This is what adventure sounds like. Climb. Ski. Hike. Bike. Paddle. Run. Travel. Whatever your passion, we are all dirtbags. Outdoor writer Fitz Cahall and the Duct Tape Then Beer team present stories about the dreamers, athletes and wanderers.
Sarah Lann and her twin sister, Becca, had their lives planned out together. They’d raise their kids hiking, berry-picking, and stargazing together. But after their plans went astray, they scheduled a backpacking trip together on the John Muir Trail to stay connected despite the different path their lives had taken.
When John Temple and Dean Goodman’s dream job fell into their laps in the summer of 1971, they quickly said yes. From June through August, they lived alone- without supervision or communication- in a lineman's cabin along Coastal BC surveying an area of old-growth rainforest for the Sierra Club. As they documented landmarks, wildlife, potential campsites, and treacherous portages, they also found their place and purpose in the world that would carry forth into the rest of their adult lives.
After a decades long battle on Washington State’s Elwha river, a coalition of environmentalists, scientists and locals succeeded in having two dams demolished. Six years later, scientists are monitoring the river and larger ecosystem as they recover from a century of abuse. And one of the best ways to do the research? Snorkeling class iii white water.
When life pedals ahead on the trail, how do you catch up? You can downshift and sweat harder, or accept that maybe you’ll always feel a little behind. Anya Miller has learned to embrace the struggle on the ups and savor the flow of the downs.
When Ladia Albertson-Junkans’ best friend and running teammate, Gabe Grunewald, was diagnosed with cancer, they resolved that it wouldn’t slow them down. But after Gabe’s death, grief finally caught up to Ladia. She was unmotivated and struggled to get out of the door some days. With the hope of honoring Gabe’s life, Ladia reluctantly said “yes” to a special and spontaneous FKT (Fastest Known Time) attempt around Mount Hood’s Timberline Trail. In running and in life, time matters - but maybe not always in the ways we imagine.
Get ready for big waves and two epic ocean rescues. Before becoming a photographer, Jeff Johnson was a young lifeguard, determined to prove himself. And Kohl Christensen, a North Shore veteran whose work to save other surfers’ lives...ended up saving him.
This episode first appeared on Outside Podcast.
In her early 20’s, Rachel James would run 10,000 vertical feet every week and ski deep into the Alaskan backcountry in her free time. When her life took an unexpected turn, she drew on her experience in the outdoors to help her navigate the most difficult chapter of her life. When the world feels like it’s closing in on you, where do you find your strength? Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.
When Scott Guinn received a letter in the mail from his friend Mike Flanigan, he didn’t expect to find a page-long, typed challenge to climb 10 tricky boulder problems within an hour at the nearby bouldering area. Gauntlet thrown, Scott stepped up to the task, launching what’s become an epic series of challenges that keeps building their friendship through adventure.
When Ryan Smith set out to hike all sixty-seven 4,000 foot mountains in New England, he expected to be finished in a handful of years. But life threw him a curve ball. A shooting pain in his groin led him on a different kind of journey with his body, his partner, and his understanding of what is important.
In an unprecedented time, a lot of us are confined to our homes, yet looking for ways to connect, to create and to be of service. As our community tries to adapt to a quickly shifting reality, it seems like a good time to slow down and have a conversation. Here’s to doing our part, looking for the positive, and finding ways to support each other. We’re in this together.
Leadville, Colorado is a mecca for endurance racing in the United States and home to some of the country's hardest trails and toughest athletes. In the summer of 2019, ultra runners Marvin Sandoval and Buttercup became unlikely partners and show us what happens when you combine a love of sport, hard work, a 10 foot lead rope, and a dash of crazy. One thing Marvin learned, "hang on and see what happens."
“In the Frank Church—River of No Return Wilderness, getting “Franked” means waking up mid-summer to a foot of snow on your tent, or losing your sleeping bag to a rapid on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River,” writes Allison Fowle. And, when you’re in the middle of the largest wilderness area in the lower 48, navigating the joys and perils of romance can be just as challenging.
When a dirtbag romance starts with a burrito shop and a fire alarm, adventure is bound to follow. Climbers Allen Schaidle and Sara Al-Awadhi who, despite differences in cultures and faiths, fall in love by exploring and climbing together in the UAE. Happy Valentines Day, everyone.
Some of the most powerful learning can happen outside the classroom. In the summer of 1975, public school teacher Mr. Hodges took 22 of his students on an unforgettable bike trip that would impact the rest of their lives. Grab your cut-off shorts, a 10-speed bike, and a sense of humor, and you’ll be along for the ride.
When the DC metro shut down the line that Dylan Lewis used daily, he had to refigure his commute. Borrow a car? Uber? Walk 11 miles? What started as an obstacle became an opportunity, with a little ‘out of the blue’ inspiration. Every January, we bring you big goals from our community for the New Year. Whether it’s your goal, a friend’s, or a stranger’s, you might just try something new. Dream big. Happy New Year, everybody.
Great gear shops are like a toy stores filled with skis and bikes, ropes and chalk. Walking through the door can sow the seeds for the next adventure. Friendships begin. Knowledge gets dropped. When a beloved gear shop unexpectedly closed in Seattle, it shocked the local community and left them wondering whether it could be rekindled. In a day of online, convenience shopping, is there still room for the local gear shop?
