Freedom in the GRIT Freedom Chair

Freedom in the GRIT Freedom Chair

Sep 14th 2021

by: Jenny Schmitz

Editor's Note: This article is reprinted with permission from the author from Wheelchair Wandering. Jenny lives in Seattle because of its unique offering of mountains, water, culture, and cool weather. She spends as much time as possible enjoying the outdoors. Her passion is travel, which has become a multi-adventure experience since her MS required a transition into a wheelchair.

Jenny Schmitz hiking western Washington woods in GRIT Freedom Chair


Getting the GRIT Freedom Chair

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 GRIT Freedom Chair. My seated wilderness adventures were about to begin!

Jenny Schmitz unboxing GRIT Freedom Chair


Learning

There is a learning curve involved with the GRIT 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).

With the GRIT 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.


Camping

Jenny Schmitz camping GRIT Freedom Chair

Jenny Schmitz group camping with GRIT Freedom Chair


Experiencing Otherwise-hidden Sights in the Wilderness

Jenny Schmitz Edith Cavell Glacier using GRIT Freedom Chair


Hiking

Jenny Schmitz western Washington woods hiking GRIT Freedom Chair

Jenny Schmitz hiking Asilomar State Beach CA GRIT Freedom Chair

Just as importantly, the GRIT Freedom Chair has allowed me to join in and be part of the group.

Jenny Schmitz hiking Snoqualmie River Washington in GRIT Freedom Chair

I have always believed (and this has been strongly re-enforced 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 GRIT Freedom Chair. My next step is to figure out the logistics to go backpacking!

Updated September 14, 2021; originally posted May 5, 2018.