The Dirtbag Diaries

The campfire tale—it’s ubiquitous in mountain culture. As long as we’ve climbed, skied, boated or traveled, we’ve been telling stories. In March of 2007, Fitz Cahall launched The Dirtbag Diaries, a grassroots podcast dedicated to the sometimes serious, often humorous stories from wild places. What began as a solitary experiment has evolved into a collaboration between writers, photographers, artists and listeners to produce the types of stories that rarely find homes in the glossy pages of magazines.

Listen to “Fistful of Hearts” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

“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…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “The Van Fan” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

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 his newly-renovated 1990 Dodge Ram van, Sherrod, for the job. The two of them threw in their skis, buckled…

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Listen to “Novel Inspiration” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

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,…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Mountain Hollow Dreams” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

“I’d built it up in my head a lot—being a professional climber. This felt like the consummation of those dreams. I found the valley, I envisioned the trip, I got the funding, made it happen, stood at the base, picked the line, climbed it, sent, we were at the top and it wasn’t feeling the…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Year of Big Ideas 2019” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

“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 Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Hit Pause” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

What if you could hit pause on life? This last year, Fitz turned 40. Instead of buying a sports car, Fitz took a sabbatical. Today, he presents a story about mountain biking the Oregon Timber Trail, a 670-mile-long, mostly single track trail across the state’s deserts and forests. What’s the difference between a groove and…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Endangered Spaces” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

Drew Hamilton makes a living by taking tourists out into the remote Alaskan wilderness to hang out with brown bears. No fences, no guns—just Drew, and the eight hundred pound, six and a half foot tall, Ursus arctos horribilis of southern Alaska. Most people call them grizzlies. These days, he does it, in large part, as a…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “The Glacier Project” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

“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…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Hootin’ and Hollerin'” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

“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 in Indian Creek that injured him…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Ethan and G-Pop” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

“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, these are skills that he thinks are important, and…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “A Story of My Own” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

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. “Sure, I could recite, and often wrote, the talking points: to stop sea level rise, stand with small island nations and…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “The Elephant in the Boat – Parts 1 & 2” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episodes

“The definition of kidnapping is moving someone from one point to another point against their will, and that’s exactly what had happened to us,” says Ben Stookesberry. “But, to me, the most noteworthy part of the day was that, for the first time in the entire trip, we were actually all working together as a…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Flyathlon” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode”

There are a lot of serious problems in this world, but the solutions don’t always have to be serious. Fly fisherman and trail 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. The rules: Run 10-miles Catch a…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Venture Out” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

“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…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Escape from Beacon Rock” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

“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, a few days later, on a ledge, high above the Columbia River, in…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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The Punk Rockers of Ski Mountaineering

“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. If there is a dream that we all lust after, then we’re all just trying to…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Endangered Spaces: Prince of Wales” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

“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, describing what it’s like to bushwhack through a 25-year old clear cut in Southeast Alaska. It’s something the…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “The Year of Big Ideas 2018” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

“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. This year, The Dirtbag Diaries opens their annual The Year of Big Ideas with an ode to “mediocrity” from Fitz, then turns, as…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Growing Down” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

I’ve watched my friends and peers hopscotch across the world. Some of them have reached the top of their craft, authored ridiculous lines up mountains, followed rivers into wrinkles of the deepest canyons, found the edge of human endurance. If I look back on the last ten years, I’m often surprised that I didn’t end…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Over the Line” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

“It’s like the Iditarod with a chance of drowning,” says Jake Beatty, one of the organizers of a bizarre, crazy race called the Race to Alaska. The course traces 750 miles of Alaska’s Inside Passage through complicated currents and tides, busy shipping channels and bear-ridden coastlines from Port Townsend, Washington, to Ketchikan, Alaska. In June.…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Tales of Terror Vol. 8” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

For our eighth annual Tales of Terror episode, we have not three, but 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. First, we visit an abandoned Pennsylvania town with Joe Shearer.…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Endangered Spaces: Boundary Waters” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

Raising awareness. It seems like every day, someone embarks on a new project to ‘raise awareness’ about a particular issue, cause, disease, endangered species or threatened public land. But what separates the projects that cut through the noise and the ones that get drowned out in the static of issues competing for our attention? For…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Winnebago Warriors” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

“When we were living in a house, we were always compromising because we had the weight of a mortgage, of doing 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…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “081” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

“Picture walking through a parking lot with a ski mask rolled up on your head and a pistol in your pocket. You’re getting closer to the bank, your heart’s beating faster, adrenaline’s starting to rush through your head, and you can’t believe you’re about to do what you’re about to do,” says Roland Thompson. “When…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Endangered Spaces: Katahdin Woods and Waters” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

“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 gonna 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.…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Picaflor” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

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…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Endangered Spaces: Bears Ears” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

