The Dirtbag Diaries

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"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.
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.
“I did the skiing thing, I did the Navajo thing, and those worlds didn’t cross,” says Len Necefer. After learning how to ski-mountaineer in the winter of 2017, Len set out on an ambitious goal: to connect the Navajo cultural traditions of the mountains he comes from with his new love-- skiing.
Today, Carly Rushford and Paddy O’Connell find their edge on the snowy mountain slopes. In our first double-short episode, we hear how downhill skiing has helped Carly and Paddy shape their place and purpose in the world.
What connects the past, present and future of rock climbing?  In season one of Climbing Gold, the sport’s biggest star Alex Honnold and co-host Fitz Cahall take you on a tour through climbing, from the early days of the lunatic fringe where dirtbag climbers gambled with their lives to chase the edge of human imagination, to today’s new generation of athletes who have risen to the top of their sport without ever having touched the world’s most famous summits. Pushing the boundaries of climbing has always meant challenging the assumptions and status quo of the previous generation.  Athletes. Risk takers. Dirtbags. Pioneers. Community builders. Outsiders. Leaders. Please join us to hear the voices and stories of climbing’s past and future.
“From here, it’s going to be easy.” Ryan Wichelns and Gabe Messercola repeated this phrase throughout their 21 day expedition in Denali National Park in 2015. From crossing scree-covered glaciers, to traversing ridgelines and downclimbing icy cliffs, to fording waist-deep rivers, Alaska taught these young mountaineers a lesson in making and letting go of plans. See an overview of their route. 
“I think being on foot just allows you to walk past a person's front door. I think that's really important," says Rickey Gates. Rickey learned a lot about his country when ran across the United States. But when he finished, he realized his trip was incomplete and he set out to run every single street in San Francisco. His efforts to get to know the place he calls home ignited a movement of people getting to know their local communities all over the world. Find maps, photos, and more at Rickey's website
“Thru-hiking started to feel like a compulsion: I had to hike the same way I had to breathe,” writes Eloise Robbins. After she fell in love with another thru-hiker on the PCT, she uprooted her life to be with him in Canada. Deprived of a job, a community, and most of all--mountains, Eloise wondered if the sacrifice for love was worth it.
“There should be no friction in the system. If someone wants to come and climb, they should be able to come and climb,” says Abby Dione, owner of Coral Cliffs in Florida. When Abby had to close her doors in March 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions, she wasn’t sure how long she could keep the business afloat. Faced with losing its only climbing gym, and fueled by a spark of ingenuity, the community had to consider how much they valued the gym beyond the climbing holds.
When Doug Barclift decided to start a business, he headed to an untraditional spot to buy his real estate-- a junkyard. There he found the school bus, wedged between a trailer and a stack of cars, that he would transform into his own paddleboard company. And when a pandemic, civil unrest, and forest fires all threatened to thwart him, Doug kept paddling out to stay positive in a difficult year.  And friends and previous contributors share their goals to keep you dreaming and scheming, even when it feels like we’re just trying to get through another year. 
“No one is going to talk me out of doing this because this is a great idea,” says Becca Skinner. “I just gave the best Christmas gift and everyone is going to thank me later.” When Becca surprised her family with an overnight stay in a fire lookout cabin, she expected their holiday vacation to be a little more cozy than it turned out to be. In this episode, we follow the Skinner family through a frozen holiday and are reminded sometimes misadventures bring us closer together. 
In 2019, Will Dunlap began having existential questions about his place in the world. So he bought a plane ticket to Alaska, rented a kayak, and set out for the Taku Inlet. Through bitter rains and long days of paddling, Will experienced an inner journey he would never forget.
Growing up in Guadalajara, Mexico, Fernanda Rodriguez had never heard of “climbing” until she stumbled across a group of boulderers in the forest. That day, she remembers feeling “like a flame was lit inside my heart.” At 15, despite the tide of economic and cultural challenge that faced her, Fernanda made up her mind to become one of the best climbers in her country. 
When Carmen Kuntz thinks “adventure,” it doesn’t always mean a mega-trip many miles from home. Instead, she challenged herself and her friends to invent an adventure just out the backdoor. With skis, skins and paddles, they rediscover a familiar landscape in the Coastal Mountains of British Columbia.
Bloody tracks on a dark road. Hooded figures juggling lights. Eerie handprints appearing. We hope you’re ready to get spooky with our annual Tales of Terror! We have three stories from the backcountry that will send chills down your spine. Turn down the lights and grab your teddy bear. Happy Halloween!
“Everything that we love is affected by politics for better or worse, and we can't afford to not be engaged with it,” says Canyon Woodward.  Today we hear stories from two people who’ve leaned in and worked directly with elected leaders to have a say in the future of the places we love. Canyon Woodward explains how trail running is a lot like running for office, and Kareemah Batts shares what it’s like to Climb The Hill on behalf of public lands and the outdoor community. We also hear from a broad set of voices across our country about why participation in the democratic process matters. We’re all in this together.
“I'm stubborn,” reflects Steve Baskis. “When my mind tells me not to do something because I'm afraid or nervous, I tend to tell myself to do it.” What happens when you lose something fundamental to how you function in the world in a single second? For ex-infantryman Steve Baskis wounded in Iraq, it meant staying on the bright side, looking forward, and never giving up.
Today, we are sharing one of our favorite podcasts-- Scene on Radio. Over the course of twelve episodes, host John Biewen and collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika explore a theme both evergreen and immediately urgent: democracy in America. Fitz talks with John about the recent season and shares the trailer. From Scene On Radio: “Our season-long series will touch on concerns like authoritarianism, voter suppression and gerrymandering, foreign intervention, and the role of money in politics, but we’ll go much deeper, effectively retelling the story of the United States from its beginnings up to the present. Through field recordings and interviews with leading thinkers, we’ll tell under-told stories and explore critical questions like—How democratic was the U.S. ever meant to be, anyway? American democracy is clearly in crisis today, but . . . when was it not? Along the way, there’s a good chance that we’ll complicate, maybe upend, our listeners’ understanding of American history.”
“I do not remember the ‘first time’ we played hide-n-seek in the barn,” recalls producer Cordelia Zars, “it just always happened.” How do you stay positive when you’re hiding from a pandemic and wildfire smoke with no end in sight? For Cordelia, reflecting on her favorite childhood game brought her some perspective.
Bailey, Colorado is a rural town in the Rocky Mountains. “Bailey is boating hell. There is no water around us at all,” says high school teacher Steve Hanford. Now, imagine 13 high school students building a triple-hulled canoe from scratch and racing it on the ocean. Despite the critics who said they couldn’t, the students and teachers believed in their own power to succeed. 
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 whitewater.
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.
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Podcast Details

Created by
Duct Tape Then Beer
Podcast Status
Mar 1st, 2007
Latest Episode
Apr 9th, 2021
Release Period
2 per month
Avg. Episode Length
23 minutes

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