With the summer fast approaching, it’s time to plan out how you can escape the house or apartment and enjoy the great outdoors! Wheelchair riders just like you are going on outdoor adventures every single day.
This summer, push the boundaries. Try something new. Do something you hadn’t done for a long time. Here are five summer activities to try out!
Hiking can take you to a many-thousand-feet-up summit, or it can take you to the trail down the road. It all counts, and it’s all fun. When pursuing a good wheelchair hike, there are a few things worth considering, but adaptive hiking is a great way to get some fresh air and challenge yourself as much or as little as you’d like.
As you prepare to head to the trailhead, make sure you’re setting yourself up for success by avoiding these common mistakes. With a little foresight, a bit of research, a conversation with anyone who’ll be joining you, and good expectations, you’ll find yourself better prepared than most.
Here are some tips to help you enjoy your next hike:
- Be weather-ready. Prepare for temperature and weather changes.
- Be on the same “support page” as your fellow hikers.
- Bring appropriate supplies and equipment.
- Research the trail ahead of time.
- Pursue your own summit (not someone else’s)
Now is the perfect time to get yourself down to the water, cast your line, and catch something fridge-door-worthy!
Just like hiking, wheelchair fishing is totally versatile, which makes it the perfect adaptive activity. With the right equipment, roll up to the edge of the boat, park right near the edge of the water, or (like Mark, below) just ride right into the dang stream and cast your line!
Fishing from the Water
“I’m happy to report that fishing in the GRIT Freedom Chair was a success! I was able to both fish from the riverbank and do some fly fishing while in the river. I was more concerned about the latter since [it requires me] to be in the water to cast. Even though the water level is high this year on the Au Sable River in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan, we went to a canoe landing, where it was relatively shallow and the current was lighter.
Once I was in the water, however, it was surprisingly easy to move around. The bottom of the river is a mix of small rocks and sand, which the GRIT Freedom Chair handled nicely. I was able to get out about halfway across the river (max depth of about 1.5 feet) and make it back to shore. Casting wasn’t an issue since the chair was stable and I was able to use the handles for balance when needed. It was great to be out in the river again, and I’m sure with a little more planning (and the right bait), I will be more successful next time.”
Fishing from a Boat
If you’d rather stay on the drier side, look into boat rentals or a program like Bird Dog Boats in Williston, Florida, which runs adaptive fishing trips. This 501(c)3 “provides programs and venues for individuals with disabilities to develop independence, confidence, and fitness through participation in outdoor boating sports.”
Whether you’re a skeet-shooting phenom or are heading out for your first-ever hunt, adaptive hunting can be an outright blast. Rally up some buddies, fill your backpack with jerky and a hearty dose of big-game optimism, and get on out there! Adaptive hunters who are able to use manual chairs often them over motorized chairs, as the latter can make quite a bit of noise and scare off wildlife.
“I enjoy every aspect of the outdoors. From hunting to hiking, I do it all. I believe it is important to maintain an active lifestyle regardless of your disability because it promotes not only physical wellness but mental wellness, too. I’ve never let my injury define who I am. With the help of the GRIT chair, my wife, Cortney, and my service dog, Minnie, there are a lot of adventures I’ll now be able to tackle!”
To see some great content on adaptive hunting, check out these Instagram accounts:
There’s visiting the outdoors, and then there’s spending a night camping in dense trees or on a dusty beach, sleeping beneath the stars. Why not enjoy a bit of both?
With a few accommodations and some planning, wheelchair camping has never been more doable than it is right now.
If you’re planning on a camping trip, you will need:
- An extra-large tent to fit your chair
- A wheelchair that can easily wheel over rough campgrounds
A willingness to use a less-than-ideal bathroom
“After years of experimentation and adaptation, I finally found a setup that works for me. Backpacking might no longer be possible (although I still haven’t given up on the idea of wheelchair backpacking), but camping near a car was definitely feasible. Yes, I was returning to car-camping!”
Enjoying the Beach
From the sand and sunshine to the salty air and sea-breeze, there’s a lot to love about hanging out at the beach. Here are some thing to consider when visiting the beach in a wheelchair.
Get the right equipment
If you are using a standard wheelchair or other mobility aid, many beaches feature accessible boardwalks. These allow you to enjoy the view or even fish off the pier. Other beaches are starting to offer paved ramps or rubber mats that allow you to ride right down to the water’s edge. However, if you are looking to leave your own tracks in the sand and have difficulty walking, a beach wheelchair might be a good solution for you. Renting a chair is also an option, though supply is usually limited and the process can be a bit of a hassle.
Ask: What accessibility features are available at that specific beach?
Boardwalks: Permanent boardwalks aren’t just for browsing shops. Some beaches have created boardwalks that wind through the sand dunes of the beach and sometimes right to the water’s edge. Do a little research about the beach you want to visit and find out what their boardwalk looks like. The National Park Service is a great place to start the search for a park or beach.
Rubber or Polyester Mats to the Water: Companies like Mobi-mat are making it easier and more cost-effective for beach areas to open their terrain to users of all abilities.
Showers: While it is fun to get covered in sand and saltwater, you may not want to take the beach back with you to your car or your hotel. Many beaches offer an outdoor rinse station for beachgoers, which may or may not have a fold-down bench for wheelchair users. It’s a lot easier when you have a water-friendly chair and can just roll right up.
Bathrooms: If you need space for your wheelchair in the bathroom, find out if they have an accessible stall, or try to park near an accessible bathroom. Planning ahead will take a lot of stress out of the equation, when nature calls!
Parking: If you require accessible parking, many beaches have very convenient parking for those with a valid permit. This will allow you to unload easier and get to your beach adventure even faster.
It’s Time to Get Outside!
No matter your activity of choice, it has never been more possible to explore the beautiful outdoors from your wheelchair.
Looking for a wheelchair to help you get outdoors? Order a GRIT Freedom Chair today and you can be adventuring outside in no time!