Have you ever dreamed of dropping everything to live in a remote cabin somewhere? Waking up to the smell of pine trees? Listening to the river from a rocking chair on the front porch?
Growing up, Becky Jensen wanted to be a writer, and she wanted to live in a little cabin in the woods. But then, real life happened, and her childhood aspirations faded.
On this episode, Becky takes us on an 18-year journey from life-threatening pregnancy to new motherhood, from marriage to divorce, from an existence centered around kids to a dogged pursuit of her own individuality.
Her story is about fledging the metaphorical nest, reconsidering neglected dreams, and redefining who you are.
Growing up, Lara McCaffrey loved going outside. But then one day, something happened that left her with a chilling fear of driving into the countryside. The open spaces she knew so well came to fill her with dread.
Over time, things only got worse.
On this episode, Lara shares her story. It’s a story about a paralyzing anxiety — and about the struggle to lead a “normal” life, when you feel too fragile to function.
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.”
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.
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.
When Fran Turauskis set off to hike the Camino de Santiago, she was frustrated by her lack of options. She had picked the trail because it was one of the only thru-hikes she felt she could safely undertake, given that she had epilepsy.
But what if a lack of options can actually be helpful?
On this episode, Fran shares her story. It's a story of coming terms with — and learning to appreciate — limitations.
When we talk about adventure, we often think of extreme endeavors. But what actually is an adventure? And why do some of us seek them out?
After a lifetime of chasing traditional adventures, Alastair wanted a different sort of challenge. So he set off on a journey across Spain, with the intention of earning his keep through busking. The trip was simultaneously safer and scarier than anything he’d done before, and it changed his view on what adventure means.
Wendy Villalta has spent most of her life trying to fit in.
Her biological parents are immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador, but at age 10, she was put into foster care and was later adopted by a white, Jewish family. So it’s no no surprise that her sense of identity took a while to solidify.
Most of us have had moments in our lives, when we felt we don’t belong. But what happens when you finally figure it out, only to realize that society doesn’t agree with you? How important is external validation?
Victoria Marin brings us the story.
Many people talk about the outdoors as an inexpensive place to play — a place where you don’t need money to have fun. But how true is that?
This episode comes to us from a woman named Charlsie Shaver, who yearns to build a life outdoors, but hasn't yet managed to do so.
Her story explores what it means to dream, and what it takes to make a change in your life.
On this episode, we introduce you to the newest cohort of Out There ambassadors, listeners who help spread the word about the podcast.
They come from wildly different backgrounds, but each feels that nature has rescued them in some way — that it's reshaped their lives.
On this episode, they share their stories: stories of bravery, of healing, of defying cultural expectations — and of finding your way in the world, with a little help from mother nature.
We live in a society that honors persistence. We celebrate people who tough it out and finish what they start.
But how do you know when you've taken it too far? Where is the line between a healthy amount of perseverance, and blind stubbornness?
Today's story is about learning when to drop out — both in a race, and in a relationship.
A lot of conservation efforts focus on the negative impacts people have on the environment. Humans are seen as an invasive species, and their presence is assumed to upset the natural balance.
But what if it’s not so clearcut?
On this episode, we explore what happens when conservation efforts end up having side effects that are, at best, questionable.
My guest is Michael Benanav, author of the book Himalaya Bound, which follows a group of nomads in India who are desperately clinging to an ancient way of life.
The Van Gujjars live in perfect harmony with nature, playing a vital role in their own ecosystem. But they’re under threat — ironically, due to conservation efforts.
My mother always told me I shouldn’t take “no” for an answer. If you don’t get what you want, she said, try again. Keep asking. Stick to your guns.
Growing up, I took that advice to heart: whatever the task at hand, I pushed forward with dogged determination.
But in 2018, a traumatic accident left me suddenly powerless to complete even the simplest of tasks. In the aftermath of that experience, my outlook on what it means to back down was turned on its head, and I started standing up for myself in a new way.
On this episode, I share that story.
On this episode, we bring you a guest story from the podcast Outlandish, a show that focuses on stories from our public lands.
The story is about a remarkable discovery that happened in the wilderness of Canada. It takes us behind the scenes on the hunt of a lifetime, and looks at the fascinating things we can learn about our past by exploring the places where glaciers have melted away.
