by: Nerissa Cannon
One of the original Freedom Chair Trailblazers, Nerissa, now works as GRIT's Community Manager! Her own journey with chronic illness has made her very passionate about helping other people get the most out of life in spite of a disabling condition. In her new series, IT'S A GRIT LIFE, she shares how the GRIT Freedom Chair helps her engage in her favorite activities and live a life of adventure.
Accessible locations aren't always accessible for everyone. What's accessible for one person may not be accessible for someone else. Recently, I had the opportunity to go camping at several different places—a couple were classified as accessible and one was not.
First, I want to tell you about an incredible place called Wilderness on Wheels. They are located in Grant, CO. Not only do they feature accessible tent sites, huts, and cabins (I had the opportunity to stay in one of the cabins), but their crowned jewel is a one-mile long boardwalk. There is nothing like it anywhere else. It winds through Pike National Forest in such a way that you feel like you are deeply secluded in the back country. There are benches all along the way, as well as picnic areas, so you can take a full day to take a lazy stroll through the forest. It's truly an awe-inspiring route.
While Wilderness on Wheels focuses on accessibility, the variations in inclines and natural terrain made me very grateful to have my Freedom Chair. I did try some of the routes in my ultralight, and it just couldn't keep up with me and where I wanted to go. I had no limits in my Freedom Chair.
After I left Wilderness on Wheels, I went further north to Rocky Mountain National Park. I discovered that Sprague Lake had a special back-country site reserved for people with mobility limitations. I invited one of my Colorado friends and her service dog to go with me. You still have to haul all of your gear, and your water, half a mile in from the parking lot to your site. Thank goodness for my Freedom Chair! It had the balance and stability to get loaded with gear and still be able to tackle inclines, tree roots, and all kinds of things. My friend and I spent a couple of days at Sprague Lake, and I can't wait to go back. I highly recommend it if you have the right equipment to get you there.
Finally, my mom came to visit, and I really wanted to take her camping near where I live, so we went up to Cedar Breaks National Monument. I could have used one of their accessible sites, but there were no trees. Also, they were really small, and quite frankly, BORING. Instead, we chose a nice spacious site with trees and set up the tent in the shade. Usually, accessible sites are closer to the bathroom, but with the way this campground was set up, everything was equidistant from the bathroom. The only difference her was that the path leading from the accessible sites had been paved. With the Freedom Chair, though, I didn't have to worry about needing a paved path to get to the bathroom.
Overall, my experience with designated, accessible campsites has been positive, but I don't like to limit myself to strictly accessible sites—and with my Freedom Chair, I don't have to. I get to choose the site that looks the most fun for me. Different campsites will have different features, whether they are designated as "accessible" or not. That's why I always love to make sure my GRIT Freedom Chair is with me on my camping trips. It allows me to tackle unknown situations with confidence.