“If you really want to have an adventure that’s not going to be sexy—it’s gonna be dirty and it’s gonna be rowdy—there’s a place out here for you,” says Josh Ewing. “It’s the chance to do something where you’re not going to see another climber.” In the beginning, Josh came to Bears Ears, Utah, in…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “The Fear Is Real” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

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…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Leaving the Races Behind” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

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…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “The Year of Big Ideas 2017” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

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 we want things to go well or if we want to move forward or to grow, then two, almost evenly divided, sides of this country can’t remain at…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “To Infinity” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

Chad Kellogg. September 22, 1971 to February 14, 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…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “CoMOMdo” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

“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…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Tales of Terror Vol. 7” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

This is our seventh annual Tales of Terror episode. Over the past seven years, we’ve read a lot of stories about scary 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…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “No Way Around It” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

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. They both say…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Start Saying Yes” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

“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.…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “The Ultimate Weekend Warrior” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

Jim Herson and Anne Smith live in the Bay Area. They’re in their fifties. Jim has worked the same computer science job since he graduated college in 1982, and he and Anne have been together nearly that long. They have two kids, a 17-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old son, who they shuttle around the city…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Live From 5Point Vol. 9” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

Before Semi-Rad.com, Brendan Leonard wrote a Short for The Dirtbag Diaries called “Sixty Meters to Anywhere.” He recently published a book with the same title, documenting his journey from handcuffs to hand-jams, from rural Iowa to the mountains of Colorado and from business casual to assignments for Climbing magazine. We returned from our sixth annual…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Trespassers” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

Artwork: Walker Cahall “You have to imagine that you’re on the frozen Arctic Ocean. You’re six miles from shore, you can’t really tell where the ocean stops and the white shore begins. All you see is white–and this thing where they’re dumping crap into the ocean to make this island,” says Dan Ritzman. “And, there,…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “A Slosh in the Bucket” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

Artwork: Walker Cahall Eric Johnson lives in Sturgis, South Dakota with his wife and three young daughters. He works as a high school English teacher. He’s responsible—well, most of the time. Half way into his thirties, Eric emptied his retirement account to buy a raft, despite the fact that he lives in a state without…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Roll the Dice” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

“We started the trip without much of a purpose,” writes Fil Corbitt. “We wanted to be pushed around. Wanted to find something we didn’t know we were looking for. We wanted to take some small chance and see where we landed. And see which side was facing up.” But how do you find that kind…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Everybody Loves LeeRoy” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

God told Steve Wescott to walk from the Space Needle to Times Square, NYC, with a goat named LeeRoy, to raise $200,000 for an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya. Or at least that’s the elevator pitch. In truth, when Steve started out of Seattle in 2011, it had much less to do with God, and much…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Tales of Terror Vol. 6” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

Phantasmal footsteps, strange silhouettes, inexplicable movements and unaccountable sounds. In our sixth annual Tales of Terror, Bix Firer, Lorraine Campbell and Kealan Sojack share three stories of ‘What the *&@! was that’? A dream? Or an indication that, perhaps, we are not as alone in the woods as we like to think. Happy Halloween. Listen to “Tales…

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Listen to “Beyond the Lines” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

Maps. We’ve all studied them. Stuffed them into backpacks or the seat back pocket of our car. Maybe we’ve even been led astray by a map. But have you ever thought about the person who made that map? Or how that person might influence your initial impression of a landscape? “A map is not a…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “700” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

“I was looking for no less than a new way of living in this world for our entire society,” says Clay Shank. “Like, what’s the alternative to this capitalistic system that we have here?” Today, we bring you “700,” the story of Clay Shank’s ambitious goal to find a new way of life and his…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Live from 5Point Vol. 8 with Frank Sanders and Tommy Caldwell” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

In our fifth annual Live from 5Point Film Festival, we interview Frank Sanders and Tommy Caldwell. Frank spent his youth climbing on the East coast. His path took a turn in 1972, when he hitchhiked west and saw Devil’s Tower for the first time. Now, at 63, Frank owns and guides out of Devil’s Tower…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “The Modern Dirtbag” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

In the golden days, dirtbags lived to climb. They didn’t work, have permanent addresses or sponsors. They ate leftovers off of tourists’ plates and slept in beater cars or in caves. They stayed in one place only as long as the weather allowed for climbing. Now, our modern world of fees, time limits and locked…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “The Threshold Moment” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

When Kevin Fedarko stepped through the door of the O.A.R.S. boathouse in Flagstaff, Arizona, he didn’t realize he had crossed a figurative threshold as well as a literal one. Kevin had planned on rafting the Grand Canyon for a wilderness medicine course. Then, he planned to go back to his life as a successful freelance…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “El Avalanchisto” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