How many feet of snow would you shovel each year to own a rad backcountry ski lodge? Well if you’re the Schaffer family, the answer is 60. Today, we bring you the story of an incredible family business high in the mountains of British Columbia where a love of skiing, hard work and entrepreneurship has been passed between generations.
“It’s like you’re scared to move forward– you just need something to give you a little nudge,” says Jonah Manning. “You can call it support, but really it’s just like a little bit of a shove forward. And I’ll never forget it, because Widge was certainly that for me.” Today, we bring you the story of Widge, the ultimate adventure partner. Sometimes when that metaphorical door of adventure opens, you need someone to walk through by your side.
This episode originally aired on June 26, 2014.
Disembodied footsteps, screams in the dark, hooded figures: our tenth annual Tales of Terror might have you questioning who -- or what -- else shares the trail with you at night. Ryan Cronin, Natalie Rooker, and Bryce Williams bring us their stories today -- get ready, you might need a friendly hand to hold.
“When I think about it, I'm not happy because I got to the top of some point on the planet,” says Steve Swenson. “I'm happy because of all the things we had to do to get there.” In the summer of 2019, Steve and his climbing partners, Graham Zimmerman, Chris Wright, and Mark Richey, made a first ascent of Link Sar, a 7,041 meter peak in the Karakorum. Steve has been climbing for 50 years and has broken a different kind of trail that younger climbers like Graham can follow.
"The land doesn't belong to me, it doesn’t belong to any of us,” says Joshua Tree resident Rand Abbott. “We’re guests here on this earth. It's my responsibility to make sure that my daughter's children's children get to see what Joshua Tree is really like not just from a video or from a book.” Joshua Tree National Park feels like an extension of Rand’s backyard-- - a place where he can climb, watch wildlife or find solace through big changes in his life. When a partial shutdown of the US government in December 2018 left J-Tree open but unmonitored, Rand became a voice of reason to take care of a place he cherishes.
"A lot of folks like a loop trail or a point-to-point run, but I find something really magical about a good out-and-back. On the way out, I feel one way. Then I turn around and run the same steps back, but I feel different,” writes Anya Miller. When Anya learned that her stepdad had passed away, she immediately headed to her favorite Colorado trail in the Indian Peaks Wilderness to start moving through the overwhelming grief that she felt.
Say the word bike, and words like, fun, freedom, fast, come to mind. But does a tandem bike double the fun or divide the freedom? One thing seems certain, whether you’re headed to collaboration or catastrophe, you’ll get there quicker on a tandem. From adventures with loved ones to cycling with strangers, we bring you five stories of the mythical unicorns of the bicycle community and fates linked by a bike frame and chain. Tandemonium!
Leah Breen had always been taught to embrace failure. You can't win every mountain bike race, or make it to the top of every pitch. Learn from it, and keep going. But when she felt her partner's climbing rope careen through her hands over a cliff, she realized in an instant that the consequences of her failure could be much larger than individual defeat. Are there some failures you can’t embrace?
When Steve Casimiro moved across the country to write for Powder magazine in the 1980’s, he wasn’t sure his work was going to matter. But after 30 years living and breathing outdoor publication, and starting his own magazine, Steve reflects on the importance of storytelling in our culture.
Boulder, Utah. Population 250. Sitting in the heart of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, this small town of ranchers and settled-down dirtbags prides itself on staying out of the spotlight. It’s the right amount of quiet here. The ranchers ranch. A few small businesses cater to hikers and wanderers. Visitors come and go. Boulder was thrust into the spotlight in 1996 when President Clinton declared the monument. And in 2017, Boulder again found itself at the center of the debate when President Trump issued an order to cut the size of the monument by nearly half.
For this installment of Endangered Spaces, we traveled to Boulder to capture a snapshot of a community thrust into a fight they did not choose. A fight they may have little influence over. And a fight about how to protect public lands and who decides. The outcome of that fight will have lasting implications not just for Boulder, but to all communities who rely on public lands.
For a population of 250, Boulder had a lot to say.
“We biked through wind, rain, and snow. If lightning struck, we kept going. We only stopped if it got too close. We outran tornadoes in Oklahoma. We waited out a storm in an old horse barn in Montana, huddled like penguins, our bikes cast carelessly aside in the mud,” writes John Flynn. After John lost his mom to cancer, he biked with a group of friends from Texas to Alaska to try to find her again-- in the mountains, the rivers, and the solitude of the open road.
“I’ve spent my entire life going on adventures, but I wasn’t ever really the creator of these adventures,” says Kathy Holcombe. “My role is as the dream maker. And, I have a lot of pride in that role.”
Exist in a relationship long enough and we fall into roles. Life is busy. It doesn’t make sense to double up on work. Cultural gender dynamics come into play. One partner excels at certain things.
But what happens when we step out of our role? In the fall of 2017, Kathy Holcombe stepped out of her role in the family, and embarked on a year of adventures that challenged her in ways she never expected, and profoundly changed her view of herself.
Last spring, Andy and Katherine Wyatt set up basecamp on the Powell Glacier in Alaska’s Chugach Mountains.After years of individual rad mountain accomplishments in climbing and skiing, they realized they’d never taken a large trip together. The trip started perfectly and then it all went wrong. At full volume, the power of the natural world is terrifying and the limitations of our physical forms so evident. Survival stories are powerful. To the listener, they pose a question. What would you do? Would you make it? What would run through your mind? It’s all theoretical — until it’s not.
