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April 27, 2021

The Packrafting Podcast: Annie Le

In the latest episode of the Packrafting Podcast, Annie shares some of her most memorable packrafting adventures including a bikerafting trip in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides and a six-week adventure in Greenland in 2018. 

Annie lives in Scotland, where she works as a freelance outdoor educator for around eight months a year, living out of a van and saving up money to fund cool trips. Her favorite adventures these days usually include bikes and packrafts.

This episode was recorded in February, while Scotland was in lockdown and Annie was in the middle of her ‘Dip a Day’ challenge. She rode to various swimming locations near home and serendipitously chose the coldest winter in a long time. The ice on all of the lochs was often 6-8 inches, taking her a half hour to cut a hole through the ice to get in the water.

Like nearly all of us, Annie’s life has looked quite different for the past year. In March 2020, when many countries first started going into COVID lockdowns, Annie and her partner were in Greenland in the middle of a winter bikepacking expedition. After around a week in the mountains, they returned to town to resupply where they discovered a rapidly changing situation. All flights out of Greenland would be stopping in two days. They had to make a speedy decision: should they stay or should they go?! We chat about this in the episode.

I’ve always wanted to go to Greenland and talking to Annie reminded me why. We talk about her encounters with muskoxen, quick sand on a glacier-fed river, and dealing with a raft in need of repair. We also touch on the ethics of doing trips in polar bear country.

Like all episodes, it’s not just about packrafting. She shares some of the challenges her and Huw faced early on in their relationship, as they negotiated a new dynamic together in the outdoors. I love the story of their first bike touring trip in Iceland together! “It could have been a deal breaker,” Annie says.

Many of you will resonate with Annie’s challenge of balancing the nomadic lifestyle with a more settled routine. I know I do. Speaking of, the poem below reminds me of this topic. And if you are like me, I think it’ll resonate with many of you too:

The Double Life – by Don Blanding

How very simple life would be
If only there were two of me
A Restless Me to drift and roam
A Quiet Me to stay at home.
A Searching One to find his fill
Of varied skies and newfound thrill
While sane and homely things are done
By the domestic Other One.

And that’s just where the trouble lies;
There is a Restless Me that cries
For chancy risks and changing scene,
For arctic blue and tropic green,
For deserts with their mystic spell,
For lusty fun and raising Hell,

But shackled to that Restless Me
My Other Self rebelliously
Resists the frantic urge to move.
It seeks the old familiar groove
That habits make. It finds content
With hearth and home — dear prisonment,
With candlelight and well-loved books
And treasured loot in dusty nooks,

With puttering and garden things
And dreaming while a cricket sings
And all the while the Restless One
Insists on more exciting fun,
It wants to go with every tide,
No matter where…just for the ride.
Like yowling cats the two selves brawl
Until I have no peace at all.

One eye turns to the forward track,
The other eye looks sadly back.
I’m getting wall-eyed from the strain,
(It’s tough to have an idle brain)
But One says “Stay” and One says “Go”
And One says “Yes,” and One says “No,”
And One Self wants a home and wife
And One Self craves the drifter’s life.

The Restless Fellow always wins
I wish my folks had made me twins.

Listen to the Packrafting Podcast Episode #10

Listen to the latest episode with Annie Le in the player below:

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