Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Freedom in the Freedom Chair

Path to Edith Cavell Glacier, Jasper NP, Alberta, Can

I had been wanting a good all-terrain wheelchair for a long time.  I wanted to get back to the wilderness.  Partly because it was something I loved, that made me happy.  Partly because it was a huge part of my identity that had been missing for some time (how can you say you like backpacking, if you can no longer do it?).  And partly because it was something my friends and family loved, and I wanted to be a part of that.

Approximately two years ago, I  received a huge box in the mail -- my new all-terrain Freedom Chair from GRIT.  My seated wilderness adventures were about to begin!

Conquering Seattle sidewalks
There is a learning curve involved with the Freedom Chair.  I soon learned where it didn't work for me (tight spaces, airplanes, narrow trails) and where it was a perfect fit (Road trips, airplane stowage, Seattle sidewalks, fire roads, wildlife refuge trails, Rails-to-Trails paths, and wide hiking trails).  I learned the chair's quirks and how to overcome them (the levers can't be on when backing up).  I also learned how to supplement the advantages of the chair (a willing and able "pusher" helped me to go farther and steeper).

Fall larches from Rainy Lake, WA

With the Freedom Chair, I have been able to return to the
wilderness, doing what I love to do, reclaiming that missing piece in my life and my identity.



    • Black bear, Mt Rainier NP, WA
      Elk, Jasper NP, AB

      Marmots, Jasper NP, AB
      Trillium, WA
      Botanical Gardens,  Seattle

      Edith Cavell Glacier, Jasper NP, AB

      Gold Pond, WA


      • HIKING 

           Western WA woods

      Discovery Park, Seattle

      Othello Tunnels, BC

      Canadian Mountains (BC & AB)

      Asilomar State Beach, CA

        Just as importantly, the Freedom Chair has allowed me to join in and be part of the group
      Snoqualmie River, WA
      Lake Chelan, WA

      Snoqualmie River, WA
      Gold Pond, WA
      Columbia River, OR

      I have always believed -- and this has been strongly re-inforced by a progressive disease -- that if there's something that you love to do and you can somehow do, then you should do it now.  With disability, the idea of what you can do must be creatively and flexibly supplemented with different ways of doing things and with adaptive tools, such as the Freedom Chair.  My next step is to figure out the logistics to go backpacking!

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