Carmen Kuntz has lived a dirtbag life for over a decade. She’s moved every year since graduating high school, and has explored some of the world’s most remote places in her kayak and hiking boots. But with all the moving around, Carmen began to wonder if she was missing out on something. Specifically, a home — and the connections to the community and landscape that come with it. Does home have to be a place, or can it be a feeling?
After more than 50 years of bipartisan support, Congress failed to re-authorize the Land Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in the fall of 2018. LWCF grants have protected over 2.3M acres of natural areas and cultural heritage sites and provided recreational opportunities to all Americans across the 50 states. With more than $22 billion on the table, the team at Outdoor Alliance, comprised of avid kayakers, climbers and all-around (reformed) dirtbags, are faced with the daunting task of convincing Congress to reauthorize the funding amidst a contentious political climate.
In this week’s double-feature episode, Amie Begg and Jessica Kelley head out solo into the Himalayan and Alaskan wildernesses--on their bikes. Through the challenges they face--from negative 20 degree temperatures to near-collisions with moose--both women find new perspective on what it means to adventure alone.
Mitch Breton grew up as as devout member of the Catholic Church. He ascended the religious ranks through his childhood, and assumed that one day he would become a priest. Then, he found whitewater paddling. A summer of raft guiding rerouted Mitch’s spiritual journey -- from one that had existed within four walls and an altar, to one that flowed with the current of the Kennebec River.
Jeanie Adamson, a 50-something Mom, decided to switch things up last year for spring break. When she told her son, Luke, she wanted to ski at every resort between Dallas and Lake Tahoe, he offered up Sherrod, his newly-renovated 1990 Dodge Ram van for the job. The two of them threw in their skis, buckled up, and embarked on what would become a memorable mother-son trip.
There is no clear way to cope with death and grief. Moving forward is often heartbreaking, baffling, and uncertain. So, how do we best honor those we’ve lost? When he was 12-years-old, Navy Seal and backcountry snowboarder Josh Jespersen tragically lost his father. Confused and angry, Josh drifted in school and got into legal trouble. He joined the Navy Seals, where death was a constant. Josh would drink to celebrate the life of his fallen friends, but this led to more legal trouble, more confusion, more anger. Ultimately, Josh realized that the best way to honor the dead was to embark on an outdoor adventure that would amplify their memory. He realized he had to live for those he had lost.
After a childhood of moving from one suburban neighborhood to the next, Jonathon Stalls felt starved for connection--to anything or anyone. In a quest to find community, he set out with nothing but his own two feet to carry him from Delaware to California. The awkward, exhilarating, and at times terrifying challenges he faced over the next 8 months helped him tear down the walls around his long-standing isolation.
After falling in love with John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Charlie Turnbull and Leon Morton set out to recreate the 1,615-mile journey described in the novel – but on bikes. In July. With camera gear and a few buddies in tow, they followed historic Route 66 from Oklahoma to Southern California. And along the way, they found a place that really brought Steinbeck’s book home.
“For better or for worse, ideas are infectious. They become our goals, and the struggle to realize them becomes memory, the story of our lives,” says Fitz Cahall.
When Brian O’Dell decided it was time to stop driving his Honda Civic, he didn’t list in on Craigslist. Instead, he posted in to outdoor forums in the PNW. The cost? Free, but there was one catch. This year, we hear how Brian’s idea for engaging with his community changed another person’s life, and what goals contributors, staff, and community at the Dirtbag Diaries have for 2019. Our ideas are what make us keep growing as individuals--and as a community. Happy New Year!
Chris Kalman, Austin Siadak and Miranda Oakley got to go on what should have been a climber’s dream trip--fully funded first ascents of granite big walls in the Coast Range of British Columbia, helicopter transport in and out, and good team dynamics. But, by the end, Chris realized that this dream trip left him feeling a little hollow and he needed to redefine how he pursues meaningful adventures.
"To work in tourism is to witness the human comedy," says Joe Aultman-Moore. "Every guide has stories that start with, "You'll never believe this...'. Nowhere, it seems, do people go further from the familiar that on cruises to Alaska." Working as a seasonal guide at a remote camp in rural Alaska with ten other men, Joe Aultman-Moore figured it would take nothing less than a request to Santa and his team of flying reindeer to meet a girl. Can Christmas wishes still come true?
Drew Hamilton makes a living by taking people out into the remote Alaskan wilderness to hang out with brown bears. These days, he does it, in large part, as a unique way to protect this magnificent landscape from the proposed Pebble Mine. For the fifth installment of our Endangered Spaces series, we travel to the mainland of southern Alaska to meet Drew and the bears and to better understand the threats to this landscape.
Our ninth annual Tales of Terror brings you three stories that will send shivers down your spine. From ghost-like figures walking silently through the snow, to shadows lurking in a backcountry hut and canyon, these stories will keep you peering over your shoulder.
For the past five years, Janelle Kaz has traveled on her motorcycle fighting against the worldwide problem of wildlife trafficking. Travel along, as she follows jungle roads in Colombia into the incredible indigenous culture of the Kogi.
“I have really good reason to believe that if I hadn’t have been walking down the strip and found that 72-foot tower to climb, that I would be dead or in prison. I have no doubts about that,” says Juan Rodriguez. Juan is an American citizen, an immigrant and a climber. Today, we follow Juan’s journey from Mexico to climbing shop owner, through illegal border crossings and to the first rock wall he ever climbed on the Las Vegas strip--a chance encounter that altered the trajectory of his life.
