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Out There

Award-winning podcast that explores big questions through intimate stories outdoors.
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Now displaying: 2020
Dec 31, 2020

On this episode: A story about a cyclist in NYC, which explores how to get what you want — the friendly way.

Plus, a vision for an outdoor utopia. In a perfect world, what would the outdoors look like? We hear from outdoor leaders and listeners about their version of perfection in nature.

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Dec 24, 2020

This year has been a time of profound isolation, and many of us are alone for the holidays.

But, hard as it may feel, being alone is not always bad.

This episode takes place in the desert in Utah back in 2015, and it explores how something sad and lonely can turn out to be an emotional victory.

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Dec 17, 2020

Grand adventures often change us. They help us process complicated emotions and work through our problems.

But what if the forward progress is temporary? What if all the good vibes end, when you return to the “real world”?

On this episode, Paul Barach shares the story of his Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike, and explores the difficult process of going home to a life that looks bleak and broken.

If you like this story, check out "The Tools to Thrive." It's a story about a thru-hike on the Camino de Santiago, and it explores whether nature is actually necessary for an emotional reset.

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Dec 10, 2020

Fresh out of college, Brendan Leonard was an alcoholic.

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 us to talk about the difficult process of creating a new life for himself. For Brendan, that new life came about through rock climbing. And it happened completely by accident.

Get featured on our New Years Episode!

Click here to send us a message describing your outdoor utopia. How do you feel in it? How is it different from now?

If you submit your voice memo by Dec. 16, we might air some or all of it on the show!

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Dec 3, 2020

When we pass people on the trail, we often exchange quick greetings, recognizing our fellow hikers and showing that we are no threat.

But sometimes — whether intentionally or not — the words we share with strangers in the wilderness end up being hurtful, or invasive. Sometimes, these exchanges exacerbate wounds created by a lifetime of discrimination.

On this episode, Barbara Jensen shares their experience as a gender-neutral hiker, and invites us to consider adopting a new trail etiquette.

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Dec 1, 2020

On this bonus episode, we talk with Mercy M'fon Shammah, founder of Wild Diversity, about her efforts to make the outdoors safe and welcoming for the BIPOC and LGBTQ communities.

We discuss how Out There is working to shift the narrative about "outdoorsy."

And we discuss how YOU can support fairness — both in nature, and in the workplace.

Nov 26, 2020

Becky Jensen had a lot of things going for her: sweet kids, a caring fiancé, a promising career. But deep down, she wasn't happy. So a few years ago, she left everything (and everyone) behind to thru-hike the Colorado Trail. By herself.

On this episode, she shares her story. It's a story about relationships — both with your family, and with yourself. And it's about the surprising things that can happen to those relationships when you do something selfish — something just for you.

Nov 19, 2020

In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt stood on the rim of the Grand Canyon and called for the area to be protected.

“Leave it as it is,” he said. “You cannot improve on it.”

Roosevelt went on to preserve an unprecedented 230 million acres of American land. But many of his achievements came at the expense of indigenous communities; conservation was coupled with genocide.

Our guest on this episode is David Gessner, author of the book Leave It As It Is. We discuss Roosevelt's ground-breaking efforts to save wild places, and explore how lessons from the past can help us create a new environmentalism that is more inclusive and just.

Nov 12, 2020

We often assume that scientists are not supposed to fall in love with their research subjects. They’re supposed to remain objective — to keep their feelings and emotions out of their work.

Wildlife researcher Joe Hutto did exactly the opposite. Over a decade ago, he embedded himself with a herd of deer in Wyoming. He figured the best way to understand an animal was essentially to become one of them.

This is the story of how he did that. It’s a story of love, curiosity, and sadness. And it’s about what happens when the line between fact and feeling becomes blurred.

On this episode, we also preview a new series that will highlight individuals and groups who are engaging with the outdoors in thought-provoking ways.

 

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Oct 29, 2020

Growing up, Erin Parisi knew she was a girl. But the body she was born with didn’t match. And she didn’t feel safe telling anyone her secret. It wasn’t until decades later that she finally mustered the courage to come out.

On this episode, we share Erin's story. It's a story that takes us from a small town in the U.S. to the the top of world's highest mountains, and explores what can happen when you decide to risk everything and become the person you know you are.

Oct 15, 2020

Derick Lugo was not a typical thru-hiker.

A suave, manicured New Yorker, he wasn’t into hiking and had never been camping. But one day, he decided to challenge himself by doing the Appalachian Trail.

Derick’s memoir, The Unlikely Thru-Hiker, is a delightfully cheerful account of his journey, and on this episode, he joins us to talk about it.

We discuss the warm welcome Derick received on the A.T. as a hiker of color; we talk about how the generosity he experienced on the trail shifted his habits back home; and we share the highly entertaining story behind his trail name. Plus: why you shouldn’t fear stepping outside your comfort zone.

Oct 1, 2020

In 2001, Donna Martino stuck a photo on her fridge. It was a picture from the newspaper of a handsome kayaker paddling through the surf.

A few months later, Donna matched with the man on a dating website. The rest is history.

We tend to assume that fairytale beginnings are a recipe for disaster. But sometimes, the world serves up a dose of schmaltz.

This story, by Out There production intern Aja Simpson, is about what happens when coincidences pile up, and strangers take a chance on each other.

Sep 17, 2020

Christine Boskoff was a mountaineer who pushed boundaries and set records.

She climbed mountains no North American woman had ever summited, and she was the only American woman to have reached the top of six of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks. She was also a well-respected guide.

But despite her impressive resume, Chris’s story went largely untold — until this year.

