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Out There

Out There is a podcast that explores big questions through intimate stories in the great outdoors.
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Jul 19, 2018

Cindy Gagnon was backcountry skiing in Canada when she was buried in an avalanche.

Just a few hours later, the people she was skiing with — her friends — acted like nothing had happened. They reveled in the fresh powder, hooting and hollering as they skied home. 

How could that be? And what did it mean?

This is a story about a type of denial we all engage in, whether in the wilderness or in our careers. It's a denial that simultaneously explains — and impedes — our ability for survival. And it might make you think twice about the decisions you make in the future.

Producer Bishop Sand, host of the new podcast Qualia, brings us the story.

Jul 5, 2018

Public Radio News Directors, Inc., a nation-wide association of radio professionals, recently honored Out There with a first-place award for our story The Instinct to Kill, which ran in January 2017. To celebrate, we thought we'd play you the story.

It's about one New Yorker's first experience hunting. And it looks at what it takes to actually pull the trigger. Is it something anyone is capable of? And if we can take a life, what does that say about us? How does it change us?

Sam Anderson brings us the story.

Jun 28, 2018

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 21, 2018

When Olivia Round set off on a cross-country bicycle trip, she told people she was doing it to have an adventure, or to take a semester off school. But her real reason was more personal, more urgent: she wanted to overcome a paralyzing fear. A fear of men.

On this episode, Olivia shares the story of one particular night on her journey. It's a story about a surprising encounter she had in the mountains of Colorado — and about what's actually possible when it comes to overcoming our deepest fears.

Jun 7, 2018

Jen Kinney wanted to be a strong, independent woman. She had just split up with her long-term partner, and she felt a powerful need to prove that she was capable — that she could make it by herself — that she could meet her own needs.

So she decided to take herself backpacking. Alone. 

She picked a 50-mile stretch of the Mountain To Sea Trail in North Carolina, and began planning meticulously. She worked through all the logistics, assembled her gear, packed everything she would need to provide for herself.

But what happened to her out in the mountains did not make her feel strong or capable. At least not right away.

The trip might not have been what she bargained for. But it left her with an important life lesson — a new understanding of what it means to take care of yourself.

May 31, 2018

On this episode of our advice segment, The Nature Fix, we respond to a question about fear.

A listener called Over My Head writes to us about a terrifying whitewater rafting trip she went on with her husband two years ago. The experience left her so rattled that she has not set foot in a raft again.

She wants to overcome her fear, in part because rafting is one of her husband's greatest passions — "so important it was in his wedding vows."

Our advice columnists offer some tips on mitigating fears, and discuss whether you should try to make yourself love what your partner loves.

May 17, 2018

Maya Kroth had her future all planned out: she and her boyfriend would move to Greece, where his family was from, they'd settle down in a beautiful village, lead an idyllic expat existence, maybe grow artichokes.

But that vision was shattered when the couple split up. No matter how good her life was, Maya just couldn't shake the breakup, or the loneliness she was left with.

Then, she took a trip to a small town in Greece. Alone. 

What happened there would change her perspective on the breakup — and on how to find happiness.

May 3, 2018

Camille von Kaenel lost her mother when she was just 18. Her mom’s death left a gaping hole in her life. But in the years that followed, Camille discovered things about her mother that would give her a whole new appreciation for the parent she lost.

On this episode, Camille shares her story. It's a story that takes us from the Swiss Alps to a volcano in Ecuador. And it shows us just how much we can learn about - and gain from - our loved ones, even in their absence.

Apr 26, 2018

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 19, 2018

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 5, 2018

We're thrilled to be launching a new segment on Out There: an advice series called The Nature Fix.

Nature has the power to help us make sense out of our lives - particularly those parts of our lives that are messy and scary and overwhelming. The Nature Fix is designed to harness that healing power of nature, and help you navigate this crazy world we live in. Each month, we'll use wisdom from the outdoors to address your most pressing personal questions.

On this episode, we introduce our wonderful new advice columnists, Becky Jensen and Angus Chen. And we dive right into advice giving, with questions about career, happiness, success, and work-life balance.

Mar 15, 2018

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 1, 2018

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.

Feb 15, 2018

When Bassam Tarazi set out to hike the 23-mile Presidential Traverse in New Hampshire, he wasn't worried. It was a nice summer day, he had a lifetime of mountaineering experience behind him, and compared to his other outdoor conquests, this would be easy.

But over the course of the next few hours, he would come to realize what a dangerous miscalculation he had made. It was a miscalculation that would scare him to the point of tears and would cause him question the value of his own confidence.