“I was certain I was paralyzed. My legs were totally limp, I was hanging upside down and the only thing stopping me from falling 160-feet headfirst into the talus below, was this rope that was wrapped around my foot,” remembers Craig Gorder. In November, 2016, Craig took a fall climbing that injured him badly, and dramatically altered the course of his life. We follow Craig through the first year of his recovery--the day to day questions and decisions, setbacks and victories, mini-crises and mini-epiphanies that really make up the recovery process.
“I have a pretty young grandfather, but he was starting to get old and knew he had one or two more big expeditions in him,” says Ethan Roebuck. “He wanted to put together a big trip, because he’s getting older, but also because I’m getting older. When Ethan’s grandfather proposed that they go on a tandem kayaking expedition along the Canadian coast the summer before Ethan’s senior year of high school, Ethan was onboard. Producer Cordelia Zars brings you the story of a wild adventure, a passing of the torch, and the special bond that emerges and evades the constraints of words.
“Any time I ski a steep line, I’ve done it hundreds of times, and still every time for me there is that moment of fear on top, where I am like, ‘Do I really want to do this?’,” says Jason Hummel. “But, also, anytime you do anything scary, it really ties you down to the moment, the instant, to that second, and all that matters is the next turn.” Just as Jason had started to feel like he knew what his home mountains had to offer, he stumbled into this idea that made him reconsider how much he still had to explore. Today, we bring you Jason’s journey to ski all of the glaciers in Washington--a story about how sometimes, by placing a constraint on adventure, we can deepen our relationships with the places we consider most familiar.
For most of his adult life, Cam Fenton has fought against climate change--and particularly to protect the Arctic. “The funny thing was, for most of that time, I couldn’t tell you why,” says Cam. He traveled to the Arctic hoping for revelations about climate change and renewed purpose to fight the good fight. He did walk away with a revelation--just a very different one than he expected.
Expedition kayakers Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic have what is perhaps the longest running, most successful partnerships in outdoor adventure, but, in April 2017, on an expedition to the Colombian Amazon, the team dynamics grew so strained that being held hostage by an armed rebel group didn’t seem like the worst thing that could have happened. In Part II, we’ll get into the history of this epic partnership, what went so wrong, and what happens moving forward.
After a breakup and a drinking habit sent John Gray in a downward spiral, he decided that he needed something radical to shake him out of his "life avoidance stupor." So, he signed up for a semester-long Outward Bound course that would take hime from the Appalachians to the Everglades to Costa Rica-- and change his outlook in a lasting way.
Expedition kayakers Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic have what is perhaps the longest running, most successful partnerships in outdoor adventure, but, in April 2017, on an expedition to the Colombian Amazon, the team dynamics grew so strained that being held hostage by an armed rebel group didn’t seem like the worst thing that could have happened. In Part I, we’ll follow Ben and Chris down Colombia’s remote Apaporis River.
Today, we bring you the first episode of Duct Tape Then Beer's new show, "Safety Third." Big wall climber and former wingsuit flyer Chris McNamara believes risky outdoor pursuits are essential. But, what happens when something vital has the potential to kill you? You find different ways to take risks.
“In the early stages of my pregnancy, I was intrigued and ready for the changes that would take place,” says Chelsey Magness. “As an athlete, I expected body image and performance challenges. I expected exhaustion. I expected attachment issues to my newborn twins. I never expected what was actually to come.”
Chelsey and her husband Jason have built unique lives as professional adventure racers and partner acrobatics and slacklining instructors--among other things. When unimaginable tragedy struck their family, they came up with a unique way to move through their grief.
There are a lot of serious problems in this world, but the solutions don’t always have to be serious. Fly-fisherman and runner Andrew Todd channeled his concern for Colorado’s native trout and the watersheds that support them into the creation of a joyful, irreverent, event: The Flyathlon.
Chronic depression and the deaths of a few friends launched Tyler Dunning on a mission to visit all of the National Parks. He constructed an identity around the project, started writing a book and making a short film about his journey. But part way through his project, he lost interest, and was again left with the question, ‘Now what’?
“I was working this corporate job, and, every day, I looked out the window and thought, ‘Man, those mountains are so beautiful, I wish I was out there’,” remembers Perry Cohen.
Growing up, Perry was an outdoorsy kid--hiking and cross-country skiing in rural New Hampshire. He was thrilled when, as a teenager, he got to sign up for an Outward Bound course. But the experience left him disappointed. For the first time, he didn’t click with the group.
Perry reconnected strongly with the outdoors in his late thirties, as he transitioned from female to male. Being outside helped Perry have an appreciation for a body that he had felt alienated from. Looking out that window, he realized that he wanted to help other transgender folks get outside.
“I thought there must be some queer outdoor organization leading trips that I could go work for, but I didn’t find one. So, I got despondent for about twenty-four hours, and then I thought to myself, ‘I’ve led a corporate HR department, I understand how to run a business, maybe I should just start one’. And so I did.”
Carmen Kuntz had just started to break into the world of competitive, freestyle whitewater kayaking when she sustained a mild traumatic brain injury. For the past four years, she has had to confront a new kind of challenge: learning to balance the risk of re-injuring her head and the risk of losing who she is.
