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Backpacker Radio #161 | Diane “Sticks” Harsha: FBI Special Agent, AT Section Hiker, and Author


In today’s episode of Backpacker Radio presented by The Trek, we are joined by Diane “Sticks” Harsha. Diane is an AT section hiker, the author of “Sticks and Stones: How to Hike the Appalachian Trail in 13 Years”, and a retired FBI agent. We of course spend a lot of time talking about Diane’s career in the bureau- including questions about the rigorous training and testing required to be accepted into the FBI, negotiation tactics that could be applied to convincing a spouse to let you leave for an extended backpacking trip, carrying a weapon on trail, and the overlap between working in the FBI and backpacking the AT at large. And yes of course we sneak in a couple of X-Files questions.

We wrap the show with a triple crown of celebrities we’d most want to party with, a story about Chaunce farting her way through a work Zoom meeting, and Badger announces his next backpacking trip.

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Interview with Diane “Sticks” Harsha

Time stamps & Questions

00:02:55 – QOTD: What’s the most embarrassing moment you have from a virtual meeting?

00:15:42 – QOTD 2: What’s the thing you’re most excited about?

00:20:02 – Reminders: Shoutout to our new Chuck Norris members!

00:21:40 – Introducing Diane

00:22:27 – How did you get into the FBI?

00:25:12 – What was the fitness test you took?

00:26:47 – Is Chaunce fit enough to join the FBI?

00:31:00 – Discussion about age norms.

00:33:11 – Tell us more about FBI training.

00:37:55 – Discussion about the accuracy of polygraph tests.

00:39:42 – Were you on any wild cases you can tell us about?

00:44:40 – Do you feel like you were treated differently as a woman agent?

00:46:53 – Since it’s illegal to make false statements to federal agents, could we go to prison for lying to you?

00:48:34 – What negotiation skills would you recommend for convincing your partner to let you do a thru-hike?

00:51:03 – Tell us more about active listening.

00:53:40 – Did you ever use these communication strategies while hiking?

00:56:44 – What other skills crossed over between being an FBI agent and hiking?

00:59:07 – Did you experience fear before starting the trail?

01:00:30 – Did you hike with a gun?

01:03:10 – If you had to pick one state on the AT to carry your gun through, which would it be?

01:06:40 – Was your husband more worried about your career or about your hiking?

01:08:31 – What were your single most dangerous moments in the FBI and on the trail?

01:14:03 – What other things did you bring to trail from your career?

01:18:50 – Did the trail ever grant you any insights related to your work or a case?

01:21:24 – Is there an emotional lull after completing each case?

01:24:10 – Did you ever have a case that could have been an episode of X-Files?

01:25:30 – What are things that movies and shows always get wrong?

01:28:12 – What are the advantages to section hiking the AT over many years instead of all at once?

01:31:35 – Tell us about how you planned the sections.

01:38:14 – Give us your trail name origin story.

01:42:20 – When did you get the inspiration to write the book?

01:46:08 – What can a reader expect when they pick up the book?

01:48:50 – Where can people find the book?

SEGMENTS

MG Check-In

Trek Propaganda

Triple Crown of non-A or B-list celebrities you’d love to party with

Listener Voicemail

5 Star Review

Check out our sound guy @Paulybooyshallcross.

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A super big thank you to our Chuck Norris Award winner(s) from Patreon: Andrew, Austen McDaniel, Jason Lawrence, Christopher Marshburn, Sawyer Products, Brad and Blair (Thirteen Adventures), Patrick Cianciolo, Paul Packman Sealy, Matt Soukup, Jason Snailer, Greg Mac,  Tracy “Trigger” Fawns, Mike Poisel, and Kristina Diaz.

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