Beyond "Beyond the Pavement"

by: Jenny Schmitz

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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.


This post may read like an advertisement for the GRIT Freedom Chair, with its call to "move beyond the pavement," but it is actually an expression of gratitude. During our trip to the Canadian Rockies, the Freedom Chair made it possible for me:

  • to do things

"Walk in" camping at Snaring River in Jasper National Park!

  • to go places

  • and to see things

 Ted falling into Lake Louise (or not)

Ted falling into Lake Louise (or not)

Ted extended the ability and range of the Freedom Chair with his willingness and ability to push the chair up incredibly steep hills, to maneuver it around rocks, roots, and other obstacles, and to encourage me to take on challenges that seemed impossible.

In particular, there were two hikes in the Canadian Rockies, with the help of both Ted and the Freedom Chair, that I was able to go beyond "beyond the pavement" and hike some difficult trails with fantastic views.

 Bow Lake & Bow Glacier from Bow Summit

Bow Lake & Bow Glacier from Bow Summit

The first was the trail to Bow Summit, overlooking ... wait for it ... Bow Lake and Bow Glacier.  
 

A steep paved path leading from the Peyton Lake Overlook met up with a fire-road, which was wide and covered with hard-packed dirt, but soon became far too steep for my arms.  Ted to the rescue! After the snow patches, the trail took a turn for the worse -- even more steep and rocky. With serious help, I continued upward, to where a dirt path branched off from the road.  The path was wide enough and the surface hard enough that I was able to continue up (still with serious help) for quite a bit, before the path narrowed too much for the wheelchair.

 Start of Trail to Bow Summit

Start of Trail to Bow Summit

 Fire Road to Bow Summit

Fire Road to Bow Summit

 After the snow, the road got even more steep and rocky

After the snow, the road got even more steep and rocky

A steep paved path leading from the Peyton Lake Overlook met up with a fire-road, which was wide and covered with hard-packed dirt, but soon became far too steep for my arms.  Ted to the rescue! After the snow patches, the trail took a turn for the worse -- even more steep and rocky. With serious help, I continued upward, to where a dirt path branched off from the road.  The path was wide enough and the surface hard enough that I was able to continue up (still with serious help) for quite a bit, before the path narrowed too much for the wheelchair.

Eventually, the bugs became to ferocious to sit and admire the valley view, and we headed back down the trail

 Bow Summit

Bow Summit

 My bug defense stance

My bug defense stance

The second memorable hike was the on the back side of Lake Louise. 

 Chateau Lake Louise from the back side of the lake

Chateau Lake Louise from the back side of the lake

 Giant rocks on the back side of Lake Louise, often with climbers

Giant rocks on the back side of Lake Louise, often with climbers

After traveling on the Lakeshore Trail from the chateau, traversing from good pavement, to crumbly pavement, to hard-packed gravel, and then to dirt (with sporadic roots and/or rocks thrown in for good measure). we reached  the opposite side of the lake, from which there looked to be an impassible trail -- very steep, with rocks and roots.

 Beginning of the Lake Louise Lakeside Trail

Beginning of the Lake Louise Lakeside Trail

 Trail conditions deteriorated about halfway down the trail

Trail conditions deteriorated about halfway down the trail

With the help of my two superpowers, we traversed up and over to the other side, which led us to a raised boardwalk across the beach and then to a horse trail (wide, hard-packed dirt, with tell-tale signs of horse presence). 

 On the boardwalk, heading towards the horse trail

On the boardwalk, heading towards the horse trail

 Headed towards the boardwalk

Headed towards the boardwalk

We went up this trail a bit, till we reached a mountain stream.  This was to be our turn-around point; although the trail continued to the a teahouse and beyond, it was not accessible -- much too narrow and full of roots.  So, we used it as a photo opportunity, then we headed back to the Chateau for a celebratory dinner and then to our campsite.

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Both of these hikes felt like real backcountry hikes, with amazing views, challenging conditions, few people. and many discoveries.  Neither would have been possible without my Freedom Chair or my husband.  So, as I said in the beginning, this is an expression of gratitude for both:  thank you for helping me to realize some outstanding experiences!