Many Disabled People Think They Can’t Go Hiking
If you can sit in a wheelchair, walk with a walker or rollator, chances are that you can go hiking!
Case In Point
Did you know that Bob Coomber, climbed all 14,246 feet of White Mountain Peak in California in 2007?
If you’re thinking that’s no big deal, then think about this: he accomplished this feat, (…wait for it…), in a wheelchair!
Now you know how he acquitted his nickname: 4-Wheel Bob.
Due to having Type 1 Diabetes (a.k.a. Juvenile Diabetes) since his early 20’s & severe osteoporosis, he has been confined to a wheelchair since the 1990’s.
Strides Have Been Made To Make Trails More Accessible For Those With Disabilities
Depending on the type of disability you have, you may or may not need anyone to go with you.
There are quite a few recreation areas and parks that have made their trails, campgrounds and viewpoints more accessible for disabled people.
One of the ways they have done this is by having their trails paved.
Hikers with disabilities, in particular, (but not limited to), those with diabetes, need to make sure they are watching their blood sugar levels & that they are staying well hydrated.
For those using walkers or rollators, you may need to stop more often than able-bodied hikers in order to give your feet a rest. The reason for this is because some hikers with disabilities are more at risk for getting blisters.
It is important to be aware that during exercise, our body burns more blood glucose. The same is also true when we are in colder temperatures or higher altitudes.
Because our blood glucose levels can fluctuate, a lot of hikers keep glucose tablets in their backpack.
Should your blood glucose level drop, these tablets will provide a standard dose of sugar, which should bring your blood glucose level back to normal.
If you don’t have these tablets, you can use snacks as a substitute, but the tablets would be better.
Dogs On The Trail
Many of the National Park trails prohibit dogs, except service dogs.
As a general rule service dogs are allowed inside of buildings and on the trails.
However, you will mostly likely need to register your service dog at the ranger’s office. You should make these arrangements before your trip.
- As with all hikers, (disabled or not), leave a written itinerary with a family member or friend. Make sure you include the route you will be taking and when you plan to be back home.
- Local hiking clubs and singles organizations have so much to offer.
In particular, local hiking clubs have a wealth of information about the trails in the area and the singles organizations offer a great way to meet new people.
If you are looking for a hiking companion, you can ask the local hiking club if they know of anyone who would be interested/willing to accompany a hiker with a disability.
- Designate someone to make decisions & settle any disputes that may arise, if there will be 3 or more people in your group.
- If you want to bring your dog:
A. Be sure that the trail you choose allows dogs. There are some trails that do not allow “dogs”, but they may allow “service dogs”.
B. Your dog should always be on a leash. You never know what can happen unexpectedly that may scare your dog. When scared, sometimes even a seemingly even tempered dog may have a fight or flight reaction. If you are disabled, you may not be able to control your unleashed dog should your dog become aggressive. You also won’t be able to chase your dog if your dog runs off.
C. Be sure to bring extra water and treats that are specifically for your dog’s needs.
Where To Find Wheelchair Accessible Trails
For a list of state and local trails, you can visit this website:
Making A Difference
The opportunity to be able to hike is a gift. On the trail, there is beauty to behold, fresh air to breathe and a feeling of rejuvenation within our body and mind.
Why not share that gift with someone who is disabled? How? One way is to join a local hiking club. Let them know you would be interested in sharing the joy of hiking with someone who is disabled and needs a bit of help or reassurance that they can do this.
Another way is to find a meet-up in your area for people with disabilities that want to be more active. You can let them know of your desire to help people with disabilities to experience hiking for the first time or again, if they were hikers before they became disabled.
Don’t let the summer get away from you! Disabled or not, you can start making plans now for a refreshing and rewarding hiking and/or camping trip!
To read another interesting article from The Joy of Hiking, please click on the link below.