About Lone Rucksack

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Lone Rucksack documents the escapades of Dani Bradford, a dirtbag solo adventurer and digital storyteller who has traveled extensively across the globe. In 2015, Dani completed a 4,500 mile+ cycling journey through 15 countries from Portugal to the Republic of Georgia. She has trekked across Northern Ethiopia, lived in Cape Town and South America, swam in Victoria Falls, traveled upriver in rural Albania, traversed jungle in Peru, shot video in Indonesia, and photographed fishing villages in Senegal.

Dani is a Wilderness First Responder, former National Geographic creative, Wilderness Badass Ambassador, fire-building expert, and sleeps outside more often than in. 


Dani is an ’80s kid, who grew up on goblins in Labyrinth and Star Wars, and Indiana Jones. She was an avid painter and reader, and spent summers taking apart lawn mowers and working at small automotive shops to learn about engines. When she graduated high school she couldn’t decide whether she wanted to be an electrician or artist, so she spent two years at community college, paying her way through school by working several part time jobs, one of which was at a Racecar and Metal Fabrication facility. 

She moved to Baltimore in 2006 to attend one of the top college programs for Graphic Design at The Maryland Institute College of Art. She loved business, and wanted to apply her artistic sensibilities to commercial principles. Dani graduated from MICA in 2008 with a BA in Graphic Design. While in college, she helped found a Racecar Fabrication business, and upon graduating, started freelancing for Inside Lacrosse magazine and Johns Hopkins University. She bought property near the UA campus in Baltimore and starting designing and building a house. 

Before the house was finished, she started working as a videographer in Washington, DC for an international NGO that worked on policy in developing countries dealing with poverty and malnutrition. She started traveling around Africa and Asia for work, helping set up conferences at in-country offices and surrounding areas, running the photography and video side of the conference, as well as shooting video and photos in the field. She traveled to Senegal where Dakar became almost a second home, interviewed the former President of Ghana (John Kufuor) in Accra, Ghana, and made presentations about incorporating video into researcher’s work in Abuja, Nigeria. She ran photo and video teams in Lebanon, India, and Indonesia. In 2012, burned out from construction on the weekends of her house in Baltimore, and commuting back and forth to Washington, DC and traveling, she decided she wanted to set off on her own. She left her job, and spent the next year+ traveling around Africa. She backpacked in Ethiopia, traveled to the farthest reaches of Senegal to shoot markets, and traveled overland from South Africa all the way to Malawi, camping with elephants in Botswana, jumping into Victoria Falls in Zambia, and shooting markets in Lilongwe, Malawi. She ended up living in Cape Town for a short period of time in the Gardens area, before returning to the US in May 2013.

Back on the East Coast in Baltimore, she started avidly rock climbing, and working for Under Armour on the eCommerce team. She began art directing photo shoots, and worked with an amazing team of stylists and photographers, and subsequently developed a love of the eCommerce business. She was part of the team that launched a newly re-designed responsive site at UA in 2013. 

At the end of 2014, Dani decided Under Armour had run its course, and she started freelancing with the portfolio and high level projects and clients she had worked with over the previous 6 years. She worked on a 3 month contract project with USA Today before embarking on a 6 month bicycle expedition across Europe from Lisbon, Portugal to Batumi, Republic of Georgia. 

When she returned in the fall of 2015, she started working for National Geographic, art directing photo shoots and working with photographers and stylists to tell a great story through the National Geographic brand. She worked on a new launch of the National Geographic responsive store site, and was responsible for the creative overhaul and UX design of the new site and launch. She created a new brand guide for the store, and pitched ideas across teams to utilize National Geographic’s massive resources. It was here she discovered the name for what she had been doing the last few years on her own— digital storyteller— and fully realized with her background in the eCommerce industry and in photography/video what she wanted to be doing full time with her own brand, Lone Rucksack.

In 2016, she left National Geographic to live in Ecuador, improve her Spanish (and surfing skills) to continue her work as a photographer and work on a side project in the Peruvian jungle, as well as work on the Lone Rucksack brand, telling great stories from the road. 

At the beginning of 2017, she returned to the US to launch her own freelancing company, and in May left for a solo, unassisted motorcycle tour from Washington, DC to Patagonia, Argentina. She’s currently on the road south sharing stories from the road!

