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Off the Beaten Path Exploring Idaho's unknown.

"Off the Beaten Path" airs March 4th and 14th at 8pm on Idaho Public Television

By Lauren Melink, Idaho Public Television

What does a life look like without parties and concerts and sports and weddings and funerals and book clubs and brunch?

At Outdoor Idaho the answer is clear.

It looks an awful lot like nature. The trees and the trails, the birds and the breeze, the rivers and lakes and mountains and plains that remained the same, despite the fists of fear and chaos holding the world in their grip.

We’re lucky at Outdoor Idaho; that our work allows for time spent outside. Often alone or in small groups, at a distance, and masked-up.

Our March 2021 show is the result of this year. For “Off the Beaten Path,” we spent a year gathering stories from far-flung corners of the state, unvisited and often forgotten locations, to show what nature has to offer in its least explored spots.

Being lonely is different from being alone. While the past year or so has been lonely for many, this show reminds us that there’s joy to be found in aloneness. Peace to be found in a quiet grove of tall trees or on the bank of a remote river.

To provide another perspective, we asked psychologist Jean McCabe to explain how that’s even possible.

“You can be with someone whose company you don't enjoy and be lonely, or you can be alone and be very comfortable with your surroundings and feel wonderful. Nature seems to do that for us. You become aware of all the life, the bird sounds and things that are growing and you can smell them and feel them.”

“As you are trying new things and getting outdoors, it does again, change some of that rewiring in the brain and every time we learn something new or try something new, there's kind of a rewiring, so to speak. And that again, boosts our confidence, boost our creativity and that strengthens that muscle,” McCabe said.

We wanted this episode of Outdoor Idaho to be a piece of beauty and comfort, a breath of fresh air. A welcome relief from the barrage of frightening information we’ve had to consume, comprehend and regurgitate over the past 15 months. A step outside for those trapped indoors.

And that’s what this show is, a delightful tour around the state in which we explore the unexplored with the people who understand the unexplored more than most.

We began our journey with a trip down the Bruneau River in Southwest Idaho. Spring rafting makes for rainy rafting – but also awe-inspiring sunsets. After drying off we moved to the Curlew National Grassland where bird calls pieced the air like a fireworks show. Then to the canola fields of central Idaho, the winding South Fork of east Idaho, a granite spire in north Idaho. We visited a serene lake bay, a frozen mountain top, trees that reach into the clouds, a canyon with Caribbean-blue water, a rock garden and picture-perfect alpine lakes.

This show is not only a showcase of the hidden gems Idaho has to offer, but also proof that venturing into the unknown, isn’t always scary and it’s not always hard.

Sometimes it’s just plain fun.

Tune in March 4th at 8pm on Idaho Public Television.