59 episodes

On Trail, Off Trail, They are all one thing. We focus on the who and the how, not necessarily the what. To live a life on trail, you must first manage your life off trail. Whether that is backpacking, climbing, ultra-running, if you are a part of the outdoors community, you have to make your "off trail" time work, to be able to spend time "on trail." We take a look inside the lives of those that continue to pursue their dreams on trail by first taking the time to manage their "off-trail."

Email us at: offtrailpodcast@gmail.com

Off Trail Ryan Bunting

    • Sports

On Trail, Off Trail, They are all one thing. We focus on the who and the how, not necessarily the what. To live a life on trail, you must first manage your life off trail. Whether that is backpacking, climbing, ultra-running, if you are a part of the outdoors community, you have to make your "off trail" time work, to be able to spend time "on trail." We take a look inside the lives of those that continue to pursue their dreams on trail by first taking the time to manage their "off-trail."

Email us at: offtrailpodcast@gmail.com

    What is a Pilgrimage?

    What is a Pilgrimage?

    “Maybe they just come for the fountain of wine…”

    Welcome back to the Off Trail Podcast and another wonderful informational episode with Christine Thuermer.

    Today we chat all things Pilgrimage Trails.

    We start off the show with finally pronouncing our guests name correctly and then diving into the intricacies of why all Americans hike the Camino De Santiago.

    We begin by going back in history as Christine walks us all through the start of pilgrimage trails. We begin in the medieval times and learn about Catholicism, veneration of saints, collecting relics and being cleansed of all your sins.

    We discuss how going on a pilgrimage used to be a punishment and the term “indulgence” in reference to a pilgrimage.

    We chat less time burning in purgatory, holy years, scenery not being a concern, and how the word hike and pilgrimage are not the same.

    We chat multiple “caminos” and the broad scope of these trails, we chat spiritual vs religious quests, and we chat convenience and big business.

    We chat the new age lifestyle on a pilgrimage trail. We chat hostels, friends, wine, crowds, and easy walking. We chat about connection to “God”, wild camping, legal drinking ages, and pilgrimage passports.

    We chat the history in each step, the spiritual significance and the special atmosphere on a pilgrimage trail.

    We discuss the popularity of creating new pilgrimage trails and how it has become a “blanket” term for many hikes in Europe. We chat the infrastructure, accessibility, and the reasons behind the creation and the user perspective.

    Christine then turns the tables on us and asks us a question we still have yet to answer: “Why are there no pilgrimage trails in the United States?”

    Disclaimer: We use our own opinion and reasoning to try and chew through this question, answering the why that we think, not necessarily the “actual why.”

    A great question to wrap up the show that leaves us wondering…

    To sum it up, if you want to go on a “thru-hike” a pilgrimage trail may not be for you. Sure the baseline activity of “hiking” is the same, but almost everything else is different.

    Thank you Christine for another wonderful and informational episode!
    To learn more about Christine go to: Instagram @Christine_Thuermer
    To learn more about who we are click below:
    Website: www.ElevenSkys.com

    • 1 hr 13 min
    Who is Masochist?

    Who is Masochist?

    “When on a long trail there is no finishing, I am just existing.”

    Welcome back to the Off Trail Podcast!

    Today we sit down with Masochist, also known as Matthew, to learn more about his deep dive into this life of adventure.

    We begin with a little backstory learning of his career in IT which began only 2 weeks out of high school. Flash forward to his 39th year around the sun and he was ready for a change.

    We chat the impetus for the change, a mixture of loved ones passing away, the support of a wonderful partner, and the appreciation for learning you just never know how much time you have.

    We chat the difficulties of balance when consumed with passion, a very irregular existence in general, and having more plans than available time.

    We chat travel fatigue, cravings of stability, and the treat of “nothingness.” We chat becoming antsy, campground conundrums, and volunteering with the Sierra Club.

    We discuss shorter distance trails losing some of their shine, surviving without zero days, and the feeling of just existing. It’s less about mileage he says and more about just the time on a trail.

