S01|E05: Stake Your Claim

There used to be a time when you could strike out into the vast unexplored wilderness and stake your claim – but not anymore.  Today, the story of one seaside town where one homeowner is facing a brutal property dispute against an undefeatable opponent: the Atlantic Ocean.  
Plus, a group of 19th century pioneers lay claim to one of the world’s most inhospitable mountains and turn it into a premiere tourist destination. 
And, Sam goes on a hunt for Earth’s last unexplored places, so he can plant a flag and stake his claim.

Listen to the full episode:

aerial view of nahant, ma

Fortify, Accommodate, Relocate

Nahant, Massachusetts is a rocky crescent moon of land out in the Atlantic Ocean just north of Boston. It has a long history of being at the mercy of the ocean, and the people who live there are looking at an uncertain future. The seas are rising, and no one can say how long many homes by the water will be safe. 

Take a tour of Nahant and read about the challenges the town faces as the seas rise.

Photos by Lucian Perkins

The Hotels of Mt. Washington

Mount Washington is famously home of "The World's Worst Weather", but it also hosts a huge amount of tourist infrastructure. 

Senior producer Taylor Quimby brings us this tale of how the mountain was conquered, and how that process became the template for mountain tourism nation-wide. 

Voices From Mount Washington

As part of our research for this story, we went to the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord to check out the Summit House Guest Register from 1854 - an incredible document where early tourists would sign their names and often leave short poems or comments about their stay on Mt. Washington.  What’s really fascinating is the diversity of reactions and writing styles contained in the guest register - everything from dreary verse about bad weather, to religious expressions of praise for the mountain, and the view. We mocked up some playful recordings of the more colorful entries.

Here’s an excerpt from one by Mary Huntington, who visited the summit on July 17th, 1854.  We think it sounds a little bit like a slam poem:

These photos are of the 1854 Mt. Washington Summit House Guest Registry, which is housed at the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord, NH.

These photos are of the 1854 Mt. Washington Summit House Guest Registry, which is housed at the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord, NH.

Space! Thous art pure and boundless expanse

For golden globes to make their mountains in;

Room, where all bodies mentioned may begin;

Where planets wheel along in mary [sic] dance

And comets voyage on in wild careers


Here is another from August 20th of the same year. We’re not sure about the author on this one, but it sounds a little bit like an Edgar Allen Poe poem, or maybe a drinking song:


For Four long hours we toiled our way

The setting sun to see

Sulky and glum the event to be

Sulky and glum went we.


We built our cairn then slept our way

Until the night should flee

Sulky and glum he rose again

Sulky and glum rose we.

These photos are of the 1854 Mt. Washington Summit House Guest Registry, which is housed at the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord, NH.

These photos are of the 1854 Mt. Washington Summit House Guest Registry, which is housed at the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord, NH.

On August 15th, 1854, a man from Philadelphia named W.N. Conckle penned a frightening account of his near-death experience on the summit, as he climbed through a terrific August storm.  Here’s just a bit:

Three quarters of the way up I was compelled to lay behind some rocks to [illegible] from the penetrating, impetuous whirlwind. A shower of rain now succeeded & [illegible] with the increasing darkness gave birth to a thought of death which death would only alleviate. Still I ascended slowly & despondently and my agitated thoughts would rage within me equally as impetuous as the storming whirlwind around me. A terrific gale now climaxed the increasing wildness of the storm. The wind roared and sang my dirge among the angry looking rocks around my very feet. The fog was my funeral pall and the slanting cutting rain was my shroud, and my mourners were deep [illegible] among the mountain glens. I yet remained to die.

And finally, excerpts from two entries that appear back to back in the register - one a glowing appraisal of them mountain’s breathtaking scale, and another somewhat less enthusiastic review:

August 27, 1854

Mount Washington; A specimen of the magnificence of God’s works. It is an impressive symbol of the unchangeable power and glory of the Creator… To come here just to say that you have been to the top of Mt. Washington shows a vain and frivolous mind.