On this episode, he shares his story. It's a story about what happens when your inner teenager takes over -- when you cross the invisible line between confidence and cockiness.

Feb 1, 2018

Michael King was homeless, depressed, and drinking. Tabor was a lost, injured and hungry. One rainy night in Portland, Oregon, the two found each other.

Even though Michael had nothing to offer -- no money, no shelter -- he rescued the little cat. And she adopted him. 

On this episode, we talk with writer Britt Collins, who wrote a book chronicling their story. It's a story of love and tenderness, and of the surprising things that can happen when those who have nothing left to give, decide to give anyway.

Jan 18, 2018

Throughout most of her life, whenever things weren't going well, Susan Conrad's tendency was to run. She ran from one problem to the next, one job to the next, one man to the next. 

But seven years ago, she embarked on a trip that would change all that. She decided to kayak the Inside Passage, a 1,200-mile coastal route from Washington State to Alaska -- by herself.

On this episode, she shares her story. It's a story of a troubled past, and of a journey that changed the way she approaches life -- a journey that taught her patience, and showed her how to appreciate where she is -- right here, and right now.

Jan 4, 2018

On this episode, we bring you excerpts from an episode of Wild Ideas Worth Living, a podcast about people who have wild ideas and do them anyway.

We talk with host Shelby Stanger about her choice to give up a stable career in order to pursue her passion and launch her show. And we bring you excerpts from her interview with Rob Greenfield, a man who has created a life he loves through living with less.

Rob lives on $5,000 a year -- voluntarily. He has no credit card, no bills to pay; and he's undertaken challenges like producing zero waste while biking across the country.

Dec 21, 2017

When we lose a loved one, distracting ourselves can sometimes make grieving easier. We dive into work, school, hobbies — anything to keep our minds busy.

This often helps dull the pain. But it can also make you forget things you didn't think you could, like what your loved one looked or sounded like. And when you forget things like that, it’s almost worse than being sad.

Writer Lara McCaffrey had such an experience, and on this episode, she shares her story. It’s a story about trying to heal yourself in the wake of a devastating loss—and about the struggle to dull the pain, without losing that special connection with the person you’ve lost.

Dec 7, 2017

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.

Nov 28, 2017

On this episode, we preview some of the stories we have in the works, share feedback from you (our listeners), and introduce you to the people behind the scenes at Out There.

We also offer a vision for the future. We talk about what we want to build with Out There, what kind of company we hope to become, and how you fit into that picture.

Also, because it's Giving Tuesday, we're asking for your help in supporting Out There. Support comes in all different forms -- whether it's making a donation, writing us a review on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts, recommending the show to others, or buying Out There swag (which, by the way, is 20% off today; listen to the episode for the discount code!)

We are continually humbled by the kind words and generous contributions we receive from listeners, and we can't thank you enough for your support. Here's to many wonderful years to come!

Nov 16, 2017

Journalist Maya Kroth was in Mexico City this fall, when a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck.

Hundreds of people died; it was the deadliest quake in a generation. But in the weeks after the earthquake, Maya watched something happen out in the streets of Mexico City that made her think about disasters a little differently. 

As she would learn, tragedy has a way of bringing out the best in people -- a way of weaving us together into a giant invisible tapestry, held together by our common humanity.

Nov 2, 2017

Becky Jensen was that girl with the acne and the crooked teeth. The girl who always felt she had to hide, in order to be accepted.

As she grew older, even though her complexion improved, the emotional scars persisted. But last year, on a backpacking trip in Colorado, something happened that changed how Becky sees herself. 

On this episode, she shares that story. It's a story about one of those tiny moments that ends up having a profound impact on our lives. And it's about learning to accept your own beauty.

Oct 19, 2017

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 5, 2017

New York City isn't known for being bike friendly. The streets are busy, drivers are impatient, and pedestrians often clog the bike lanes. So if you're a cyclist, it often seems like raising your voice is the only way to get anywhere.

But last New Years, something happened on the Brooklyn Bridge that changed the way one New Yorker thinks about biking in the city. The man's name is Noam Osband, and on this episode, he shares his story. It's a story about how we communicate with strangers -- and about how to get what you want.

Sep 21, 2017

Kaleen Torbiak has tried to kill herself many times. She grew up in a troubled family, spent years struggling with depression, and was convinced that the world would be better off without her.

But one November day in 2015, everything changed. That day, Kaleen walked into the woods, determined to end her life -- and came out a few days later fighting to live. 

On this episode, reporter Heather Kitching explores what happened during those fateful days. The story gives us a glimpse into one woman's tortured mind, and examines what it takes to make a person want to live again.

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