by: Nerissa Cannon
One of the original GRIT Freedom Chair Trailblazers ambassadors, Nerissa has worked also worked and written for GRIT! Her own journey with chronic illness has made her very passionate about helping other people get the most out of life with a disabling condition.
The great thing about the outdoors is that no matter what time of the year it is, there is always something to do. Sometimes you have to adapt to the weather or the temperature in order to properly enjoy things, though. Luckily, my GRIT Freedom Chair is a versatile, all-terrain wheelchair. It allows me to enjoy all types of activities no matter what the seasons throw at me.
Where I live tends to have a lot of late-season snow, so off-roading conditions aren’t exactly favorable. To stay fit and active, I take to the pavement! I easily roll over winter-damaged sections. I also make sure to incorporate hills into my routine and the GRIT Freedom Chair’s design helps me maintain my forward momentum as I move up the inclines.
Once the snow fully melts, grass becomes lush and parks are difficult to resist. With the temperature still very pleasant—even in direct sun—I love spending lazy afternoons walking my dog in the park. Whether I’m just laying around reading a book or playing with random sticks, my GRIT Freedom Chair allows us to get off the pavement and go wherever we please.
Conditions will now allow me to move up into higher elevations to explore. However, the spring melt makes the ground quite soft, and even downright muddy. Luckily, my GRIT Freedom Chair not only keeps my hands clean over this mucky terrain, but it allows me the ability to power through it.
There is always a race to run in June! I truly enjoy wheelchair racing in my GRIT Freedom Chair. I certainly end up having the advantage on the downhill, but even on the uphill the lever design allows me to keep up my momentum and I end up passing lots of other participants. I’m often the only wheelchair and turn heads while I’m racing.
Monsoon season has yet to best the GRIT Freedom Chair! I’m able to stay much safer since I don’t have to worry about my hands gripping onto wet wheels as I maneuver around. After the storm passes, I’m able to power through any mud I come across without even looking down at the ground. This leaves my eyes free to scout for any rainbows that may suddenly appear.
Being the middle of summer, August is the best time of the year to hit the water! Whether it’s the beach or the lake, the GRIT Freedom Chair allows me to independently power through soft conditions, right down to where the action is. It feels so freeing to move around in the water in my GRIT Freedom Chair!
It may be cliché, but fall is my favorite season! The temps are cooler, but conditions for outdoor activities are ideal. The Aspen trees are only briefly at the height of their color, so I make sure not to miss out. I take my GRIT Freedom Chair up into the mountains to not only see the colors, but to become immersed in them.
October seems to be the muddiest season in the mountains. There is increased precipitation, but cooler days, so the ground stays moist as it prepares to accept the snow that will shortly come. This combination often means trails are deeply rutted, but I enjoy getting off road with the GRIT Freedom Chair and splashing around in all the mud!
“Second summer” typically hits my area in November. A last burst of warmth dries out the trails covered in dead vegetation from the previous weeks. This is my favorite time of year for getting off the main trails and crawling over rocks and boulders!
The first snowfalls of the winter season are often the most magical. However, even getting around town in those conditions can be downright impossible without the right equipment. With the GRIT Freedom Chair, I have no issues getting through not-yet-plowed sidewalks, snowy pileups in the curb cuts, slushy puddles, and icy pathways. I can do all of that, keep my hands dry, and still keep a smile on my face!
Sometimes National Parks are better in the off season! The temperatures are cooler and the crowds are dramatically smaller. My partner and I visited Zion National Park in January. Wheelchair hiking a section of the Court of the Patriarchs was challenging but fun. The harsh and limited sun the canyons get this time of year makes for some interesting trail conditions, but the GRIT Freedom Chair was trustworthy where we chose to take it.
Prior to my illness, skiing was one of my biggest passions. It made me feel more alive and free than just about anything else. It was such a relief to finally learn how to ski again! My GRIT Freedom Chair made the experience even better. It allowed me to safely get around the cobblestones of the resort. It also easily rolled through the snow at the base so I could transfer into my monoski rig. My instructor was envious of my effortless mobility!
Updated August 31, 2021; originally posted March 18, 2018