5 Best Hiking and Outdoor Podcast Episodes of February 2020

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.

Icy mill dam outlet of Heald Pond, Lovell, ME
Icy mill dam outlet of Heald Pond, Lovell, ME

outside1. A Long-Shot Bid to Save the Monarch Butterfly (February 5, 2020) from Outside Podcast

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


Outside In2. Nature Has Done Her Part (February 6, 2020) from Outside/In Podcast

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


OutThere_logo-variations-13

3. Brain on Nature (February 6, 2020) from Out There Podcast

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


Training for Trekking

4. Preparing For Uneven Terrain (February 3, 2020) from The Training for Trekking Podcast

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


Wild Ideas Worth Living5. Shanti Hodges: Getting Kids Outside from Wild Ideas Worth Living

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.

5 Best Hiking and Outdoor Podcast Episodes of January 2020

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).

January is a month when we reflect upon the past year, and look forward to the new one.  It is a time tailor-made for introspection, and we listened to a variety of great podcasts focused on new beginnings, winter reflections, and renewal through the outdoors.  Below are the five best hiking and outdoors podcast episodes we listened to in January 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.

Winter sunrise on Hawk Mountain, Waterford, ME
Winter sunrise on Hawk Mountain, Waterford, ME

Dirtbag Diaries1. Mr. Hodges (January 24, 2020) from The Dirtbag Diaries

Can a schoolteacher have a generational impact?  Fitz Cahall and Cordelia Zars start by reminiscing about their favorite teachers, and memories of being trapped in school, when so much occurs outside the classroom.  Thus begins a fantastic oral history, recounting an epic summer break bike trip from the Alaska line down to southern California led by a unique teacher with 22 students in 1975.  The account, told by the nostalgic participants (including the surprisingly lively Mr. Hodges), is full of laughs, lessons, and misadventures, and reveals the lasting impact one unconventional role model can have for the rest of students’ lives (37 minutes).

Apple Podcast link: Mr. Hodges


Scotland Outdoors2. Nature is Good For You (January 4, 2020) by Scotland Outdoors

This podcast by BBC Radio, hosted by Mark Stephen and Euan McIlwraith, was new to us, and we were hooked from the very beginning.  From a roaring fire beside a Scottish river, Stephen and McIlwraith (“portly woodland elf”) oversee a variety of discussions and topics, focused on appreciating nature in the New Year, getting outside and active after “two weeks of waddlesome sloth.”  They introduce segments from contributors about medicinal and edible plants, planting and understanding trees, nature as a tool for PTSD, music inspired by the outdoors, and unlikely explorations.  The sounds of the crackling fire and the rolling burr of their voices create an intimate environment for storytelling (1 hr, 25 min).

Apple Podcast link: Nature is Good For You


 

G.O.

3. G.O. 092 – Roundtable: Embrace Your Discomfort Zone (January 1, 2020) from G.O. Get Outside

Get Outside’s Jason Milligan hosts a wide-ranging roundtable discussion by team Chick-a-Boom – Cyndi Wyatt, Marilee Valkass, and Saveria Tilden to discuss fears and misconceptions about the outdoors, and the benefits of working through these issues through education and perseverance.  This is a compelling and empowering examination of escaping the stresses and limitations of society through building a relationship with nature.  Throughout the podcast, the group provides tools and advice for all levels of outdoors exploration by using personal examples.  My favorite portion was a light-hearted discussion of risk management around dangerous animals, with the conclusion, “animals don’t have hospitals,” explaining the intrinsic decision-making conducted by predators (i.e. – it’s usually not worth attacking a human), and the importance of education.  The roundtable’s advice and common sense conclusions are the perfect way to begin the year with inspiration  (1 hr, 6 min).

Apple Podcast link: G.O. 092 – Roundtable: Embrace Your Discomfort Zone


Off Track - ABC Radio National

4. The Burning Bush is Talking (January 25, 2020) from Off Track

Dr. Ann Jones presents a timely story inspired by a social media post by Adrian Murgo, who noticed that the leaves of the gum trees on his property turned red and fell to the ground prior to the incursion of Australian wildfires.  This podcast takes the observations of a layperson, and attempts to explain it through the expertise of Professor Peter Vesk, a University of Melbourne ecologist, Professor Adrian Franklin, a University of South Australia sociologist and Oliver Costello, of Firesticks Alliance, an indigenous corporation, punctuated by the sounds of the Australian outback.  Do gum trees have awareness of fire, and are they built to burn?  How have indigenous peoples lived with gum trees, and acted as stewards of these “ancestor trees?”  Dr. Jones avoids easy conclusions or soundbites, and tells a powerful and insightful story about the Australian landscape (25 minutes).

Apple Podcast link: The burning bush is talking


 

Foot Stuff

5. FSP 091 – Where You’ll Find Me (January 29, 2020) from Foot Stuff Podcast

We heard about this podcast directly from the presenters, and were instantly hooked.  Matt Baer, Tyler Socash, Wade Bastian, and Jeremy Utz host an “Outdoor Recreation Comedy” which irreverently meanders through outdoor topics, stories, interviews, headlines, and advice from the Adirondacks.  In January 2019 on this blog, we reviewed Where You’ll Find Me, a book by Ty Gagne about a deadly trip to the White Mountains.  So we were thrilled to find this shorter “Blue Blaze” episode (a nod to the Appalachian Trail’s side trails), in which the Foot Stuff crew reviews the book, providing insight and humor.  They discuss everything from the actual tactile feeling of the physical book itself to the historical context of the Whites, to the decisions made by Kate Matrosova in her ill-fated traverse.  The in-depth discussion is appropriately respectful of the mortal nature of this tale, but punctuated by the jokes and anecdotes that make this podcast great (47 minutes).

Apple Podcast link: FSP 091 – Where You’ll Find Me


 

Disagree?  Have suggestions?  Leave a comment or Contact us.