“For me, it was a way to stay connected—literally: tied to my free-range daughter by a length of 10-millimeter climbing rope, and connected to my own dream of being an adventurer,” says David Altschul. “And that was how I found myself on a ledge, high above the Columbia River, in the dark.”
For the past decade, David has told the story of the infamous “Escape From Beacon Rock”–a failed attempt to climb a basalt monolith with his daughter, our producer, Jen. At age 72, it dawned on him that, rather than continue to tell the story of the failed climb, he could connect with his daughter by actually climbing Beacon Rock, and doing it this time as a ‘real’ climber.
“Here I was, a professional wilderness instructor with no food or water, a sopping wet tent and wetter sleeping bag, no way to banish the chills or signal that I needed help,” says Emma Walker. “For the first time in my career, I began to think I might need a rescue.”
Emma’s husband Bix has also worked for years as an outdoor guide and educator. So, when the two of them set out on an overnight backpacking trip to a beach on Hawaii’s big island, they were unconcerned--maybe a little too unconcerned.
Emma Walker and her husband, Bix, have both worked for years as wilderness instructors, so when the two of them set out on an overnight backpacking trip to a beach on Hawaii's big island, they were unconcerned. Maybe a little too unconcerned.
"The notion that there's one dream that we're all after and agreed upon ways in which you can verify that you are indeed living that dream drives me crazy," says Forest McBrian. "Everyone's dream is a little bit different. In May of 2017, Forest and Trevor Kostanich spent a month traversing the North Cascades from Snoqualmie Pass to the Canadian Border (well, almost) in a style that broke all the rules of an epic mountaineering expedition--in the best way possible.
"It's like being caught in a spiderweb. You'll find yourself pushing with every part of your body, and no part of your body will be able to move. You're totally trapped by--held by plants," says Elsa Sebastian. She bushwhacked through the overgrown clearcuts of Southeast Alaska in a creative effort to defend the remaining old growth on her home island, Prince of Wales, from a proposed bill that would transfer up to 2-million acres of the Tongass National Forest to the State of Alaska. For the fourth installment of our Endangered Spaces series, we follow Elsa and her companions as they trek across the island to see for themselves what's been lost and what remains to be saved.
"I think the jack of all trades gets a bum rap. The jack is the master of none, but I think the jack probably has a lot of fun," says Fitz Cahall. We open our annual Year of Big Ideas with an ode to “mediocrity” from Fitz, then turn, as always, to our community for inspiration for the coming year.
Cordelia Zars shares stories of her family's unconventional adventures--like dragged a 90-lb keyboard 10-miles through the snow on a 9-degree Colorado evening--and she reflects on how those excursions shaped her and her siblings.
"It's like the Iditarod with a chance of drowning," says Jake Beatty, one of the organizers of the Race to Alaska. What's crazier than trying to race from WA to AK on a boat without a motor? Karl Kruger's decision to enter the race on a SUP.
For our eighth annual Tales of Terror episode, we have five stories that span the range of things to fear--from angry men with shotguns, to bears and mountain lions, to things that really don't have any explanation in the world of science.
When Tyler Neese and four friends loaded up the truck for a spring break ski vacation in Colorado, the stoke was high. Until, just minutes from the slopes black ice and a distracted driver flipped their trip upside down. Sometimes, it's not about what happens to you, it's about how you react.
For our third Endangered Spaces episode, we travel to Northern Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to follow Dave and Amy Freeman on "Paddle to D.C." and "A Year in the Wilderness," two adventures that had a real impact in advocating for the protection of the place they love most.
"If you're thirsty, you're probably already dehydrated. That's what they say. Those perfect people who always have a clean, happily-colored, reusable adult sippy bottle on hand," says Anya Miller. "Most often, I only realize that I'm thirty when someone offers me a drink. My friend Jesse Bushey brought up climbing El Cap. I didn't even know I wanted to--until he suggested it."
"When we were living in a house, we were always compromising what we thought we should be doing," remembers Kathy Holcombe. Until, the day she, her husband, Peter, and their daughter Abby moved into a Winnebago to travel and work from the road. "I want her to see that... whatever her wildest dreams are, to chase them and not stop until they come true," says Kathy. 12 year old Abby's dream? To kayak the 280-miles of the classic Grand Canyon run.
"I looked like some mountain man's girlfriend, and sometimes, that's all I felt like," remembers Andrea Ross. But after an accident on Mt. Humphreys forced Andrea to draw on her EMT training, she reached a turning point in her relationship and the way she imagined her life.
"The reason that I was able to do it is because I was incredibly naive," says Lucas St. Clair. "I had no idea how much work it was going to be, when I started. Not a clue."
The thing Lucas did: work to establish Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in the North Woods of Maine.
We started this "Endangered Spaces" series for two reasons. First, we want to take a deeper look at a handful of important, active land battles. Second, and every bit as important, we want to follow the stories of a handful of people who, in their own, quirky ways, have stepped up to protect the threatened spaces they hold dear.
For Lucas, the endangered space wasn't the land he was working to protect, but the communities that surround it.
The comment period for the 27 monuments on Zinke's list ends July 10th. Outdoor Alliance makes it easy to speak out for the places that are important to you.
To plan your trip to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, visit Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters.