September 6, 1854

Be Japers I’d as soon sleep in a swamp! And when one gits up at morning’ his clothes hang about ‘im like a woman’s gown with no skirts. Och, bad luck to it! If iver I am the bottom again, may the divil shweep me if I climb these rocks another time!

The Weather on top of Mount Washington is still pretty epic as evidenced by this video taken at the top on May 16th, 2016. 

Weather Observers Mike Dorfman and Tom Padham took a brief break this morning to enjoy the windy and wintry conditions on the observation deck. Winds so far have topped out at 109 mph, with gusts near the century mark expected through this afternoon.

Despite planting a flag there, our laws say the moon isn't American.

Despite planting a flag there, our laws say the moon isn't American.

Is Staking a Claim Still Possible?

The world is pretty full up...which got us to wondering: is there anyplace left on earth, or beyond, where you can just claim something as your own?

The answer is yes... but once you hear how, you might not be so excited to give it a try.

Outside/In was produced this week by: 

Sam Evans-Brown, Maureen McMurray, Taylor Quimby, Logan Shannon & Molly Donahue

Theme music by Breakmaster Cylinder

Photos of Sam are by Greta Rybus unless otherwise noted.

S01|E04: Living Fossils

Technology advances at breakneck speed, so why hasn’t the electric grid changed in 60 years? This week’s episode explores  things, that for one reason or another, haven’t changed in a very, very long time. Like the ginkgo tree, which has remained strong--and smelly--for over 250 million years.

Listen to the full episode: 

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Something very different is going on up in Boothbay, Maine. It was an experiment which – if it works – could represent a fundamental shift in the way we think about using electricity.

Ginkgo Fruit.jpg

Ginkgo Stink

Ginkgo Biloba is a beautiful tree with an incredible history that dates back millions of years – it’s also a popular street tree among urban foresters. So why are some cities clamoring to have all their ginkgoes cut down, while others are planting them in the thousands? The answer has to do with your dirty gym socks, 19th century London smog, and maybe, the curious appetites of long-dead dinosaurs.


A video tour of Bob Shanahan's creations

Pre-historic Megafauna

Since 2003, Bob Shanahan has been painstakingly recreating the megafauna that used to roam the Northeast, to scale. He uses wood and wire frames to create the bodies of the animal, then he collects local plants and other natural items to give them fur, claws, and teeth.

Outside/In was produced this week by: 

Sam Evans-Brown, Maureen McMurray, Taylor Quimby, Logan Shannon & Molly Donahue

Theme music by Breakmaster Cylinder

Photos of Sam are by Greta Rybus unless otherwise noted.

S01|E03: Nurture vs. Nature

Tyler Armstrong is 12-years-old. He loves video games, laser tag, and he wants to become the youngest person to summit Mount Everest. In this episode, Outside/In poses an ethical question: how young is too young to climb Mount Everest? Plus, what to expect when you're expecting a child...and a gold medal at the Nordic World Ski Championships. And a father wages a 17-year-long battle against the Department of Environmental Services over a dock. 

Listen to the full episode:

Photo Credit: Phobus via flickr

Photo Credit: Phobus via flickr

The Young Man of the Mountain

What did you want to do when you were 12? Play video games? Hang out with your friends at the mall? Go swimming in a lake? Tyler Armstrong is 12 and he want to earn the title of youngest person to climb Mt. Everest.

Bye bye toes, see you in a few months. Sure hope I remembered to put my skate boots on!

A photo posted by Kikkan Randall (@kikkanimal) on

Training While Pregnant

We’re in the middle of a bit of a shift when it comes to what’s considered a healthy amount of physical activity for women during pregnancy. Doctors say you can keep doing a lot of things you did before you were pregnant, pretty far into term. But culturally, we’re not quite caught up to the latest scientific understanding.