This spring, writer Johanna Garton published a book called Edge of the Map, chronicling Chris’s rise in the mountaineering world. Johanna joins us to talk about how Chris got her start, the challenges she faced as a woman in a man’s realm, and the complicated moral questions surrounding her death on a sacred mountain.

Sep 3, 2020

When David Klebosky was out in the desert earlier this year, he ended up being shot at. The gunfire wasn’t malicious, but there were bullets coming at him.

Yet David didn’t freak out.

This kind of response is typical for David; he always seems to remain calm in the face of stress.

On this episode, producer Max Wasserman delves into David’s past and explores what makes some of us so unflappable.

Aug 20, 2020

As a marine biologist, Colin Howe sees diversity as an indicator of health: the more diverse an ecosystem, the more likely it is to thrive.

But while scientists work hard to preserve diversity in the wild, they often fail to achieve it in the workplace.

Colin is one of just a handful of Black biologists in the United States. On this episode, we talk with him about pursuing his passion in a predominantly white field. And we discuss what the oceans can teach us about the benefits of diversity.

Aug 6, 2020

When KC Cheng decided to hike the Camino de Santiago, she imagined it as a kind of therapy. She wanted to feel young and adventurous again, in charge of her own life.

Like so many other thru-hikers, she saw a long-distance trek as an opportunity for an emotional reset.

But what does a solo adventure really do to a person? Does “getting away from it all” change us in a fundamental way?

On this episode, KC shares the story of a surprising realization she made as a result of her pilgrimage.

Jul 23, 2020

If you attended a predominantly white college or university, there was probably an outdoors program on campus. And it was likely composed of mostly white people.

If you went to a historically Black college or university, chances are, there was no outdoor program. And you probably grew up hearing that the outdoors was for white people.

On this episode, we talk with outdoor adventurer and educator Ron Griswell about his efforts to close the adventure gap. We share the story of how Ron became a leader in the outdoor industry; we discuss the barriers that keep many people of color from engaging in outdoor adventures; and we talk about the ways that Black joy can help combat racist narratives.

What does "Black Joy" mean to you? Send us a voice message here, and we might air it on the show!

Jul 9, 2020

Everyone suffers. Sometimes it’s obvious; other times it’s less visible. But it’s inevitable that we’ll suffer at some point in our lives. And typically, we hate it.

But what if hardships serve a purpose? What if the struggles we try so hard to avoid could actually enhance our lives?

On this episode, Megan McLaughlin takes us from Big Bend National Park to the forests of Arkansas, and explains how she has found sweetness, both in miserable outdoor experiences, and in a cancer diagnosis.

 

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Jun 25, 2020

Growing up in an emotionally abusive household, Meg Atteberry yearned for her parents’ approval. But no matter how hard she tried, the message was always the same: you are not enough. The emotional scars from her upbringing lingered long into adulthood.

Then one day, Meg took a dangerous fall while rock climbing.

The brush with death resulted in fresh trauma. But in the aftermath of the accident, something surprising started to happen.

On this episode, Meg shares the story of how a freak accident changed her relationship with climbing, and with her parents.

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Jun 18, 2020

Dierdre Wolownick is the oldest woman to have climbed El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. She’s also a teacher, a musician, a marathon runner — and the mother of renowned rock climber Alex Honnold.

On this episode, we talk with Dierdre about what it was like raising a kid like Alex.

We discuss her efforts to keep Alex safe as a child, without stifling his love for climbing. We talk about the difference between risk and consequence. And we explore Dierdre’s own journey to becoming a climber, and how learning about her son’s passion changed their relationship.

Jun 11, 2020

Black Lives Matter.

The events that have been unfolding over the past few weeks have made it very clear that all of us need to be doing much more to actively fight racism. One of the ways that Out There can help is to use our platform to amplify the voices of Black, Indigenous and People of Color.

The outdoors should be a place where anyone can go, without fearing violence, harassment, or discrimination.

On this episode, we talk about what we, as a podcast, commit to doing, to become part of the solution rather than adding to the problem.

Jun 4, 2020

The events that have been unfolding across the United States over the past weeks have driven home once again that simply existing carries risks if you have dark skin.

Many of us like to think that nature is an equalizer — a place to escape the injustices of society. But it’s not so simple.

On this bonus episode, producer Jackie Sojico bring you a story that first aired several years ago. It’s about ornithologist and birder Drew Lanham and his quest to pursue his passion outdoors as a POC.

May 28, 2020

Amber McDaniel lives on the road full-time. She and her partner are both freelance writers, so working remotely isn’t a problem for them. And they love the freedom to spend their days in America’s most beautiful natural places.

But what happens to van lifers when a pandemic hits? Where do you go, when campgrounds and public lands start to close?

On this episode, Amber joins us to talk about “staying home” when you don’t have a home.

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May 21, 2020

On this bonus episode, we bring you tales from Out There’s live storytelling night earlier this month.

Each story touches on the theme of being a beginner in the outdoors:

  • Ashley White shares the story of his son’s injury on their first-ever backpacking trip together

  • Jessica Taylor explores the lessons she’s learning as she transitions from life in a house to a life on the road

  • Natasha Buffo reflects on the intertwined experiences of falling in love with backpacking, and losing a parent

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May 14, 2020

Melanie Chambers loved traveling alone. So when she set off on a four-month solo bicycle trip through Japan and Korea, she wasn’t worried.

But almost immediately, loneliness set in.

On this episode, Melanie shares her story. It’s a story of trying to prove yourself, of discovering the limits of your independence, and of making sense of a worldview that prizes self sufficiency.

 

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