Most of society envision hikers and campers to be ultra-fit-top-shape athletes... This is a misconception... Those that love the Great outdoors are of all colors sizes and shapes and some of us are physically disabled too.
Whether you are in a wheelchair, have a prosthetic limb, suffer from nerve damage or a debilitating ailment your love of the wilderness is still within reach.
I started Survival Intuition programs for such individuals to give those with disabilities hope and courage and the means to get out in to nature to do what they love. This inspiration to do this all began for me in college while i was attending U Mass Dartmouth University for engineering.
The dean of engineering learned of my interest in helping people (its why i was learning engineering) and told me of a program that they had called S.H.A.R.E. It was a volunteer program that the engineering and science department had to help those with disabilities. Inventing or repurposing old equipment to aid people to do daily tasks. Remember the late Stephen Hawkins physics professors speech talking device, this is but one of the types of device aids that we created.
When i was 17 i had 2 major accidents to my back that would result 20 years later in me being crippled for 6 months and bed ridden for another 3 months unable to walk, stand or even sit waiting on my back staring at the ceiling hoping that an opening would become available for my doctor to perform surgery. But alas it took too long and nerve damage resulted, but i could stand once again- walk on my own accord and become part of society once again
Many people take for granted the simple things in life. Sleeping for example. People get tired and go to bed and wake up the next morning feeling refreshed. That isn't my life though. The nerve damage makes it hard for me to fall asleep and the pain is what constantly wakes me up.
So what does a person do? Just give up on life? Accept that they cannot do the activities they once loved? Be home bound- a freaken couch potato? I couldn't accept that as my reality. There had to be more- a way to still do what i loved in the outdoors.
Ok so one also has to know their limitations. I can never ride a traditional bike ever again that part I knew and accepted. Nor could i scale a mountain or jump out of a plane. So the question was what can i do.. what gear or invention or jury-rig do i need to be able to achieve outdoor freedom.
Even though you are disabled you still have choices in life and activities that you can still do just with a little help from entrepreneurs' inventions.
Well i loved kayaking but sit-in kayaks were no longer an option. So i bought myself a sit-on-top kayak. The seat it came with just didn't cut it for my disability so i got a surf to summit 4 inch raised ultra plush seat. The paddles I had were now too heavy for me to use with nerve damage so I found the lightest buoyant paddles on the market by Werner paddles. For days on the ocean where i knew i may tire out i had an emergency sail that i rigged to my kayak so that if i couldn't paddle back to shore i could sail back . I would later redesign a hitch mounted dear winch to accommodate a kayak instead so that i could raise the kayak to my SUV's roof without lifting it myself.
I also loved camping. Sadly i realized that all my previous camping gear that i bought when i didn't have nerve damage was just to heavy for me to carry. So i started over from scratch.
Bought ultra light gear to replace my much much heavier camping gear. I could no longer get in or out of my tents with ease so i switched from a tent to a hammock. I started bringing with me climbing gear : carabiners , climbers pully, rescue figure 8 and paracord. With this climbing gear i was able to jury-rig contraptions to help me lift ,move, and build things without having to physically lift stuff by hand.
No matter what your disability is there is hope. A persons life is not over just cause they are disabled. The innovations of the world has created items and gear to assist you in your endeavors. Your limitations are just that: a barrier preventing you personally from doing a task but with the right technology assisting you, your horizon is an endless blank canvas that is ready to be explored...
I urge those that are disabled to not give up & look to the internet to find gear aids and search for organizations that can either assist you, inform you or point you in the right direction to achieving your goals in the outdoors. Realize you're only true limitation is fear.
Fear of the unknown
Fear that leads to giving up
& fear of achieving your goal. yes that is such a thing.