    We then jump into the Condor Trail. We learn of the bushwhacks, the lack of consideration for resupplies, and preparing oneself for the indignities of “actual trail.”

    We chat the why. We chat goal oriented mentality and going from point A to B. We then take a look into the PCT in 2020 and the flavor of the first long trail in the year that shall not be spoken.

    We chat normalcy in the abnormal, a “private tour” of the PCT, and exposure in town being minimal. We chat planning a long hike while actively finishing a long hike, aiming higher, and learning of the ECT’s existence.

    We then chat all things Eastern Continental Trail. We chat homeless encampments, being told by a person it was “my bush,” and $300 for one of the worst hotel stays ever. We chat magic, consistency, and the meat grinder that is called pavement. We chat mentality around 5,000 miles, the Florida Keys, and how to avoid the scariest wildlife of all; aggressive dogs.

    We chat moose hunting, caribou mating, pit bulls, something called Meat Cove, a untouchable lighthouse, and a “snarl torpedo.”

    We then get into the heavy segment of emotions. We chat Matt’s choice that was not a choice to get of his CDT hike earlier this year. We chat altitude cough turned into a serious case of COVID. We chat being bedridden, feverish, and physically depleted. We chat being used to being in pain but the threshold that exists between “push mentality” and when it becomes unsafe.

    We chat bargaining, acceptance, and planning for the future. We chat deeper questions of existence and doing everything one can to continue.

    Truly a wonderful chat with Matthew, thank you for sharing with us all your journey!


    “[Thru-hiking] gives you appreciation for how hard it is just to exist when you don’t have a place to go home to.”

    “Long trails tend to be addicting to some of us…”

    “Even bedridden I was already making plans.”

    “I can push through anything, I can keep going.”

    To learn more about Masochist go to:

    YouTube: @FirstChurchofTheMasochistHikes

    Instagram: @mattonamtn

    To learn more about who we are click below:
    Website: www.ElevenSkys.com

    • 1 hr 14 min
    What is Butterflies?

    What is Butterflies?

    “If you add deli mustard and yellow mustard you get a bomb sandwich… If you subtract deli mustard from a yellow mustard you get a weird hot dog.”

    Welcome back to Off Trail Podcast!

    This week we sit down with co-hosts Constantine and Magpie to chat all things “butterflies.”

    How do butterflies apply to anything hiking related? Well, just like a caterpillar that goes into its cocoon to blossom a colorful and wonderful butterfly, we to as hikers go through a transformational stage. Huh… we actually meant the above as a joke, but re-reading our edit, it weirdly makes sense?

    Anyway, welcome to the show! We begin the show with what you all demand, an energy drink review. This week we taste test “Guru” and well let us tell you just like hiking it transports you to a wonderful mountain top of flavor. Take in that deep breath and find your inner wise old sage, take a sip of Guru and who knows you may just become one…

    We then chat about worlds of pain and goblets of grief, about belly pillows and the mysterious “upper bellular region.” We chat about shoving and burying emotions, streams of consciousness, and Constantine’s inner “basic white gurl.”

    We chat coping mechanisms, Magpie makes a cringy math joke, and we compare the pre-trail jitters or “butterflies” to the first day of a new school. We chat pumpkin spice lattes, the emotional state inside of perpetual motion, and reflect on “wasted time.”

    We chat mustard equations, goals narrowed and the relief it can bring, and the power in the palm of your hand. We chat getting out of trail shape, excruciating knee pain, and the “David Goggins mentality.”

    We chat neck pillows, first step peace of mind, and passports being flagged. We chat about excitement vs. all consuming emotion. We chat what happens if you lose the pre trail jitters and if it means you no longer care. We chat edges and the bluntness. We chat ratios and express feelings (that we should have clutched and buried).

    We chat when hiking becomes life, when looking at a dream glossing over the realities inside of it, and criticizing someone for owning both an umbrella and a shower. It’s not the being wet, it’s the choice.

    We chat active choice of white picket fences, we chat treading proverbial water, and we chat how comfort can be a weakness but also a strength.