"Three days from the end of the trip, I started to panic," writes Emma Walker. "I still didn't know what to do with my summer, let alone the rest of my life. Inspiration, as I'd imagined it, hadn't struck. Now, I had to face the realization that I didn't have an exit strategy. This had been it, and it would inevitably end."
The summer after her first year of graduate school, Emma enrolled in an Alaska Pacific University Expedition Mountaineering course. She told her family she signed up because it meant she'd earn graduate credits to traipse around the Harding Icefield. But she also hoped the trip would bring some clarity on the bigger questions, like whether or not grad school had been a mistake and what she was still doing in Alaska.
No lightning bolts of clarity struck during her trip, but looking back a year later, she could see that, perhaps, her month in the Alaska mountains had given her the inspiration she needed after all.
You can find more of Emma's writing at myalaskanodyssey.com or listen to her first Short, "I Poo: A Love Story"
"As a brown woman, I stand out," says Mary Ann Thomas. "People came up to me just because they were curious, just because they were like, 'There aren't a lot of strangers here, we're just interested in who you are as a person-- as a whole person.'"
Mary Ann is the daughter of Indian immigrants, she's queer and she had always lived in the liberal bubble of big cities on the East Coast. When she embarked on a six-month, 6600-mile bike tour across the country, she worried most about the prejudice she might encounter as she pedaled through middle America. She was surprised to discover that the stereotypes she had to confront in a profound way were her own.
Check out the blog from Mary Ann's trip, or find more of her writing here.
When a bad breakup sent him spiraling into a deep depression, Tom Ireson fixated on an unconventional way to get his head straight:
"I really needed something to focus my mind on to pull me out of that," Tom says, "and about the biggest thing I could think of was to try and do a new route on a big wall."
Not just any big wall, a big wall on the other side of the world in the remote and wild valley of Cochamo, Chile. When he latched on to the idea, Tom had never been to Cochamo and never climbed a big wall, much less established a new route on one.
Today, we've got one for you about how, if you find yourself at the bottom of an impossibly deep hole, sometimes it takes an equally impossible goal to pull yourself out of it.
If you want to hear more from Tom, check out his 2014 Short, 'Go For It'.
"I used to go climbing in the same way people would go to a well, a source of life equally routine and sacred. It would fill me up--leave me refreshed and full after a hard day in the mountains," writes Keith Erps. "After Ryan's death, climbing appeared dark and ugly. I wanted to love it, but had to find a new answer to the 'why' questions."
For many of us, the relationship we have with the outdoors stretches back longer than most of our friendships. But what do we do when what should have been a type one fun day in the mountains turns into the worst day of our lives? How do we redefine our relationships with the activities we love?
Ryan's family started a scholarship in his name to help underserved youth get outside. You can donate here.
You can find more of Keith's writing here.
Matt Muchna and Peter Journel are best friends, and complete opposites. Matt is spontaneous. Peter is a planner. Matt is an idealist, Peter in a realist. And a few years ago, they made a bet: Peter bet that Matt couldn't climb one of the highest continental peaks for less than $3,000. If he did, Peter would pay him back for the trip.
"When I made this bet, I had maybe two or three pairs of cut off pants that were now shorts--or jorts--a pair of sandals, and maybe six or seven pretty nice Hawaiian shirts," remembers Matt. "And that was it."
Today, producer Francesca Fenzi brings you a story of mountain climbing on a budget, friendship, and idealism versus realism.
You can find more of Francesca's work at: francescafenzi.com
"Every day on the mountain and every night at the bar, drinking and partying was as much a part of my life as skiing," remembers Paddy O'Connell. "That is until, of course, they became the only part."
We've heard the stories of addicts who found salvation in the outdoors and the outdoor community, but that's not the way the narrative arcs for everyone. For Paddy, recovery looked less like slashing pow turns with his ski-bum buddies, and more like a game of catch with his dad on the back lawn of a treatment facility in Minnesota.
Loosely speaking, there are two kinds of fear. There's the fear of external, objective hazards--like getting caught in an avalanche, or taking a bad fall climbing or getting mauled by a grizzly bear. Then, there's the internal, more slippery kind of fear, like the fear of not being pretty enough, or not being popular enough or not being perfect enough.
When Kat Cannell embarked on a 350-mile, solo horse-packing trip through the mountains of Idaho and Montana, across snowy mountain passes and through a large swath of grizzly bear country, she had to confront both kinds of fears. She realized that maybe conquering the fear of having a head on with a grizzly and conquering the fear of not being pretty enough really isn't all that different.
This April, Kat and activist Katelyn Spradley plan to ride 900-miles from the Washington Coast to Redfish Lake, Idaho, following the path of Idaho's wild salmon up the Columbia, Snake and Salmon Rivers to their spawning grounds in the Sawtooth Basin. Learn more at RideforRedd.org, or follow the trip on Facebook or Instagram.
If you travel down to Ushuaia, Argentina, you might just find a bus plastered with a massive photograph of Sam Evans-Brown. In that photo, he's sprinting, shoulder to shoulder, with Olympic cross-country ski-racer Martin Bianchi in the final stretch of the 2008 national ski championship of Argentina.
Today, Sam brings us the backstory to that photograph--a story about a split-second act of kindness that altered the course of Martin's life, and about figuring out when it's time to leave the races behind.
Sam hosts the podcast 'Outside In', a show from New Hampshire Public Radio about the natural world and how we use it.
A version of this story originally aired on 'Outside In'. You can find "Don't Cheer for Me Argentina" here.