We talked to elite athlete Kikkan Randall about her experience training while she was pregnant. We also spoke to 3-time Olympic medalist Nancy Hogshead-Makar who wrote the guidelines that NCAA schools are supposed to follow on how not to discriminate against pregnant student-athletes.


Pier Pressure

In 1998, Forrest Quimby spent thousands of dollars building one of the most beautiful, elaborate docks on his lake. There was just one problem – it was illegal.

In this story, we hear about Quimby’s seventeen-year battle with the NH Department of Environmental Services, and find out why small-scale environmental regulations are so hard to enforce.

Illustration: Sara Plourde

Illustration: Sara Plourde

Ask Sam

Whether he likes it or not, Sam has become the go-to source for all of our questions, from showing him photos of birds we want him to identify, to plants that look weird, to what kind of wax we should use on our skis. And we're not alone - everyone has questions for Sam. We went to a bar and recorded a few and asked him to answer. 

If you have questions for Sam, leave him a message on the Ask Sam hotline: 603-223-2448

Outside/In was produced this week by: 

Sam Evans-Brown, Maureen McMurray, Taylor Quimby, Logan Shannon & Molly Donahue

Theme music by Breakmaster Cylinder | Additional music by Uncanny Valleys

Photos of Sam are by Greta Rybus unless otherwise noted.

S01|E02: On the Hunt

Ever since becoming a reporter, Sam has heard stories about a secret hunting reserve in New Hampshire, stocked with elk and 200-pound wild boar.  It's the size of a medium-sized town, but most people have never even heard about it, and almost nobody wants to talk about it.

This episode is all about being on the hunt. We've got the secret history behind what one NH lawmaker calls: "the most exclusive game preserve in the United States." Also, an in-depth conversation with a moose-hunting guide, and a look at a terrifying/adorable songbird: the Northern Shrike.

Listen to the full episode:

The USDA traps and kills any wild boar they can find that have escaped.

The Wild Boar of Corbin's Park

To start the show, Sam is going to take us all hunting. Not hunting for animals, but instead, hunting for the secret of what’s behind that 26-mile fence cutting through the woods of New Hampshire, and why some people want it to stay a secret.

We've got photos of Corbin's Park--er...rather its fences--below. 

Question 1: Lobster Traps

Senior Producer Taylor Quimby asks Sam how lobster traps work, and the answer may surprise you. 

Photo Credit: Megan Tan

The Moose Whisperer

Every year, about 2,700 of the roughly 50,000 people who apply, receive a moose permit in Maine. If you're one of the lucky ones who has waited 20 years for this moment, you’re going to want an expert on your team. You’re going to want a moose whisperer.  


Question 2: Deer Hunting Protests

In January, Sam reported on a deer hunt in Massachusetts for NHPR news. The hunt took place in the Blue Hills of Massachusetts, and while there were some groups protesting the hunt, some were absent. Executive Producer Maureen McMurray asks Sam why major conservation groups weren't at this particular hunt.  


Cute Predators: The Tiny Terror

When you think of predators, you probably think of lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!). Massive mammals with claws and teeth made for killing. But some predators are adorable little fluffs of feathers and are just as lethal. Eric Masterson works by day as a Land Specialist for the Harris Center for Conservation Education in Hancock, New Hampshire, where he runs the stewardship program for the organization’s approximately 10,000 acres of conservation easements, assists with new conservation projects, and coordinates their field trip program. 


Question 3: Human Bait?

Catching prey often involves baiting. Producer Logan Shannon poses this question: if humans weren't at the top of the food chain, and there were a predator hunting us, what would they use as bait?

Corbin's Park Photos

Sam visited the periphery of Corbin's Park on numerous occasions and even flew over it. Here are photos from his adventures along with a few historical photos from Brian Meyette's website.


Outside/In was produced this week by: 

Sam Evans-Brown, Maureen McMurray, Taylor Quimby, Logan Shannon, Molly Donahue, and Megan Tan.

