On The Loose Inspirations: Homage to the Dirtbag Diaries

I am an unabashed fanboy of the Dirtbag Diaries.

In 2007 I was a recent Colorado transplant. I had a sweet job taking students out on week-long camping trips, a beautiful girlfriend who had moved with me across the country and weekends filled with rock climbing and mountaineering.

But in between the trips, the adventures and falling in love, there was a lot of time spent in the office in front of a computer. Most of my days were filled with surfing National and State Park websites, calling park rangers for beta or permits. However, I will admit to spending some time surfing the web for “personal inspiration”.

So it was that, in March of 2007, I stumbled upon a post on Patagonia’s new-ish blog: The Cleanest Line telling us about a brand new podcast from this writer guy, Fitz Cahall. There were two episodes listed. I downloaded them onto my 2nd Gen Ipod and we listened to both The Monoboard and The Brotherhood. We were immediately drawn  to Fitz’s storytelling. He (and now his team that includes his wife, Becca and a cadre of  incredible storytellers) has a gift for digging up and presenting the stories of our community in a way that preserves the authenticity of the experience. You won’t find flashy buzzwords or artificial dramaticism in their stories. You will find real stories, told by real people, right from the heart of the experience.

Over the past ten years we have downloaded and listened to the entirety of the Dirtbag Diaries. Episodes have elicited laughter, tears, even sparked arguments (thanks a lot Adventurer’s Parable).

Last year, a particularly poignant episode dropped. When Paul’s Boots aired I  felt an immediate connection between M’Lynn’s story and my family’s struggle to make sense of life after the death of my two brothers. It was a moment of sartori. I had to help in any way possible. I sent an email.

Because of that email I found myself deep in the Vermont woods last August, receiving Paul’s boots from Tick Tock, an AT thru-hiker and all-around great guy. Paul and I hiked almost 100 miles together through my old home state. Along the way I got to meet and befriend the guy behind the mic, reflect on the healing power of joyful experiences and play a small part in helping M’Lynn and Paul realize a dream. It was awesome.

We have covered so many miles with the Dirtbag Diaries. They have taken us from our years as wild at heart, throw caution to the wind youngsters to the present day. Now, the job takes place in the classroom rather than the wild. The beautiful girlfriend became my wife and we have two amazing children we are raising to be the next wild at heart, throw caution to the wind youngsters. Weekends are still filled with rock climbing and mountaineering (though we tend more towards sport climbing rather than alpine climbs and mountain paths rather than ice and snow routes these days).  We still get psyched when the latest episode pops up in the feed and we look forward to the weekend’s drive when we can listen to it together.

So, if you haven’t yet heard of the Dirtbag Diaries, stop everything, download it from your favorite podcast source and play it on your next drive out to wherever your next adventure is taking you. Or play it on your drive to work. Or put it on the next time you are folding clothes or diapers after the kids go to bed.

You. Will. Be. Inspired.

See you out there,

Jim

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