"'Oh, shoot', my dad muttered for the tenth or fifteenth time in the last five minutes. Then, he burst into exhausted chuckles," remembers Deron Daugherty. "I looked up the chute that we were trying to march out of: thirty degrees of slop, several hundred feet to go. 'Shoot', I agreed, and laughed, the dark laugh of those initiated to the secrets of redlined exertion. Type 2 fun before I knew its name.
When Deron's uncle coerced him and his father on a trip to Vasey's Paradise, an oasis at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, they had no idea what they'd find down there. They didn't know about the chute. They also had no idea what truths they would uncover about one another, the bonds that would form between the three of them or how long those bonds would last.
No matter who they voted for, right now, a lot of people in this country would agree that things could be better. In the long term, if want thing to go well or if we want to move forward or to grow, then two, almost evenly divided, sides of the country can't remain at intellectual war.
So, this year, we bring you our annual Year of Big Ideas, but with a twist. With the current state of our country, asking people about their personal goals to get rad outside didn't quite feel right. Instead, we went out the simple/utterly confounding question: How do we move forward?
Today, our friends, contributors and listeners weigh in with their thoughts and goals on what we do in 2017 and in the years to come. Happy New Year!
"I have now officially sold out," writes Chris Kalman. "I work more than I climb. I pay rent and sleep in a house I'm getting rich off of writing--so rich, in fact, that I do my grocery shopping inside the store now."
Today, we bring you the story of Chris's life through the eras of three vans, "Ford," "Chevy" and "Van," to his current, nameless fancypants car. How do you reconcile a dirtbag soul with changing goals and dreams?
You can find more of Chris's writing at FringesFolly.com
Chad Kellogg. September 22nd, 1971 to February 14th, 2014. Seattle climbing community legend. Dear friend to many. And the toughest guy around.
"For Chad, not eating and shivering on ledges--that was like skiing powder for him. It was just that fun," remembers Jens Holsten.
Today, we take a look at what gets left behind when someone like Chad leaves us, and what grows in that vacant space.
In part one, we hear from Jens, Chad's climbing partner, good friend and mentee during the final years of his life.
In part two, we follow Ras Vaughan and Gavin Woody as they pick up the torch on a project Chad dreamed up, but never completed: the Rainier Infinity Loop. An idea so grand, it seemed almost inhuman.
With a professional ski guide for a dad and a skin instructor for a mom, Nina Hance learned early how to set a steep skin track and charge hard. At 20, she started to work toward her ski guide certification and got a job as an apprentice guide for a heli operation in Alaska. Imagine her delight when, her first week of college, she met Olivia, climber skier and aspiring avalanche forecaster: the ultimate female adventure companion.
"She taught me how to party hard, and I made her wake up early for powder days," says Nina. "Whether in deep conversation over a bottle of wine, swapping leads on a multi-pitch, or giggling in the skin track, we couldn't get enough of each other."
Then, one morning, Nina awoke to a phone full of missed calls from mutual friends, and the terrible realization that she would have to find a new way to love the mountains.
"As a mom, you have no book that tells you the right way to take care of your kids through bad times," says Bonnie Elozory, mother of four.
For seven-years, the Elozory family weathered a relentless streak of bad luck. With no instructions on how to pull her family out of the muck, Bonnie got creative. When her husband nudged Bonnie to rekindle her dream to hike the Appalachian Trail, she latched on to the idea. And decided to take the kids.
"Oh my gosh," Bonnie remembers thinking, "this is going to save our lives."
*This episode contains discussions about assault. If you're listening with young ears, or have sensitive ears, you may want to skip this one.
Click here to read Bonnie's blog from the trail.
"This is the part that I never anticipated: the boots have taken on a life of their own. They've just worked magic with people," says M'Lynn. "I'd like to see Paul's boots continue to be an inspiration, continue to get people off the couch and out into the fresh air and paying attention to what they're doing with their lives."
Paul's boots have now covered all 2,189-miles of the AT. All three pairs have summited Katahdin. Now, we've got quite the collection of size 13 hiking boots at the office. And we agree with M'Lynn: we think it would be a shame to let them sit in the corner and collect dust.
For our third and final episode on the Paul's Boots project, we bring you the story of thru-hiker Alex Newlon, who carried a pair of boots the entire length of the AT, and we have one last ask for you:
Where do these boots go next?
Email ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org
Watch the full Paul's Boots film.
Listen to the first Paul's Boots episode and the Update from the Trail episode.
This is our seventh annual Tales of Terror episode. Over the past seven years, we've read a lot of scary stories about things that happen out in the woods. We've discovered that there are all kinds of frightening things that can happen out there, but there are two ingredients that, mixed together, seem to lead to a terrifying experience more often than anything else:
1. Going out alone
2. Trying to go to sleep
Today, we bring you three stories of what happens when you try to go to sleep alone in the woods. First, we'll hear from Ryan Taylor, then from Jason Prinster and then from Duct Tape Then Beer's very own Isaiah Branch-Boyle. Happy Halloween, everyone. Maybe go camping with a buddy.
In the fall of 2015, photographer Pete McBride and writer Kevin Fedarko embarked upon a journey to rally support to protect one of our most awe-inspiring national treasures: the Grand Canyon. Their method? A 700+ mile sectional thru-hike of the wilderness that lies between the rim and the river. They knew the trek would challenge them, but they had no idea how quickly and completely the canyon would leave them demoralized and physically destroyed.