Our theme music is by Breakmaster Cylinder. Songified questions were composed by Uncanny Valleys. 

Photos of Sam are by Greta Rybus unless otherwise noted.

Special Thanks to:

David Allaben and Tony Musante from the USDA. Ken Hoff who gave us an airplane ride. Win Watson of UNH who helped Sam answer the lobster trap question by sharing his lobster research.

S01|E01: Let's Take This Outside

How do you define wilderness? Why are humans drawn to summits? Will the cold-hardy kiwi save a struggling local economy, or will it destroy a native eco-system? What is nutria, and why does it taste so good? Meet Outside/In. A brand new radio show and podcast that takes a look at the natural world and how we use it.

Listen to the full episode:

Champagne on the Rocks

This past summer, Scott Jurek set a new record for running the 2,181 miles of the Appalachian Trail. But on his triumphant day atop the last mountain in Northern Maine, his 21st century campaign for the trail's record ran afoul of a park founded on ideas about wilderness from a decidedly earlier time.

Why We Summit

Mariagrazia Portera's post-doctoral research focuses on evolutionary aesthetics, specifically Darwin's aesthetics. Essentially--using anthropology, philosophy, literature, biology,  genetics--she tries to understand why humans appreciate certain things that are not key to our survival. Things like going to the opera, admiring paintings, reading fictional stories, and climbing mountains. We asked her why humans feel compelled to summit mountains.

10x10: Vernal Pools

A little introduction to 10x10: Occasionally, we're going to be looking very closely at certain really cool spots. We're calling these types of segments 10x10, because--hey--we've got to draw the line somewhere. But it could be a 10x10 plot anywhere: in the woods, on a mountain, in the water, in the air. And really, it could be 10 anything by 10 anything: feet, inches, miles, FATHOMS...we're not big on making any hard and fast rules. 

For this first foray out into the woods, we're checking out something called vernal pools. Vernal, meaning springtime, and pools as in...pools. These are little (and sometimes not so little!) pools that form when spring rains combine with winter snow-melt to make some really wet spots. These puddles might look a little gross, especially after they've been sitting there for a few weeks--and are full of all sorts of sliminess--but they are absolutely essential to all sorts of bizarre critters.

Trust us, you'll never listen to the spring peepers the same way again.

The Cold Hardy Kiwi

Iago Hale has a vision: it’s one where the economy of the North Country is revitalized by local farmers selling delicious, cold hardy kiwi berries to the masses. Meanwhile, Tom Lautzenheiser has been battling a hardy kiwi infestation in Massachusetts for years, and is afraid that this fight will soon be coming to the rest of New England.

Should we worry about the cold hardy kiwi and what does the quest to bring it to market tell us about what an invasive species is?

Eat the Invaders!

So, like everything, there’s a lot of grey area in the definition of what’s “invasive”. But there are also plenty of things that are just straight up a problem. 

The American Chestnut--which was a super valuable tree for both lumber and food--was wiped out by an imported blight.

Rabbits introduced to Australia were so prolific that the Aussies were killing 2 million a year without putting a dent in the population.

And, Burmese pythons are currently in the process of feasting on the endangered birds and small mammals of the Florida Everglades.

Which is why we are going to be doing our part, here at Outside in, by eating some invasive species.

We ate Nutria Stew and Periwinkle Fritters and lived to tell the tale. Watch the videos of us making some culinary magic in the kitchen.

If you'd like to try out an invasive dish for your next party, here are the recipes we used.

Plus a couple hot tips: When you order your nutria meat, make sure it's actually boneless and if you're making Periwinkle Fritters for a crowd, ask the crowd to come early to help you pick out the periwinkles. 

You can find many more invasive species recipes at: Eat The Invaders. Happy eating!


Outside/In was produced this week by: 

Sam Evans-Brown

With help from: Maureen McMurray, Taylor Quimby, Logan Shannon, Molly Donahue, and Megan Tan.

Photos of Sam are by Greta Rybus unless otherwise noted.