We had the good fortune of connecting with Lennie Nelson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lennie, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
While I don’t know if I would call this an affirmation or quote, I find myself repeating this saying on a daily basis: “what is for me, cannot happen without me”. As someone who is often anxious and worried about the what-ifs of the future, this saying grants me so much peace. I am currently in an exciting space in my life. I just graduated from my undergrad and am planning on law school sometime in the near future but I am also building my TikTok base while living outside as a raft guide. This saying reminds me to stay grounded in my experiences and exist within the now.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Sometimes I find it hard to describe my work as most of my “work” is just another last-ditch effort to chase some sort of adventure and make a few bucks along the way. While this falls far out of the typical life path and work culture that we still see so prominently in westernized countries, it’s something I am very proud to be chasing. I figure if we only have one shot on this floating orb in the middle of deep space, we might as well make it as fun as possible. Fun work for me right now is raft guiding on the Arkansas River and creating content that makes myself and others smile via TikTok and Instagram. In the future, I hope to guide in Alaska and Costa Rica while working to obtain a JD in environmental law. Basically, I just want to play outside forever. Though rewarding on an infinite scale, this path is far from easy. People are quick to judge, assume, and raise eyebrows when you decide to follow your passion rather than money. The questioning never gets easier to tell the truth. Its scary watching the world burn around you while everyone screams at the importance of working 40 hour weeks to survive. That being said, I’d rather be broke and stoked then rich and pissed.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
While perhaps obvious at this point, my first and most important recommendation would be to go rafting down the Arkansas River. There is nothing quite like the thrill of big whitewater in your face! Rafting really takes it out of you though so from there we would need to grab some food from my favorite restaurant in Canon City: Nirvana. It is literally the best Indian food I’ve ever had and the portions are massive. We could even take Skyline Drive into town to catch some big views before our meal. Provided my visiting friends were outdoorsy-ish, we would head back to Cotopaxi and hunt down some good hikes in the national forest that neighbors my campsite. The hikes there aren’t too gnarly but are always rewarding. Another good option would be to head into Salida for diner at Highside where I would tell them about my first commercial highside during a morning river trip last year. The beauty of where I live is that raft culture is prominent and the outdoors comes first!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
While my family has always been incredibly supportive and instrumental in my growth through the years, Julie Sutton has played an impactful role in the recent season of my life. I will never forget the day I was interviewing with her over the phone for a potential position in a training course to become a white water raft guide. She told me that she wanted to add strong women to her team, and that she wanted me. Her confidence and support not only in me but for the women of the outdoor industry has lead me to not only recognize a new passion in my life, but has also helped me become the leader I am today. Maybe we wouldn’t even be having this conversation right now had it not been for Julie!
Other: tiktok: the_happihippi
Images on the water are from Arkansas River Tours