The two of them were contemplating giving up when, as Kevin puts it, 'A miracle happened'.
Today, a story about three people who have dedicated the better part of their lives to developing a unique skill--and a project so complicated and important that it required their cumulative experience to pull it off. It's also a story about friendship, and how friends working toward a common goal can lead to something greater than the sum of its parts.
You can find Pete's photography and film at: www.petemcbride.com/
To hear more from Kevin, pick up a copy of his book, The Emerald Mile, or listen to the Diaries episode, "The Threshold Moment."
To learn more about Pete and Kevin's journey, check out these two articles: "6 Painful Lessons I Learned by Hiking the Grand Canyon" and "Are We Losing the Grand Canyon?"
To learn more about the current threats to the Grand Canyon and what you can do to help, visit: savetheconfluence.com
"The days and months on the road had unspooled before us and we'd simply followed the thread. But the bobbin was empty now," writes Dave McAllister. "Fine Jade would be the last cumulative "now" we shared, the final adventure we'd have as a group. At least on this trip. Maybe ever."
Last spring, Dave and his band of dirtbag travelers celebrated their last moments together and helped their friends get hitched in style--atop a desert tower. Today, we bring you a story of gumby ingenuity, spring in the desert, feather boas and a little tale of 'dirtbag theology' in motion.
You can find more of Dave's writing at: Thundercling.com
Last winter, we received an email from M'Lynn. Her late husband, Paul, had a dream to hike the Appalachian Trail. He never made it to the AT--but, M'Lynn thought, maybe his boots could?
Maybe they could serve as a reminder for all of us to live our dreams while we can. Maybe they could go one step further and literally pull someone off the couch and onto the trail.
We asked you, our community, to help us make that dream a reality. More than 400 emails poured in, from seasoned thru-hikers to first-time backpackers. We heard a resounding, 'Let me know how I can help'. We knew we were part of an incredible community, but damn. We're floored.
Today, we bring you an update on the journey Paul's boots have made over the past nine months, introduce you to some of the hikers who carried Paul's boots and hear M'Lynn's reaction.
Listen to the first Paul's Boots episode. Learn more about the Paul's Boots Project.
"Maybe you and I would have the same recommendation--from my standpoint to the climbers out there, and from your standpoint to the mother's of those climbers out there," Kyle Dempster said to his mother. "Talk about the worst case scenario. Don't pretend that it doesn't exist. Express the love that you have for each other, and also the insurance that, in the event of worst case scenario, life will go on."
On August 22nd, 2016, Kyle and his climbing partner Scott Adamson went missing on Pakistan's Ogre II. After days of bad weather, friends and family, with incredible help from the Pakistani government, were able to conduct a search, but found no trace of the two climbers.
Our hearts go out to Terry and to all of Kyle's friends and loved ones. We know that he understood the risks involved in the activities he did, and we know that still doesn't it any easier for the people close to him to live with the hole he's left in their lives. Kyle was one in a billion.
We originally aired a version of this episode in 2014--a story from Kyle and his mother, Terry, about the struggle of loving an adventurer. The struggle between loving them so much that you don't want to see them hurt, and loving them so much that you want to support them in pursuing their dreams and doing the things that make them tick.
Last year, we reworked this piece to submit to the Third Coast Audio Festival. We have never aired this version publicly. It seemed like the right moment.
Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic are the expedition kayakers. Over the past decade, the duo have made first descents of over 120 rivers in wildly remote locations across 36 countries and 6 continents. In 2016, Ben and Chris traveled to Myanmar to complete a source to sea descent of the Irrawaddy River.
The both say it was the first time they failed completely to accomplish their objective--and also one of the richest experiences they've ever had.
"Had we floated freely down the Irrawaddy, I don't know that we would've learned nearly as much about what actually was going on," says Ben. "The corruption that's occurring in that area stopped us from running the river. It wasn't just a side note. It was directly in front of us."
Today we, bring you a story about the intersection of politics and adventure, and about the richness in failure.
You can read more about Ben and Chris's trip to Myanmar here.
"I think all of us -- dad, me, my brother -- recognized a window of opportunity in which our flexibility as freelancers overlapped with dad's entrance into the golden years of being both retired and fit," says David Hanson. "Plus, it felt like dad and I had some things to figure out. Our differences weren't just that he liked park lodges and I preferred remote bivy sites."
For the past five years, David's father, Scott, has visited a cluster of National Parks. And every year, David and his brother take turns accompanying him. Today, we travel with David and his father to Carlsbad Caverns, Guadalupe Mountains and Big Bend in search of two of the greatest gifts our public lands give us: family time and common ground.
You can find David's writing, photos and video at: davidhandson3.com
"Over two weeks I went from pretty 'fine'--I have to say 'fine' with air quotes and an eye roll because it's that kind of fine--so, I went from 'fine' to 'I'm out'! I just needed a life restart," says Katie Crafts.
For her thirtieth birthday, Katie gave herself a trip on a cruise to Antarctica. In the other, older passengers on the ship, she caught a glimpse of her future if she continued on the path she was on. In the ship's crew, she saw something else: a superwoman equivalent of herself. Today, we bring you the story of a journey to the far reaches of our planet, and of what it takes to see the person you want to be, and then become that person. It starts with saying 'yes'.