out to be a big mistake. This is the story of that mistake. It's a story about trying to prove yourself, about testing what you're capable of, and ultimately about learning when to say no.
Apr 20 2017
Rank #9: Should I drop everything and move into a van?
On this installment of our advice segment, we address a question about making a huge life change. A listener named Where Am I Going writes of his disillusionment with his corporate job, and shares his dreams to live a nomadic lifestyle. But taking the leap feels reckless to him — and would almost certainly mean ending his long-term relationship.
"How can I identify with confidence what is going to make me the most happy in the long term?" he asks.
Jun 28 2018
Rank #10: Small Beauty on the Appalachian Trail
What's it like doing something that People Like You almost never do?
This week, we introduce you to another outdoor podcast we think you'll love: She Explores. We chat with the host, Gale Straub, and share her thought-provoking interview with Rahawa Haile, a black woman who thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2016.
Rahawa is an Eritrean-American writer, and author of the essay “How Black Books Lit My Way Along the Appalachian Trail,” which was published on Buzzfeed.
As one of the few black women to thru hike in 2016, Rahawa talks about how her experience is different than the “typical” hiker. She explains that despite popular belief and best intentions, the Appalachian Trail isn’t a great equalizer.
Aug 17 2017
Rank #11: A Little Too Late
When Mary Roberts went on a backpacking trip in New Mexico's Sangre de Cristo mountains, she was looking for an epiphany — a vision that would help her sort out her troubled marriage and pull her back into happiness.
What happened out in the wilderness wasn't at all what she'd expected or hoped. The "vision" she got (if that's what you'd call it) was as perplexing as it was disturbing, and it seemed to have nothing to do with the problems she was trying to solve.
But as she would come to learn, sometimes it's the most perplexing events that affect us most profoundly.
On this episode, Mary shares her story.
Mar 15 2018
Rank #12: A Different Kind of Love
When Paula Davis went to Alaska to work with sled dogs, she had a storybook vision of what her life there would be like. There would be fur-filled cuddles, meaningful gazes, and nonstop dog kisses.
But of course, it wasn't that simple.
On this episode, Paula shares her story. It's about what happens when relationships don't turn out the way we'd hoped — and about how our expectations can hold us back in ways we'd never imagined.
Aug 02 2018
Rank #13: Fear and Loving
Outdoor adventures have a remarkable ability to instill a sense of confidence in us.
In 2009, Jackie Sofia went on a trip that did just that. It was a cross-country bike ride, which she was undertaking with dozens of other riders.
When she set off, Jackie was shy and socially anxious -- terrified by what she was about to do. Four thousand miles later, she had been forced out of her shell and fallen in love with risk taking. It was a transformation that would shape the course of her next few years, emboldening her to go places and achieve things she never would have dreamed of in the past. Suddenly, the world was full of possibilities.
But what happens when that newfound confidence gets shattered -- when you realize you might not be invincible?
On this episode, Jackie shares her story.
Aug 03 2017
Rank #14: The Right to Complain
In 2015, Australian journalist James Bennett moved to India, to take up a long-coveted role as a foreign correspondent.
James was an outdoorsy type: he liked to cycle, surf, camp, and fish. So he knew the move to India's crowded capital city was going to be hard. But what he didn’t realize was how the experience would change his perspective on speaking up about your problems.
On this episode, he shares his story.
Apr 19 2018
Rank #15: More Honest
When Benjamin Drachman announced that he wanted to keep an audio journal during his thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, his sister Julia saw an opportunity: Why not make it into a podcast?
Benjamin agreed to send her his recordings — all of them.
The resulting podcast is called The Attempt. Each episode, Julia weaves together highlights from Benjamin’s journal, to create a narrative about his journey. It’s a deeply personal account of a long-distance backpacking trip — one that makes you laugh, and cringe, and reflect on your own life choices.
On this episode of Out There, we give you a taste of The Attempt, and we talk with Julia about what it’s like telling such an intimate story about a sibling.
Oct 31 2019
Rank #16: The Nature Fix: Should I suck it up, to take care of my family?
On the first episode of our advice segment, The Nature Fix, we tackle a question from a listener who feels trapped in his own life. He's desperate to move away from a place he hates, but feels obligated to stay, in order to care for his daughter and elderly mother.
"I just want to stand in the middle of a stream, waders on, with my fly rod in hand and live out my last quarter," he writes. "But I am about 5.5 years away from retirement. But even then, will I be able to live my dream with Mom still living and daughter still single? Or should I relegate myself to dying in a state that I cannot stomach to live in, just to please everyone else?"
Apr 26 2018
Rank #17: When Nature Knows Best
Two years ago, I made a plan for how to rekindle my happiness.
A smothering melancholy had settled over my life at the time: I was reeling from the disintegration of a long-term relationship, and had been working myself to the bone as I struggled to start my own business. So I planned out a 500-mile bicycle trip through the mountains of Idaho.
I figured a tough solo adventure would clear my mind and wrench me out of my gloom. What I hadn't bargained for, was that the trip would break me.
On this episode, I share the story of what happened. It's a story about planning, and failing. And it's about learning to let go, and allowing the universe steer you in the right direction.
Oct 19 2017
Rank #18: Moral Compass
When Myles Osborne set out to climb Mt. Everest, he knew he was up against a dangerous mountain. What he didn't consider was that it might not be his own life on the line.
On this episode, producer Phoebe Flanigan brings us Myles' story. It's a story about what happens when your personal goals are pitted against the life of another person. And it's about how we make the toughest of moral decisions: whether or not to help someone who's nearly dead.
Mar 02 2017
Rank #19: Seeing the Forest through the Trees
Overachievement. The word conjures up specific kinds of feats: high grades, promotions, success in the traditional sense. Things that are unambiguously good.
But what happens when you realize the quest to achieve has been holding you back?
On this episode, producer Noam Osband shares the story of something surprising that happened while he was researching his PhD dissertation. His story that takes us from the hills of Arkansas to the forests of Canada, and introduces us to the world of migrant workers whose job it is to plant the trees that feed our timber industry.
It’s a story that questions our desire to get ahead, and shows what happens when you're willing to take your gaze away from your goal.
Jan 24 2019
Rank #20: We Followed Our Hearts
When it comes to making decisions, we often know what we should do. But then there's that little voice, urging you to throw caution to the wind. What happens when we give into that voice - when we make a decision that's clearly irrational - that everyone tells us is a mistake?
This is a story about young love, a cross-country road trip, and a tough question: whether you should follow your head or your heart.
Mar 01 2018