In addition to the story, we bring you an interview with Liz Townley, the mastermind behind Outlandish. We talk with her about her show, and about the broader effort to get more Americans involved in shaping the future of our national forests.
Carolyn McDonald adores trees. She even spends time pondering what trees would say if they could talk.
But she’s not the typical outdoorsy type; the very idea of camping gives her the shivers.
On this episode, Carolyn shares her story. She takes us from rural North Carolina to the streets of Paris, and explores what it’s like to love nature in a manner that defies society’s expectations.
Most of us want to speed through the hard times; we want to get to a place where life feels smooth and easy.
But what if the line between good times and bad isn’t so clear? What if hardship can actually be enjoyable?
On this episode, Heather Daya Rideout takes us from the beaches of Thailand to the mountains of Maine, and tells of a an encounter with strangers on the Appalachian Trail that completely changed her perspective on pleasure and pain.
Growing up, Adrienne Lindholm was dead set against having children. She didn’t like kids, and she felt that parenthood would force her to give up the things she loved most in life.
But as time went on, her husband became more and more determined to start a family. Eventually, she was faced with an ultimatum: have kids, or lose her relationship.
Adrienne wrote a memoir called It Happened Like This, which chronicles her life in Alaska and her dilemma surrounding motherhood. She joins us on this episode to talk about it.
Shannon Prince comes from a family with a rich relationship to the natural world. Her Cherokee ancestors were skilled at using plants to heal the deepest of wounds, and Shannon grew up with the understanding that nature could — quite literally — save you.
But her family’s eco-literacy had been stripped away over the generations, and by the time Shannon came along, there wasn’t much left to teach her.
Yearning to rediscover forgotten knowledge, Shannon traveled across the world, to a place where ancient traditions were more intact than her own.
On this episode, she shares her story. It’s a story that takes us from Houston, Texas, to the remote meadows of Outer Mongolia. And it explores the surprising things that can happen to us on a personal level, when we attempt to preserve a way of life that’s slowly being stripped away.
We often hear about people escaping to nature as an antidote to stress. Quiet places can help us find inner peace, we’re told.
But what if it isn’t so simple for everyone? What if some people need busier urban environments — and not just for the career opportunities, or the lifestyle — but in order to feel at peace?
This episode draws us into one woman’s realization that living in a big city — a place that assaults your senses every time you walk outside — a place where the concept of ‘outside’ is about as far removed from nature as it gets — might be just what her soul has been searching for all along.
Alex Eggerking tells her story.
This episode is about control: control of wildfires, and control of your own life.
My guests are Alex Jablonski and Kahlil Hudson, producers the film Wildland.
We talk about the deeply personal forces that draw people to wildland firefighting; about the mental highs that come with the job; and about the surprising bonds that form between people who seem to have nothing in common.
Finally, we discuss how controlling nature can help you gain control over your own life, too.
Most of us want a life partner. But what if your soulmate never materializes?
On this episode, writer and photographer Mara Kuhn shares a story about being single well past the age when most of your peers are paired off.
It’s a story that takes us from the deep south to the highest peak in Colorado, and it explores why being single might actually make you happier.
We hear it again and again: relationships require compromise. But what happens when you realize you’ve been letting your own identity slip away, for the benefit of a relationship?
Today’s story, by Dani Harris, is about young love and a cross-country road trip, and it shows just how hard it can be to stand up for yourself when you care deeply about another person.
This is a story about our beliefs — about things we’re brought up to know to be true. Beliefs so strong and powerful that they shape the identity, culture, and attitudes of an entire nation.
We all have these kinds of beliefs — things we’ve been taught our entire lives. But what causes us to begin to question them?
On this episode, we have a guest story from Kerning Cultures, a podcast dissecting the complex narratives of the Middle East. It’s a story about what happens when we’re faced with a truth that contradicts our own.
Beth Jusino was neither outdoorsy nor religious, but, craving a break from her hectic life, she set her sights on the Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage route through Europe.
Her book Walking to the End of the World chronicles the trip, and she joins us to talk about it. Beth’s story is a testament to the beautiful things that can happen when you stop saying, “I could never do that.” And it’s a reminder that disentangling ourselves from our responsibilities and compulsions can help us thrive.
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.