    We try our very best to tangent and joke away our feelings, yet it seems that some do come through. The butterflies experienced here allow us to understand what hiking is and has become to us.

    Lastly we chat rationalizing choices and what happens when you consume a tube of cookie dough per day. After all it is less calories than baking said cookie, alright time to eat a:

    “A regular cookie, cookie dough, cookie.”

    To learn more about who we are click below:
    Website: www.ElevenSkys.com

    • 1 hr 5 min
    What is European Hiking?

    What is European Hiking?

    European Vs. US Thru Hiking, what’s the same, what’s different?

    “They are actually paid in cheese.”

    Welcome back to the Off Trail Podcast! Don’t let the first line fool you, we talk much more in depth about the intricacies of hiking in Europe and the US… but of course we do spend the obligatory time touching on cheese.

    Welcome back Christine Thuermer! After our first chat with her, she had a wonderful idea as she has hiked so many miles both overseas and in the US, that it could be a wonderful informational source to unpack the concept of hiking.

    We begin by setting a baseline of the difference between US and European hiking. It comes down to “wilderness vs culture.” Of course while in the US you can experience many cultures while hiking, but the vast majority of your day is spent in the wild, hiking. In Europe the conduit of course is still hiking but the experience becomes drastically different. You walk through history, walk through towns, walk through almost daily food, lodging, and “front country” exposure.

    We chat the E1-E11 trail systems of Europe, we chat the Camino, we chat standards of US hiking such as the AT or PCT and how there is no “standard” of European hiking.

    We then dive into logistics. Crossing borders, language barriers, and the amazing power of Google translate. We discuss SIM cards, governmental management, politeness, and avoiding stepping on “cultural toes.”

    We then compare and contrast resupply strategies. How to carry food, when to carry food, and most importantly why you should not carry *alot* of food in Europe. We discuss cemeteries, water sources, and churches. Of course we ask about ramen, and get a wonderful answer.

    Next up, camping. We discuss the concept of most “free camping” in Europe being forbidden, but how this is more of a general guideline then iron rule. We chat hunters, dog walkers, and forestry personal. We chat easements, public roads, and trails.

    We chat asking for help, knocking on doors, and no trail angels. We chat budget, $1 wine bottles, sugar taxes, and the vast difference from country to country. We chat how there is a place and trail for every budget it is just about picking it. We chat 1 brewery for every 5,000 people, self service wine coolers, and food, food, and more food.

    We chat Waymarktrails.org a wealth of information for European hikers and what OSM maps or Open Street Maps are utilized for. We chat the concept of “hiking” is part of day to day life vs an exclusive trip. We chat credit card hiking (hint: not what you think it means) and how running out a trail in Europe is possible… but not the point.

    Experience the culture, experience the food, experience a trail and a hike European style!

    Thank you Christine for sharing the information with us!

    Favorite Quotes:

    “If caught more likely to be invited for breakfast than chased away.”

    “Don’t think a lot of what goes into the ground water in cemeteries.”

    “The louder we speak the more Google will understand it.”

    “What makes it so special is the culture, take time to immerse yourself in that.”
    To learn about Christine go to: Instagram: @Christine_Thuermer
    To learn more about who we are click below:
    Website: www.ElevenSkys.com

    • 1 hr 8 min
    What is the North Country Trail?

    What is the North Country Trail?

    Some people call it a rental kitchen, some people call it a professional studio”

    Today we sit back down with co-hosts Constantine and Magpie to talk all things North Country Trail.

    We began the show with what you all demand, an energy drink review! We chat airing it like a fine wine, spaghetti growing on trees, and baby birding previously chewed Hi-Chew candy.

    After a quick gross out portion, we dive deep into the North Country Trail. We find out that only NCT anniversaries count, that with a distance of 4833~ miles and growing you could walk across the country and half way back in the same length, and all friendly things about the state of Ohio.

    We break down the NCT by each state, starting with Vermont. Quickly jumping into New York, and then rolling into Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the beauty of North Dakota.

