Back in 2018, we ranked our top ten hiking and outdoors podcasts of 2018. In 2019, we changed the format, listing our five favorite hiking and outdoors individual podcast episodes of 2019. We consume a lot of podcasts, and those focused on being outdoors seem to have proliferated exponentially since we started listening. That’s why, in 2020, we are trying something new. This year, we will attempt to pick out the five best hiking and outdoors podcast episodes each month (or at least our favorites).
The best podcasts we heard in February focused on mindfulness – bringing wildlife to the forefront through art, to living purposefully, without technological input, to mental training and using the outdoor spaces we have. Below are the five best hiking and outdoors podcast episodes we listened to in February 2020, with a brief description of each podcast.
A warning – playing podcasts or music on external speakers while hiking is basically a capital offense. Playing podcasts or music through headphones/earbuds while hiking is somewhere in the spectrum of inadvisable to mortally dangerous. Just from a common sense standpoint, why would you want to have your hearing and attention somewhere else if you want to maximize the benefits of being immersed in the outdoors (or, more basically, fail to hear the bear you just startled)? All that being said, hike your own hike.
Driving by Californa billboards, artist Jane Kim was inspired to begin creating large-scale public murals of animals along the migration routes they share with humans. This idea, beginning with Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep along California highway 395, has recently culminated in a painting that includes a 50-foot-tall monarch butterfly, on a 13-story building in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district.
This public art helps the viewer realize what is possible, places the animal in the conscious mind, and draws attention to the potential shared environment for these creatures in urban green spaces (37 minutes).
Apple Podcast link: A Long-Shot Bid to Save the Monarch Butterfly
The title of this episode is drawn from a Milton quote favored by conservationist and author Guy Waterman: “Accuse not Nature, she hath done her part; do thou but thine.” Guy suffered from depression, and died of exposure on Franconia Ridge in 2000. Guy’s widow, Laura Waterman, tells her story in this episode. Both Guy and Laura escaped office jobs, turning to the mountains of Vermont and a subsistence life in the woods.
At their home, they meticulously documented and recorded everything, from rainfall to temperature, to maple syrup, to the top-producing blueberry bushes, an accounting of nature’s minutiae that led to a heightened awareness. The books Guy and Laura wrote, including Backwoods Ethics, explored timely issues like the capacity of natural places for human use, and Laura explains the progression of these ideas over time.
Apple Podcast link: Nature Has Done Her Part
In 2015, Australian journalist Sarah Allely suffered a mild traumatic brain injury after being hit by a car while riding her bike, and struggled to regain her former brain function. Allely documented her recovery in a documentary podcast series called Brain on Nature. Allely began to notice the recuperative effect of nature, starting by spending time in her garden.
Allely interviewed experts, and found the results made sense – mindful time in nature is the opposite of looking at screens, and can be stimulating to the brain, but also restful and restorative. The overload on the prefrontal cortex can sometimes be alleviated by something as simple as a walk in nature (42 mins).
Apple Podcast link: Brain on Nature
This concise weekly podcast by Australian trainer Rowan Smith focuses on practical tips to train for hiking and mountaineering. In this February episode, Smith relays specific advice for preparing to tackle hikes over uneven and rough terrain. According to Smith, the best preparation is (obviously) hiking, followed by strength training. Smith recommends single-leg strength and proprioreception training to promote stability and injury prevention.
Following this strength advice, Smith pivots to belly breathing and a focus technique as an inoculation against stress. The physical and mental strategies outlined in this short episode can be used to prepare your body for jumping over actual rocks and roots, or the more metaphorical uneven path we all traverse (15 minutes).
Apple Podcast link: Preparing For Uneven Terrain
In this episode, Shelby Stanger checks in with Shanti Hodges, who created Hike It Baby, which has become a nationwide network of parents and children hiking together and creating support groups through a shared activity. Hodges, a new mother in Portland, Oregon, grew frustrated with the limited activities for mothers and babies, and built her own community from the ground up.
Hodges discusses the challenges of parenthood, and the benefits (and limits) of the outdoors. Hodges then details her pivot from being consumed by Hike It Baby to her now spending more time with her son, and guiding and running womens’ retreats, while keeping involved with Hike It Baby. Stanger and Hodges then close with a helpful discussion of the best tips and gear for hiking with very small children (39 minutes).
Apple Podcast link: Shanti Hodges: Getting Kids Outside
Disagree? Have suggestions? Leave a comment or Contact us.