Jenny and Scott Jurek planned on going to Japan for their honeymoon…eight years ago. But life got in the way, including Jenny’s thriving career as an outdoor gear and apparel designer, Scott’s record-setting Appalachian Trail thru-hike, and the birth of their two children.
In August of 2019, Jenny and Scott shipped their bikes across the world. And with their one and three-year-olds in tow, they left their Boulder, Colorado home to embark on a month-long bike-packing tour across the mountains, beaches and farmlands of Hokkaido, Japan. The family covered 600 miles and camped in a new location every night while carrying all of their own gear.
Tune in to episode 35 of the Out and Back podcast to get all the details about bikepacking in a foreign country with two toddlers. Jenny, who is of Japanese descent, describes the joy the family felt connecting with her ancestors’ homeland. The kids didn’t want to leave! She gets into the shame she experienced growing up with a different sounding last name from her classmates, and how she’s come to cherish her ancestry as an adult.
Jenny describes how she went from working in finance to landing her dream job as a designer for Patagonia. She keeps it real with her and Scott’s challenges of getting pregnant, including two miscarriages; how the AT injected new life into their relationship despite her sometimes harrowing task of driving around the east coast backroads by herself to support Scott on his run; and the struggle of balancing two young children with starting her own business.
Keep on eye out for Jenny’s new business, Always Up. (We’ll link to it once the website goes live!) It’s a gear company for active families, and her debut product is a first-of-its-class maternity belt for runners. Get some visuals from the Jurek’s Japan trip by watching a short film Jenny and Scott made about their family trip. Follow Jenny on Instagram for an inside view into Jenny and the family’s busy and beautiful life.
Last episode: Map points to a Marriage Proposal
If you’re craving a feel-good story, go back to the last episode of Out and Back. Phoebe Novitsky knew there was something special about Ian Silberman from the first time they met at the dingy basement office of SOS Outreach in Denver, Colorado. The stars never quite aligned for these two expeditionary learning educators. Years later, Phoebe finally mustered the gumption to put her feelings out there. She sent Ian a text. He didn’t respond.
Turns out, Ian was gearing up to lead a 17-day backpacking adventure for this students. It was a rough trip. After Ian evacuated one student with a stomach bug, he noticed that text from Phoebe. The two struck up a text conversation that continued on for the rest of Ian’s trip, their words shrinking the many miles of wilderness separating them. They never looked back.
From taking a wrong turn on Colorado’s Grizzly Peak to bonking on an epic gravel ride, Ian and Phoebe quickly got to know each other through their trials and triumphs outside. And they developed an unbreakable bond in the process. While it may not be about the destination, the landscape played a crucial role in forging Phoebe and Ian’s connection. The couple especially share a love of Buena Vista, Colorado and the surrounding Sawatch Mountains. Ian knew he wanted to incorporate geography into the proposal. He ended up taking it to the next level. Tune in to the episode to hear all about his ingenious plan.
So grab a box of tissues and sink into this heartwarming story of how maps (and particular Gaia GPS) helped Phoebe and Ian take a trip through time and space to put a ring on their relationship.
Follow along with Phoebe and Ian on Instagram. Learn how you can make your own memories in the map by using our new feature, emoji waypoints.
Next episode: Life with Fire
If you live on the west coast, you’ve already woken up to bright red suns and thick, smokey skies this summer. Fire season has arrived. We’ve grown accustomed to seeing fire-ravaged towns on TV. Yet wildfires are actually not all bad. We’ve just exacerbated their scope, and in fact we are the ones who get in the way.
On the next episode of Out and Back, Wildfire Public Information Officer and former wildland firefighter Amanda Monthei breaks down why wildfires remain vital for ecosystem health, and how humans misunderstand this life force. She gets into the history of wildfire management in the US and how we’ve primed conditions for fires of unprecedented scope. Amanda dives into what we can learn from indigenous fire management practices, and how we can learn to better coexist with fire in the future.
Amanda also shares how she grew so infatuated with fire, leading her to work grueling summers as a wildland firefighter and then in the coveted role of a hotshot crew member. She unearths why she left that vocation, and how she’s turned her attention to educating the public about how to coexist with fire, rather than fight it.
Follow Amanda on Instagram, and check out her brilliant podcast on all things fire, Life with Fire.