Denial

Why we all ignore facts — even when they stare us in the face

 Backcountry guide Cindy Gagnon (Photo by Josh Vertucci)

Backcountry guide Cindy Gagnon (Photo by Josh Vertucci)

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.


In order to do anything really great, we have to go in with our blinders on. Because we wouldn’t start any project if we thought about all the uncertainty and complexity that might be involved.
— Philip Fernbach
 

Bishop Sand is the host and founder of the podcast Qualia, which immerses listeners in science experiments.

 

Support for this episode comes from DISH Outdoors.

Use the promo code PRO50 at checkout to get $50 off your Tailgater Pro and DISH receiver bundle.

The Instinct to Kill

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Deep down, are we all hunters?

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.

Behind a Pane of Glass

 Olivia Round on her bike trip from Oregon to Florida. (Photo courtesy Olivia Round)

Olivia Round on her bike trip from Oregon to Florida. (Photo courtesy Olivia Round)

Cycling cross country to escape your biggest fear

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.

As a young woman, I felt like I’d been born with a neon sign over my head and a bullseye between my legs.
— Olivia Round
 

Solo

Can you be strong, independent and capable — and still need help?

 Jen Kinney on the Mountain To Sea Trail. (Photo by Jen Kinney)

Jen Kinney on the Mountain To Sea Trail. (Photo by Jen Kinney)

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.


I think of myself as an independent person. In fact, if you asked my ex, he might say it was actually a problem in our relationship. He would try to help me out with some simple task, and I would tell him, ‘No, I can do that myself.’
— Jen Kinney
 

My Big Fat Greek Breakup

 A beach in Sarti. (Photo by Maya Kroth)

A beach in Sarti. (Photo by Maya Kroth)

When Type A meets Plan B

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.


What good was living the dream if I was destined to do it alone?
— Maya Kroth
 

Hear other stories by Maya Kroth on Out There...

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The Same Humanity

When disaster brings out the best in us

Another Channel 1.jpg

Another Channel

What if the lines between science and religion aren't so clear?

Thank You To My Mom

Searching for the woman you never truly knew

 A photo of Nicole Jacot von Kaenel, Camille's mother, shared by her Ecuadorian friends to Camille in Quito. Unknown location and date - most likely Switzerland. (Courtesy Camille von Kaenel)

A photo of Nicole Jacot von Kaenel, Camille's mother, shared by her Ecuadorian friends to Camille in Quito. Unknown location and date - most likely Switzerland. (Courtesy Camille von Kaenel)

It wasn't until after her mother died that Camille von Kaenel realized just how little she knew about her. The mother she knew -- or thought she knew -- was a stereotypical homemaker, a mom who drove her kids to soccer games and occupied her free time with cooking shows.

But after her untimely death, Camille would learn about a very different side to her mother. She would come to meet a woman she had never known — and through that process, she gained a whole new admiration for the parent she had 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. 


What was her childhood like? Why had she decided to become a mother? Was she happy? ... Those questions about my mom continued to haunt me.
— Camille von Kaenel
 

The Right to Complain

If you have a problem, but others are worse off, should you shut up?

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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. 

 
I went into mansplaining mode. I told her she didn’t know pollution at all. The way I saw it was, ‘What could you possibly be worried about in New York!? Surely it can’t be anywhere near as bad as what I put up with!’
— James Bennett

This episode sponsored by

 
 

A Little Too Late

What dreams can show us about our loved ones — and ourselves

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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.

 
 
 
I told people that I wanted to celebrate my 40th birthday in a big way, but the truth was I was living a huge lie concerning my marriage.
— Mary Roberts
 

A version of this story was first told at a live storytelling event hosted by KUNC in Fort Collins, Colorado in 2017.

This episode sponsored by...

 
 

We Followed Our Hearts

Is it better to listen to reason, or defy your own better judgement?

 Grace and Tom on a beach in Maine (Photo courtesy Grace Henes)

Grace and Tom on a beach in Maine (Photo courtesy Grace Henes)

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.

 
 
We both knew how hard it was, struggling through a long-distance relationship. And then what? Another year, miles apart, only to find out we still couldn’t live in the same place?
— Grace Henes
 
 

This episode sponsored by...

 
 

My Inner Teenager

Discovering the line between confidence and arrogance

 Mt. Adams, the second peak on the Presidential Traverse, was engulfed in fog and raging winds when Bassam Tarazi attempted it. (Photo by Bassam Tarazi)

Mt. Adams, the second peak on the Presidential Traverse, was engulfed in fog and raging winds when Bassam Tarazi attempted it. (Photo by Bassam Tarazi)

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.

 
 
 
 
 
I thrived off of the momentary discomfort that comes from putting yourself out there and taking risks, because the rewards were so fulfilling.
— Bassam Tarazi

Bassam Tarazi is an explorer and author based in Portland, Oregon. His latest book is called Borders, Bandits and Baby Wipes: A Big Adventure in a Tiny Car.

Support for this episode comes from...

 
 
 
 

Nothing Left to Give

A homeless man, a lost cat, and a relationship that healed the scars of a broken past

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.

 
 
She gave him someone to love and care for. ... Michael craves that; he’s a nurturer.
— Britt Collins
 
 
 
 Michael and Tabor. (Photo courtesy Britt Collins)

Michael and Tabor. (Photo courtesy Britt Collins)

Britt Collins' book is called Strays. It's available in hardcover on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, and in other bookstores now, and it comes out in paperback in June.