When Matt McKee first heard about the position forecasting avalanches for Minera Pimenton, a gold mine in the Chilean Andes, it sounded like the snow geek’s dream job. But mere hours after his plane touched down in Santiago, Matt started getting hints that maybe he had walked into a situation that more closely resembled a…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Adventure 1000” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

It’s time for our annual Year of Big Ideas episode. This year, we talked to Alastair Humphreys, a 2012 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. Among other things, Alastair has walked across India, and 1,000 miles through the largest sand desert in the world, cycled 46,000 miles around the world in four years and rowed across the…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Flying Deep” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

By Fitz & Becca Cahall There comes a stage in a great athlete’s career when the pursuit of technical difficulty takes a back seat. It gives way to simplicity, an aesthetic and possibly to an iconic style that leaves an impression on a sport. Will Gadd is one of the most accomplished mountain athletes ever. Most people…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “What You’re Handed” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

Regardless of how you choose to play outside, if someone gets hurt in the mountains, the first step on the checklist remains the same: “scene safety”—you make sure the thing that hurt your buddy isn’t going to hurt you too. But there’s no checklist for emotional safety when things go wrong. Today we bring you…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Tales of Terror Vol. 5” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

Ghost stories. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, ghost stories have a way of seeping into your mind. And, if they’re really good, suddenly, that soft rapping on the window or the flickering lights become more ominous–like we’ve primed out minds to seek another explanation. In part, that’s the fun of ghost stories. But…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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“FORCE:” The Story of Mikey Schaefer

Update 4/1/15: Previously shown at Patagonia retail stores and film festivals, we’re happy to share the full film with you online. Warning: Contains expletives. I’m a homebody. My friend Mikey Schaefer is not. I made a conscious choice to develop a lifelong relationship with my local ranges and the urban environment right out my front…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Mothers Have It Hardest” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

“I remember really quickly going from, ‘Wow, I’m home, this feels great’, to ‘Holy s***, what did I do to my mom’?” says alpinist Kyle Dempster. “And that was the first time I saw how truly difficult it is for mothers.” Today, we bring you two stories—one from Hilary Oliver, and one from Kyle Dempster…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Widge” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

“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…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Live From 5Point Vol. 7” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

A month ago, we headed south for our annual pilgrimage to the 5Point Film Festival and our live Dirtbag Diaries. Today, we share stories from two women, from two different generations who share a love for rivers. In 2013, Amber Valenti had the opportunity to paddle one of the last great free-flowing rivers in the…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “The World by Bike” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

Committed. It’s a word we use to describe people we know, our friends, even ourselves. Committed to a sport. A ski line. An ethic. A lifestyle. It can be relatively easy to commit to those daily or short-term goals. But carving out time to achieve a bigger dream, something that may take weeks or months,…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “The Treewok” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

The average American spends a third of their income on housing. Almost as much as the next two greatest expenses — food and transportation — combined. So, theoretically, if you just stopped paying for housing, you could earn a living working three days a week. Or two thirds of the year. Today, we bring you…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “The Remotest” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

We all know the feeling of remoteness. The stillness. The perspective. It’s part of what keeps drawing us outside. But what does it feel like to be standing, literally, in the most remote place in a state? In the country? And what might those places reveal about the fate of our country’s wild lands? In…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “The Year of Big Ideas 2014” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

Plastic bags. They clog drawers, landfills, coastlines and trailheads. Recycling them is confusing and inefficient. But what if there was a way to turn the trash into something of value? Enter Industrial Designer Will Wells. Today, we bring you our annual Year of Big Ideas. We talked to contributors and friends about their goals for…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “If You Build It” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

Powerful ideas often demand that we leave the comfort of a safety net. We quit a nine to five. We take out a second mortgage on our house. Along the way, we can expect to be called crazy one day and brilliant the next. In the late 1990s, Jeff Pensiero had an idea, to build…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Tales of Terror Vol. 4” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

Is there something out there? It’s a question that lurks in the back of my mind. Probably in yours too. It’s one of the very reasons why I love the outdoors: the unpredictability. Over the years, I’ve collected experiences. Moments, like bits of data, that collectively guide my intuition. And yet, we’ve all had that…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Rebirth of Belief” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

“We had the discussion around the campfire one night of trying to define ‘what is wilderness’,” John Stoneman remembers. “We determined that if you get hurt or you have a problem and there’s really no way out, you’re in the wilderness.” Despite the fact that 29,000 people raft down the Colorado River every year, the…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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Listen to “Home Front” Dirtbag Diaries Podcast Episode

There’s a story that you may have heard kicked around in the newspapers and nightly news for the last few months. It’s as unsettling as it is tragic. The rate of suicide among active military personnel, reservists, and veterans has increased to nearly 22 suicides a day. 22 every day, even as more resources are…

The Dirtbag Diaries
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