Climbing a mountain can be a lot like coming out.
That’s a metaphor filmmaker Devin Fei-Fan Tau explores in his new documentary Who’s On Top. The film follows four LGBTQ climbers who set out to summit Mt. Hood. It explores their connection to nature and their efforts to challenge stereotypes about gender and sexuality — and it offers an inside view into the literal and metaphorical mountains they face.
Devin joins us on this episode to talk about it.
As more people get vaccinated and the world starts opening up again, many of us are reflecting on the unprecedented isolation we’ve experienced over the past year. Extreme isolation was new for many of us, and we’re looking forward to getting back to normal.
But not everyone can escape their aloneness.
This is the story of a runner named Luanne Burke, who has been dealing with deep isolation for decades and will continue to experience it, even after much of the world returns to a “new normal.”
In the wake of natural disasters, those affected are faced with a tough decision: do you leave and go somewhere safer, or stay put and try to rebuild your life?
How do you navigate that choice? And for those who decide to stay: what seals the deal? Why do we remain in disaster-prone areas, after losing so much?
This episode takes us to an island in North Carolina and tells the story of one man who finds himself firmly rooted to place, despite growing environmental threats.
FOR FURTHER LISTENING: Check out our playlist "After the Storm," which explores why we live where we live, as the climate warms.
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. 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. It’s a story that first ran several years ago, but which feels surprisingly relevant again now.
On this bonus episode, we introduce you to a new podcast we think you'll love. It's called the Atlas Obscura Podcast, and it takes you on an audio journey to discover new, strange, and wondrous places from all over the world.
This particular episode is about Pyramiden, an abandoned Soviet mining town, frozen both in time and in ice.
Thanks to its Arctic climate, scientists predict that it will resist decay longer than any other human settlement in modern history.
Explorer Christopher Venter lost his eyesight very suddenly, at age 40.
He was an avid traveler, and at first, he couldn’t imagine going on with life, if he couldn’t see. But eventually, he regained the will to live and the courage to explore the world.
On this episode, he takes us on a journey from Sicily to Southern France and shows us the world as he experiences it — with his other four senses.
The story comes to us from the Armchair Explorer Podcast, a show on which the world’s greatest adventurers tell their best stories from the road. At the end of the episode, we talk with Armchair Explorer host Aaron Millar about his show, and his desire to cure our “wonder deficit,” one story at a time.
For Further Reading: You can find Christopher Venter's books here.
On this bonus episode, we take you behind the scenes at Out There and tell you about a challenge that we’re facing as a podcast.
It’s a challenge endemic to the professional world, and we need your help in rising to it. (Don't worry: we'll make it easy to get involved).
If there’s anything universal that most long-distance hikers dislike, it’s road walking. Asphalt is hot, tough on joints and tiring.
But the edges of roads can offer as many lessons as any alpine ridgeline.
On this episode, Kitty Galloway tells the story of something that happened on a highway in Idaho, which shifted her worldview.
It’s a story about confronting the narrative that women are vulnerable — victims in the making. And it’s about strength, fear, and learning to accept that two opposing truths can be valid at the same time.
For Further Listening: If you enjoy this story, check out the episode "Acceptance."
Growing up, Heather Kitching was enamored with rural life. She dreamed of living in the countryside, riding horses, wearing cowboy boots, and listening to country music.
But when she got a little older, she learned something about herself that threw a wrench into that dream. She realized that if she was going to be her true self, she’d need to leave behind the place she loved.
On this episode, she shares her story. It's a story that first ran a few years ago, but it's just as good now as it was then.
For Further Listening: If you enjoy this story, check out the episode "Out of the Shadows."
Better outside: What has gotten better since being moved outdoors due to the pandemic? Leave us a voice message, and we might use it on the show!
Have you found yourself at odds with family members or close friends over diverging values? The past year has dredged up tensions over many issues — from racial justice, to proper pandemic behavior, to a highly politicized presidential election.
How do we nurture our relationships with loved ones, when the values that are central to our being are challenged?
On this episode, Stephanie Maltarich tells the story of a trip she took with her father in rural Ohio. The week they spent together outdoors highlighted the deep divides that existed in their politics and values, but their conversations around the campfire also laid some groundwork for reconciling with those divides.
If you enjoy this story...check out an episode called "The Truths We Hold."
Pandemic silver linings: what has gotten better since being moved outside? Leave us a voice message, and we might play it on the show!
When Tara Karineh and her husband embarked on a thru-hike with their three-year-old daughter, Acacia, they weren’t sure she’d be able to finish the trail.
Acacia regularly went hiking with her parents, but a multi-day backpacking trip took things to a different level.
On this episode, Tara tells the story of their attempt of the Trans-Catalina Trail, exploring what it takes for a small child to accomplish something big.
If you enjoy this story, check out the episode "Fractured Self," which explores coming to terms with your new identity after becoming a parent.
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When Kelsie Wilkins moved to New York City, she quickly became overwhelmed. She was surrounded by more people than she had ever been around in her life, yet she felt an acute sense of isolation. She had never felt so alone in a crowd.
But eventually she did something that helped her belong. It began with a walk, and ended with a sense of connection.
On this episode, Kelsie shares her story.
If you enjoy this story, check out the episode "Before It's Too Late."
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.
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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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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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.
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!
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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.