See the Latest

 “The search is what anyone would undertake if she were not sunk in the everydayness of her own life. To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.” —Walker Percy ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Really excited to have a photo appear in these pages! Check out the @natgeoexpeditions page for their seriously awesome trips like this one at the Pacuare Lodge in Costa Rica.  “All great and precious things are lonely.” ―John Steinbeck ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀“Why aren’t you crying?” the x-ray tech asked at the military hospital. It was Saturday night, and I had just been moved to the military hospital after I was hit by a truck riding my motorcycle in Honduras the day before. I lay on a metal table, while two Honduran guys helped me twist into unnatural positions with a tibial plateau fracture, fibula fracture, sprained ankle, fresh stitches from one side of my leg to the other, road rash across my lower back, and dark purple bruises up and down the right side of my body. I was on a highway, riding at 60 mph to Tegucigalpa when a truck drove across the road in front of me, too close to react. Suddenly I was rolling, over and over and over, and heard the screech of metal— my motorcycle sliding across the asphalt. If the truck was going a little faster, it would have been a head-on collision, and I probably would have been killed instantly. Instead, my motorcycle clipped the front of the truck, and slammed sideways into the cab before taking off at a mad spin across the highway on its side, while I was thrown in the opposite direction. In the bright sunshine, on the side of the road, I struggled to pull off my helmet and gloves, finding my jeans in tatters, my boot pulled halfway off my right foot, and seeing blood and bone protruding from the open flesh on my right knee. It’s been almost 4 months since the accident— 15 weeks of wheelchairs and stitches and crutches and uncertainty. 15 weeks of being inside. There are only two ways forward— to be angry, or to move on. I moved on. Even though this careless guy in a truck changed my life in a split second, every adventure has risk, and a life without risk is no kind of life at all. I flew to Medellin, Colombia this past weekend to spend the next few months working, recovering, and learning to walk properly again. There’s a lot of crazy in this world, but also beauty— I still can’t be as active as I’d like, but from my bedroom window I can see the clouds rolling over the mountains in the early dawn, and the sparkling lights of buildings in the darkness. That I’m here to appreciate them is beautiful.  “Life damages us, every one. We can’t escape that damage. But now, I am also learning this: We can be mended. We mend each other.” ― Veronica Roth  “I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity, and her flaming self respect. And it's these things I'd believe in, even if the whole world indulged in wild suspicions that she wasn't all she should be.” ―F. Scott Fitzgerald ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I can’t run, or climb, or do most the things I’m used to doing— but I can kayak. I crutch down to the dock, climb into the kayak on one leg, carefully setting my braced leg onto the floor of the kayak, and pull myself into the water along the metal handrails beside the ramp. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ And so I glide across the lake every morning, watching the sun rise above the pine trees on the opposite shore. I can’t walk, but I fly across the water.  “You're going to be fine. You're at the bottom, you're only going up from from here. Everyone is always looking to the past but history is happening right now.” —Brian Bradford ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This may not look like much, but it’s an x-ray showing my foot is fine, which was an indescribable relief. In 2 weeks I find out if I need any additional surgery on my tibia. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This past month I’ve been in a dark place, finding out there were complications with my leg, not knowing what would happen, feeling like I was drowning in my inability to do anything about my current situation. I’ve spent the last month+ indoors, watching the clouds drift by through the window, the light slowly shifting from pale dawn to harsh afternoon to soft evening— waiting and wondering, seeing the world outside go by, wondering what it would hold for me, after the motorcycle accident. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I’ve still got a long way to go, but for the first time in weeks and weeks, I feel a little bit of hope there’s another side. That this is the bottom, and the only way is up.
 “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” —Dumbledore (aka J.K. Rowling) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Trusty boots. Gear. Go time.  "There is a saying in Tibetan, 'Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.' No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that's our real disaster." -Dalai Lama XIV See that brace? I don?t need it anymore! I found out Friday, as of now, I don't need additional surgery. Nothing is certain, and if I don't get more movement back in my knee it's still a possibility (ah the complications of being hit by a truck). All the exercises and buckets of spinach have paid off, and now I have another 6 weeks to heal before I see the surgeon again. The hope is I'll be walking without support end of October, and another 5-6 months until I can get back to normal activity (jumping off rocks, backpacking, trail running). Thanks for all the support, messages, and shared stories fellow Instagrammers!  “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” ―James Baldwin “If someone hits me on my motorcycle,” I told another motorcyclist, “I wanted to be unharmed or killed outright.” Just a week later, I was hit. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I wasn’t angry or upset at the accident— lying on the side of the road in the dirt, when my leg was being set and cleaned without anesthetic, or when I was lying alone for hours and hours in a hallway at a hospital in Honduras not knowing if I’d be able to get in for surgery as I lay there bleeding. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I wasn’t angry in Honduras, but I was back in the States— not at the accident itself, but at the sheer isolation of it; every day cleaning a horrific wound on my own leg, having to compartmentalize and pretend it wasn’t a big deal so I could get through it; crawling up stairs to scan documents I needed for the hospital; staring out the window at the outside, aching to get there; gossip and lectures by people who should have been supportive. Weeks after the accident, someone said to me, “This must be so hard for you,” and I almost cried to know there was someone tangible who understood and felt empathy. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I don’t know what the next few months will hold, but I’m here, and every day brings more problems but also more solutions, each day sliding into night, another opportunity to become better from an experience I didn’t choose for myself.  “... nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because it’s only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That's the only lasting thing you can create.” ― Chuck Palahniuk  “Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.” ―Zelda Fitzgerald
©2017 Lone Rucksack