I swear I think I'm a wheelchair trailblazer. I hiked a mountain trail in Switzerland, jogged through Paris, went to the top of the Alps, and walked the entire cities of London and New York. I even used my chair to "ski" the snowy parking lot in Racine Wisconsin. Nothing, however, prepared me for the mountain climbing excursion to which I was invited by a group of firefighters in British Columbia. What I thought would be a leisurely stroll around their stunning lake turned into a 5 hour climbing excursion where my partners acted as a Sherpa team pulling me in a special chair equipped for this activity.
First, the views from the hilltops of Kelowna rank among some of the best I've ever witnessed. As I looked around though, and realized I'd actually gone up and down those mountains, I was pretty blown away. Second, I was enthralled by the teamwork it took to move our party through the hills. It was pretty intense and involved people doing their jobs with my body hanging over the edge of long drops. It sounds dangerous, but I never felt unsafe for 1 second. Third, this was their Thanksgiving Saturday. For them to give that up to come provide me this experience was pretty special. And this is what they do. They take disabled folk on hiking and kayaking trips all summer just to be nice. They were awesome people. Their reward? As we arrived back at the firehouse, the alarm went off and they had to respond to a large structure fire in their hiking clothes. No one groused or complained; they did their jobs like pros. I tip my hat to these young friends.