    We chat Ohio dogs and pepper spray, loving enough to avoid pain, and tracking miles. We chat fluctuation of miles, growing trail, and trail chapters. We chat sticking to the official route for the FKT and how exponentially hard it made this hike.

    We chat Finger Lakes, fighting winter, and long food carries. We chat weird days, anything and any animal chunky bringing unbridled joy, and horror film hotel lobby’s in Michigan.

    We chat the Manistee Forest and the sigh of relief to free camp again. We shout out Munch and SOS and cutting the NCT in half. We chat Mackinaw Bridge logistics, hey dare ho dare doughnuts, and doldrums.

    We dive deep into what we called the “Duluth Doldrums” and unpack a story never told before. The feelings behind facing a growing trail already 3,400~ miles in and facing an “impossible” time frame to finish. We chat breaking points mentally and physically and finding energy when there wasn’t any left to give. We chat being at the lowest we have ever been before on any hike.

    We chat the Superior Hiking Trail, Boundary Waters, and the Chippewa National Forest freezing rain rollercoaster. We chat all things beautiful in North Dakota, sheriff puppies, meteor showers, and licking a roast beef sandwich.

    We chat feelings, emotions, and giving oneself time to think and process what an amazing journey of mental and physical tests that is the North Country Trail.

    Favorite Quotes:

    “I purchased it with my own money… so yea… I’m sponsored… I just sponsored the company.”

    “Ask me what I had for breakfast nothing. Ask me to repaint a Chunky Pug… Picasso!”

    “What if and how”

    To learn more about who we are click below:
    Website: www.ElevenSkys.com

    • 1 hr 14 min
    Who is Renee and Tim (ThruHikers)?

    Who is Renee and Tim (ThruHikers)?

    “We get along a lot better in the canoe if I’m not carrying a fishing pole.”

    Welcome Renee and Tim!

    Today we sit down to chat with Renee and Tim, also known as ThruHikers…well you guessed it, all things thru-hiking!

    We begin the show by taking a proverbial dip into the backstory of being from the Midwest and growing up seeking adventure. We wish it could be a “literal dip” into the Midwest waters, because it seems the more and more folks we talk to, the more and more we hear of athletes, explorers, record setters, intense steppers coming from the Midwest! Has to be something in the water.

    We chat their first thru hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2018, and then the travel to Germany for work, and the exploration of trails in their new home.

    We chat their growth of a hiking app as a hobby to gather better maps and information and the trajectory it currently is on.

    We chat their 2021 CDT thru hike and stumbling upon a new outlet on trail, social media. We chat follower count, monetizing, and the constant equation of addition vs subtraction of social media while hiking. We chat the thought that goes into each post, nightly chores, and falling asleep writing blog posts. We chat fuel from toxicity, overall joy, and social media as a connection to community on lesser known trails. We have nothing but kudos to say as Renee and Tim seem to have an incredibly healthy mindset.

    We then dive deep into their completion of the Pacific Northwest Circuit. A route they created starting at the terminus of the PNT, walking into the GDT, connector route, and then paddling the Columbia River to the ocean. We chat map saying 2700 miles and ground truthed 2850~ miles all in.

    We chat hiking the wrong direction, clinging to a tree, snow being the greatest humble check, and even knowing it’s the right decision and the safe decision the feelings that ensue.

    We chat connected steps, border conundrums, harder trails, and time stressors. We chat somebody drawing a line on a map and that line not existing. We chat transitioning to a canoe, miles per day by water, and different habits canoeing vs hiking.

    We chat physicality and mentality differences, flowing water, and new levels of proximity in a canoe. We chat snacks, time vs distance, and chores. We chat daylight, resupplies, and enjoying one’s life.

    Truly a wonderful chat with Renee and Tim, thank you for sharing some of your story with us!

    Favorite Quotes:

    “You have to do something with your life, why not do something you are enjoying.”

    “What is a fun way to share it?”

    “That line sure looked like a trail…”

    Follow them:

    Instagram, TikTok, YouTube: @thruhikers
    Website: ThruHikers.co

    To learn more about who we are click below:
    Website: www.ElevenSkys.com

    • 1 hr 6 min

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