‘I want self-reliance back there’
“I want that independence back, I want to remove the safety net,” he explains.
While Mr. Thomas believes the countryside isn’t right for everyone, he believes it’s better to stay outdoors. In 2013, he started Organizing Team FarSight to help empower other visually impaired people to walk, climb, and be active outdoors.
Even short hikes can make sense
Ambika Rajyagor, 26, of Chino Hills, California, loves hiking with her older sister, Devika, 23. The couple has gone to Yosemite, Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree National Parks, but sometimes struggles scramble to find accessible trails.
Devika has cerebral palsy, convulsions and cannot speak. She was able to walk until about five years ago, but now she can only control her facial muscles. She cannot operate a motorized wheelchair and her family cannot afford a wheelchair for different terrains.
If the sisters want to go hiking, Ambika has to push Devika, which is a challenge because Ambika also has a disability, an autoimmune condition that affects her joints and energy levels.
During a recent hike in Carbon Canyon Regional Park in California, Ambika and Devika tested out a new bright purple wheelchair, with slim rubber wheels that provide some traction. Even with the better tyres, the pair struggled to get out of the parking lot, covered with hard gravel, before reaching the hard dirt road.
“We won’t let the trail get in our way,” says Ambika.
After encountering unexpected inclines on a short stretch of road that were rated “easy” by online reviews, Ambika had to take a break. She took off her sister’s headphones, which played Devika’s favorite music from Taylor Swift, so they could both hear the birds flying around a small redwood grove. Devika gave her a smile as they rested.
For Ambika, this joyful moment symbolizes the perspective that hikers with disabilities can bring to outdoor culture. While many outdoor enthusiasts intend to conquer the outdoors by undertaking increasingly challenging hikes on ever-higher peaks, some hikers are Disability often takes time to appreciate outdoor activities.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/03/us/disabled-hikers-outdoor-access.html ‘I want self-reliance back there’