Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Surviving and Thriving with Brain Injuries

A beautiful summer day - sunny, much less humid, and gradually working its way towards hot instead of totally broiling here in western Massachusetts. I caught an hour or so with All Out Adventures at our canoeing program in Gill on the Connecticut River and unexpectedly learned some important distinctions about brain injury, which can run the gamut from mild to severe, and effect mental, physical, and neurological functions of the body.

ServiceNet was there with a group of people with brain injuries. Some explored the cove by canoe in search of eagles, beaver, and cool shady edges on the far shore while three others hung out under a canopy playing Uno. As I was labeling equipment for the program, they updated me on causes of brain injury, not all of which are considered "traumatic", meaning caused by mishap such as an auto or motorcycle accident.

Blind, Solo, and Through-Hiking the Appalachian Trail!

Mike Hanson from Minnesota, is hiking the AT this summer from Georgia to Maine. No guide, no guide dog - just himself with pack and hiking poles. Wow! He is committed to drawing attention to the capabilities of people who are blind and also the use of adapted GPS for blind hikers.

Mike has been an active outdoorsman for thirty-some years and has been preparing for this year's trek for a few years, securing funding and testing his methods. Now in his mid-40's, he is navigating the trail at a pace most through-hikers would find frustrating, using his poles to tap out comprehension of the roots, rocks and obstacles along the way. Traveling about ten miles a day, he has already covered 1000 miles. This past weekend while he was passing over Race Mountain in Mt. Everett State Reservation in the Berkshires, he met DCR's Chief of Recreation on the trail hiking - which is how I found out about Mike's trek. Wish I could say I met him on the AT!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

On the River with the Geezer and the Gimp

The Swift River in Belchertown has ice cold clear water, so clear you can see the trout darting alongside your boat as you paddle upstream from the put in off Cold Spring Road in Belchertown. This narrow winding river is the perfect place to be on a 90 degree day, with its refreshing pockets of cool air above the water.

I joined Bob and Charlie this week on the river, for a welcome respite from office, programs and continuous logistics. Self proclaimed the Geezer and the Gimp, they've been adventure buddies ever since meeting at an outdoor program 15 years ago. They cycle or paddle together each week, exploring and re-exploring trails and rivers all over the place. Charlie is quadriplegic, an avid nature lover, sails in Boston Harbor with Piers Park Sailing, and teaches wheelchair mobility skills at rehab hospitals. Bob must be somewhere close to 80, has a lifelong love affair with motorcycles and boats, and publishes an intriguing magazine called Messing About in Boats.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Staying Cool in Kayaks on the Water

Yesterday I joined an adaptive kayaking program at D.A.R. State Forest in Goshen for an easy hour of cooling off on the water. Brenda Davies of Stavros Outdoor Access was the outdoor leader of the day and had plenty of fun ideas for the dozen or so paddlers on the lake the last hour of her day long program. The D.A.R. State Forest is on the eastern edge of the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, an easy drive from Greenfield, Northampton, and Pittsfield. It is a great place to picnic, enjoy a beach (beach wheelchair available!), camp, fish, and explore a 1/4 mile accessible trail as well as miles of hiking trails.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hot Day Brings Out Handcyclists

For over twelve years, people have come from all over Massachusetts to ride adaptive bikes on the Norowottuck Rail Trail in the Connecticut River Valley. Today, despite the heat, many riders were enjoying the trail, which is blessed with a lot of shade and a gentle breeze that sweeps across the farm fields in the valley. Even with temperatures above ninety, riders were having a great time.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Adaptive Rowing in Holyoke

I stole away from the office one morning early last week to catch a glimpse of adaptive rowing in Holyoke. It was one of those perfect summer mornings, cool and bright, and the river was calm and inviting. I found Stephanie Moore of Holyoke Rows in the center of a hubub of people and gear on the dock at Jones Ferry.

Stephanie has been offering adaptive rowing for years in conjunction with DCR's Universal Access Program, and currently hosts the program at a new boathouse in Holyoke, which allows rowing and paddling to be accessible to everyone in this urban area along the Connecticut River.