Britt is also launching a cat festival in London this summer. Yes, a cat festival.


Support for this episode comes from...

 
 
 

With My Toes in the Sand

Breaking free of the urge to run when the going gets rough

 Susan Conrad in her kayak on the inside passage. (Photo courtesy Susan Conrad)

Susan Conrad in her kayak on the inside passage. (Photo courtesy Susan Conrad)

Throughout her whole 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 (#MeToo), 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.

 
 
 
I knew I was going down the wrong path when I found myself rummaging through my backcountry first-aid kit for pain pills that were prescribed years ago for emergencies.
— Susan Conrad
 

Special thanks to Steve Jahn and Ben Wells for recording Susan's story. Steve and Ben are part of Burnt Breakfast, a 5-piece band specializing in "mud blues" in the Puget Sound area of Washington State.

Support for this episode comes from...

 
 
 

The More I've Given Up

A guest interview about the happiness gained through living with less

 Rob Greenfield (Right) goes dumpster diving with his partner, Cheryl Davies. (Photo courtesy Rob Greenfield)

Rob Greenfield (Right) goes dumpster diving with his partner, Cheryl Davies. (Photo courtesy Rob Greenfield)

We're switching things up a bit today, and bringing you excerpts from an episode of Wild Ideas Worth Living.

Wild Ideas Worth Living is a podcast about people who have wild ideas -- ideas that others think are crazy -- and do them anyway.

On this episode, 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.

 
 
 
 
If I don’t have a $100 cell phone bill, which is $1,200 a year, that means $1200 worth of work that I don’t have to do, which means I can be doing what I love to do.
— Rob Greenfield
 
 

This episode sponsored by...

 
 

A Few Steps Closer

What happens when you start to forget the person you lost?

 Lara McCaffrey and her family pose for a selfie at torrey pines State Natural Preserve. (Photo by Lara McCaffrey)

Lara McCaffrey and her family pose for a selfie at torrey pines State Natural Preserve. (Photo by Lara McCaffrey)

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.

This episode is sponsored by...

I was spending so much energy trying NOT to think about my dad, that I was literally forgetting him. ... And so now, not only was he gone physically, but I couldn’t feel his influence on me anymore. It’s like he was miles away. Unreachable.
— Lara McCaffrey
 
 

The Sand Is For Me

A city girl, a mysterious illness, and a surprising love affair with nature

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.

 Illustration by Mari Andrew

Illustration by Mari Andrew

This episode sponsored by...

 
 

Podcast Past, Podcast Present, Podcast Yet-To-Come

 Alex Eggerking (right) came on board as Out THere's marketing and business development director earlier this year. In September, she and Willow (left) spent several days in Wyoming, brainstorming, hiking -- and celebrating successes,

Alex Eggerking (right) came on board as Out THere's marketing and business development director earlier this year. In September, she and Willow (left) spent several days in Wyoming, brainstorming, hiking -- and celebrating successes,

2017 has been a big year for Out There:

  • We grew from a one-woman show, to a team of three; 
  • We started producing the podcast twice as often;
  • We won the gold medal at PRNDI (a national organization of radio producers) for best independently produced podcast nation-wide; 
  • We increased our listenership more than seven-fold; 
  • We signed on our first sponsors.

Needless to say, it's been an exciting ride. And we're even more excited about the year ahead.

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.

 EVery great artistic endeavor involves notes scrawled on a napkin at a bar, right? 

EVery great artistic endeavor involves notes scrawled on a napkin at a bar, right? 

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!

 

The Same Humanity

 

When disaster brings out the best in us

 Hundreds or even thousands of volunteers brought donations of medicines, bottled water, baby food, pet food and more to a donation center in Mexico City following the September earthquake there. (photo by Maya Kroth)

Hundreds or even thousands of volunteers brought donations of medicines, bottled water, baby food, pet food and more to a donation center in Mexico City following the September earthquake there. (photo by Maya Kroth)

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.

 
If this had happened in the U.S., I would’ve waited for someone in charge to tell me where to go, what to do. But here, it’s like everybody knows that nobody is really in charge, so they just do it themselves.
— Maya Kroth
 

Maya Kroth has been on Out There before. Her previous piece, Another Channel, tells the story of one of those eerie coincidences that can't quite be explained by science.

This episode sponsored by...

 
 
 

Coyote's Beauty Secrets

Breaking free of the need to hide who you are

 Photo courtesy Becky Jensen

Photo courtesy Becky Jensen

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.

 
 
The more I worked to hide my flaws, the more I blended in, and the verbal judgments eased up. I learned that it pays to hide.
— Becky Jensen
 

Want to read the whole story? Misadventures Magazine published a print version. Go back and reread all your favorite parts, see additional photos, and share with friends!

Becky has been on Out There before. If you liked this story, check out her other piece, The Motherload. It's about how doing something selfish can be good for those around you.

This episode sponsored by...

 
 

When Nature Knows Best

Why reaching my breaking point was exactly what I needed

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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.

 
Maybe nature made that bike ride so miserable because she knew I’d never abandon my plan unless that plan truly broke me. So she forced me to quit.
— Willow Belden
 

The Friendliest Way

Do we live in a world where nice people can finish first?

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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.

 
Sometimes, kindness doesn’t seem like an option. Even for a happy-go-lucky guy like me.
— Noam Osband
 
 

SPOILER ALERT: The video below is rad, but you might want to listen to the story before watching it...