Sunday, September 12, 2010

TrailRider Expeditions

Perhaps you remember our efforts with some engineering friends to develop a CarryChair last year, something that could get Brooke outside, into the mountains he’s always loved. That project got interrupted by winter, and in the meantime we discovered something developed by the Canadian organization British Columbia Mobility Opportunities Society, a marvelous construction called the TrailRider, designed specifically for people with conditions like Brooke’s. It was designed we understand by the former major of Vancouver, himself a quadriplegic; you can read the history and, better still, see astonishing pictures of extreme treks at Basically, it’s conveyance that holds a person in a semi-reclining position, balanced over one thick wheel and pulled/pushed by two strong people, known as sherpas, front and back. It can travel over fairly steep mountain trails with rocks, roots, and other obstacles in the way. The website tells us that the TrailRider has taken people to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro and to the base camp at Mt. Everest. Our ambitions have been a little less heroic, at least at this point—though they seem heroic to us.

Our first excursion took place a couple of months ago: we went up and down the corridors inside South Davis. Then the TrailRider sat in the corner for another couple of months, while Brooke was having his hard summer of various setbacks. Then two weeks ago we went around the parking lot at South Davis—this time, we were out of doors. Then last week we traveled in the van to a park in the mountainside canyons here in Bountiful, Mueller Park, about ten minutes from the hospital. Last week’s expedition involved getting out of the van, into the TrailRider, then traveling uphill through some paved parking lots and onto an old dirt road, for about a quarter of a mile. It was a huge success, capped by an elegant picnic with smoked salmon, tomatoes with mozzarella, spectacular cheese sent directly from France by a New York friend of Brooke’s, and a special beer. You’ll see pictures attached from both these trips, with more to come. And then today, the third expedition, involved traveling up the main hiking trail at Mueller Park—Shaun Wheeler as the sherpa in the front, Ed Fisher as the sherpa in the back, with Julia carrying the portable suction kit and the stethoscope and the SAT monitor, Michelle Fisher with food and the leash for their very active dog, and Peggy surveying this expedition with extraordinary satisfaction. Up the trail, through the evergreens, into scrub oak and aspens with just the first early blush of fall color—we went almost a mile up to a viewpoint, where you can see out east further up the canyon, into the Sessions mountains, or west out over the entire plain with the Salt Lake and Antelope Island in the distance. Brooke admired the views and the foliage and the open sky, but even more the three raptors soaring in the currents above the canyon.

Later that evening, after this wonderful trip and the visit of an extraordinary new physical therapist who was able to get him to sit upright on the edge of the bed, unsupported for two or three long, long seconds, he said something that would be ordinary for anyone else, but remarkable for him. I feel so energized.

Meanwhile, Brooke is getting ready to teach his first class on Walden, beginning next week. We’re planning to couple this with an overnight home visit, and hope that each week the home visits will get longer—first one night, then the following week two nights, and so on. You can see where we hope we’re going.


Lorraine Seal said...

Brooke looks great in these pictures. Thanks for posting them. It seems like wonderful progress -- sitting on the edge of the bed, getting out in the mountains. No wonder he feels energized.

We're enjoying a week's holiday in Prague, which is wonderful, of course. It's great living in this part of the world.


Anonymous said...

all of that is so cool!