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Backpacker Radio

Dec 11, 2023

In today’s episode of Backpacker Radio presented by The Trek, we are joined by Ryan Sylva, known on trail as Dirtmonger. Let me tell you, this one is an instant classic. Dirtmonger has so many miles under his trail runners that he’s lost count, but it’s comfortably deep into the 5-digit range. We learn about all the trails and routes Dirtmonger has tackled, including the PCT, CDT, Vagabond Loop, Low to High Route, the Great Basin Traverse, Sky Island Traverse, and more. But in addition to and likely more importantly, we go deep into the inspiration and philosophy behind Dirtmonger’s backpacking career, which sheds some really interesting new perspectives into this wild world of long-distance walking. This one will eventually be a two-parter, and we’re supremely confident that you’ll enjoy this first edition.

We wrap the show by learning about the marathon for cake on the AT in Virginia, where we're hiding our FBI's most wanted paperclip, and I get another vote of confidence in my highly anticipated rumble with an alien.

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Interview with Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva

Watch this interview on YouTube!

Time stamps & Questions

00:06:20 - Reminders: Get exclusive content on Patreon, submit your poop story, and subscribe to Backpacker Radio on YouTube!

00:12:30 - Introducing Dirtmonger

00:17:00 - What does Shitmonger mean?

00:20:55 - Dirtmonger’s poop stories

00:29:11 - The ghost poop

00:31:28 - What is your hiking origin story?

00:45:40 - How did your family struggle with you being a backpacker?

00:49:30 - What advice do you have for thru-hikers struggling to complete a trail?

00:53:54 - Discussion about intentions

00:56:12 - Did you ever contemplate giving up on the dream?

01:02:15 - Do you experience any diminishing returns with your hikes?

01:06:03 - Where did you get the first sense of chasing a nontraditional challenge?

01:11:13 - How do you feel about other people following in your footsteps?

01:16:45 - How do you finance your hikes?

01:19:15 - What guidance do you have for turning a seasonal job into a career?

01:26:30 - Have you considered trying to monetize your hiking?

01:36:46 - Tell us about the Vagabond Loop

01:42:40 - What is the attraction of social hiking?

01:48:20 - Do you experience loneliness on trail?

01:51:25 - What are you afraid of?

01:55:15 - Tell us about the Great Basin Traverse

02:02:00 - How many hours of prep do you think you did?

02:06:42 - How do you handle finding water sources in the desert?

02:13:10 - Do you have a story about getting to a water source that didn’t work out?

02:15:35 - Do you find yourself taking chances for the thrill of problem solving?

02:19:00 - What was your biggest fuckup while hiking?

02:25:30 - Have you had any regrets?

02:28:05 - What’s your typical mileage and pace?

02:31:40 - What’s in your backpack?

02:41:15 - Tell us about the Sky Island Traverse

02:45:00 - What else did you do in 2016?

02:53:40 - What do you want listeners to take away from this interview?

02:57:54 - What are your tips for people new to backpacking?


Trek Propaganda: What Virginia Blues? 10 Can’t-Miss Landmarks in VA by Jamie Angle

QOTD: You have 20 minutes to hide a paper clip before the FBI comes to your house to look for it - where are you hiding it? You must be able to retrieve it after they leave.

Triple Crown of holiday movies

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