Wheelchair-accessible paths on the Appalachian Trail

2:36 p.m. on March 24, 2010 (EDT)
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This thread is for comments on the article "Wheelchair-accessible paths on the Appalachian Trail"

A look at four short wheelchair-accessible trails and another in the works along the Appalachian Trail.

Full article at http://www.trailspace.com/articles/2010/03/24/wheelchair-accessible-appalachian-trail.html

11:11 p.m. on March 24, 2010 (EDT)
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Galehead and Zealand Falls Huts in New Hampshire are wheelchair accessible.

The one mile trial into Zealand is fairly flat, but there are bog walks where the boards are narrow. Access trails to Galehead are steep so assistance would be necessary. It has been done.

12:17 a.m. on March 25, 2010 (EDT)
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I think this is a great thing. As long as they are not in wilderness areas where wheels are illegal, or should wheels be legalised in wilderness areas for "special" users? Paved trail would prevent the tires from causing the same kind of erosion as mountain bikes cause.

Too many of the thousands of square miles of federal lands are accessible only to unemployed dirty long hair hippies who never shave, because they're the only ones with the time to hike into these areas. Are we protecting our best wilderness areas for these low life's? I say pave more trails and allow golf carts into wilderness areas as long as they stay on the trail.

I also would like to see an elevator on EL Capitan to some easy climbing spots so newbies can join in, maybe with safe preplaced protection.

A couple of animated stuffed animals would ensure that everyone gets to witness "real" wildlife in a natural setting.

just my $.02 worth.

Jim S

9:28 p.m. on March 25, 2010 (EDT)
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.....Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

Just because your handicapped does in no way mean that you suddenly have no desire to enrich your life, or to make the most of it.

We should offer handicapped persons areas where they can safely experience nature. I don't think a handicap reduces the splendor of such experiences, those kinds of experiences may be relative to them with regards to the type of handicap they have.

One could argue that all humans enter the wilderness with a handicap when compared to the abilities of the four legged furry critters that thrive there, all doing so with nothing more than they were born with.

Yeah, I don't mind sharing.

10:26 p.m. on March 25, 2010 (EDT)
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I am with Trout,

Im sure we all have been places where you know there is no way anyone in a wheel chair could get to and I am not for roads being cut into the forrest to make them more accesible. But I do think that there are also many areas that can be made more accessible to hadicaped people without taking away from its grandure.

10:57 p.m. on March 25, 2010 (EDT)
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I suspect the three-miles-out-of-two-thousand set aside for the disabled will be with us for some time, as the top priority for people trying to improve access is to make our cities and towns more livable for the disabled.

Recreation comes after jobs, workplaces, and more immediate needs. That's why I think it's up to those of us who know people with disabilities to encourage them to get out in nature more. It starts with recognition.

A great story I read about last year: a guy was hiking in Yosemite and came upon this big group of young guys who physically carried another young guy up to one of the most scenic places in the park (not Half Dome; it was Cloud's Rest). Very inspiring, and no ramps were installed, nor were any trails paved. (here's an account of it).

12:37 p.m. on March 28, 2010 (EDT)
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Balance, grasshopper.

6:59 p.m. on April 20, 2010 (EDT)
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Tom, I KNEW you'd be making a mark elsewhere! Glad to see you're getting out at least as much. We'll be doing another White Mtn summit in August, accompanied by others with disabilities who've decided they don't want to sit around and let their disability dictate their activity level. I'll keep you posted. Coe is as gorgeous as ever after a wet winter, by the way.

JimS, just to clear up a little, very common misconception - if wheels are the only way you can get around (i.e. my chair) those wheels are not prohibited in federal wilderness areas. Both the ADA and the Wilderness Act contain that clause. I'm not out there doing what I do asking for ramps and flat, paved paths all over federal land. I am a fan of living as full a life as possible, for everyone. I joined Trailspace today after I found Tom's byline - it must be a cool place if he's hanging around, eh?:-)

7:20 p.m. on April 20, 2010 (EDT)
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Welcome 4wheelbob,

I was born with Epilepsy, I was not allowed to play contact sports as a kid, the military didn't want me, I have no doubt it doesn't look good to an employer either. The other kids never wanted me to come over to spend the night, etc, etc.

Fortunately, after adolescence the meds started to control the seizures. Then I was able to get a drivers license. I still have minor problems with tremors, mostly in my hands when I'm tired.

Don't tell no one, but somebody messed up and let me have a backpack and fishing license.

7:57 p.m. on April 20, 2010 (EDT)
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Welcome to Trailspace, 4wheelbob.

I remember reading Tom's blog account of your wheelchair ascent of White Mountain. Very impressive! Good luck on your next attempt.

8:05 p.m. on April 21, 2010 (EDT)
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4wheelbob,

Would it be too much to ask for some photos or a trip report of your next trip in August?

I would thoroughly enjoy that!

1:28 a.m. on April 22, 2010 (EDT)
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Alicia, thank you! I kinda popped in rather than a formal intro after a mutual friend of Tom's and myself pointed me to this thread. Looks like a fine place to spend some time - my own ramblings are chronicled here: http://www.ebparks.org/bobcoomber

It's my write ups of local (SF Bay / East Bay) hikes, one fully accessible and one 4wheelbob accessible each month. Kinda fun to roll on trails for a living, eh?

Trouthunter, consider it done. It's a prelude to a planned unassisted summit of Kilimanjaro late 2010. We still seek sponsors with big corporate names, as the trip will be centered around a donation of at least 200 wheelchairs in Tanzania and Kenya. Then I'll summit. Hopefully, I'll be the first to go up without anyone pushing or carrying me. They tell me it's not so bad....take care, so nice to make everyone's acquaintence!

10:12 p.m. on April 22, 2010 (EDT)
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I have always mused why we, as a society, have chosen to tailor our infrastructure to accommodate wheel chairs, at tremendous expense, when intuitively it seems more effective and less costly, not to mention grant greater automomy, to design chariots for these folks that are capable of ascending stairs, surmounting curbs, perhaps even getting along gentle trails?
Ed

1:39 p.m. on June 18, 2010 (EDT)
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I wish I could get in touch with Rambler. As a person who is going to need to use a wheelchair for mobility for the rest of his life I would love to try both Zealand Falls and Galehead. During the few years that my legs were strong enough to be able to hike I visited Zealand Falls and have always wanted to go back there. However, until about 20 minutes ago I thought I would never make it. Thanks rambler you really made my day and gave hope to an middleaged man in a wheelchair

1:51 p.m. on June 18, 2010 (EDT)
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to 4wheelbob:

If your still planning on Killimanjaroo check out Chris Waddell's web site. He did the same hike within the last year. It is my understanding that he has become the first person to summit killmanjaroo without the use of his legs but he might be able to give you some info.

7:12 p.m. on June 18, 2010 (EDT)
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Bern summited in a wheelchair in 2007, and a woman did it shortly after, with Waddell in 2009. In all cases, they were carried through some short passages that involved very narrow trail sections (there is one just a short distance below the summit when traversing along the rim of the crater) and some big "steps" over rocks. None so far have done it entirely under their own power in wheelchairs.

In any case, by Tanzanian law, all "foreigners" have to hire local guide, porters, and cook and are restricted to carrying no more than 10 kg of their gear (allowed gear presumably being rain gear, warm layers, lunch, and water - and I got them to let me carry my own camera gear in addition to my 10 kg).

12:48 p.m. on June 21, 2010 (EDT)
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Shenandoah National Park has a number of accessible trails (purpose built) as well as a number of trails that the more adventurous 4 wheelers would enjoy.

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