Always Prepared: Facing the Trail

Every so often we hear a story that reminds us how blessed we are to live in a gorgeous world of lakeside adventures, cascading mountain waterfalls, and stunning fall colors. We enjoy easy access to hiking trails in the Nantahala National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains National Forest. Whether we’re hunting for adventure, a crackling campfire, or a lazy fishing trip on the lake, the next great exploration is just beyond our backyard. But for some reaching that life affirming fresh air isn’t so easy. Hiking aficionado Trevor Thomas has explored trails from North Carolina all the way to Colorado. But what’s truly remarkable is that this hiker didn’t start conquering the mountains until he went blind in 2006.

A Helping Hand

boy scoutThomas has faced his share of troubles, but he’s also succeeded beyond anyone’s dreams. Balancing his desire to blaze new trails with the necessity of hiking safely, he has become an inspiration for hikers everywhere. Thomas is the first blind person in history to hike the Appalachian trail from Georgia to Maine without assistance. And people are taking notice. A Boy Scout Troop in Massachusetts approached Thomas about partnering for the blind ambassador program. With Thomas’s skill and knowledge and the boys’ willingness to help, Scoutmaster Fred Rossi hopes to unfold the vast world of hiking to the vision-impaired.

Learning a New Way

The key is to provide hiking assistance without infringing on the hiker’s adventure. The scouts worked with Thomas and several other blind athletes to develop awareness about the trials and tribulations faced by the sight impaired. The boys learned when to give aid, when to call a warning, and when to step back and let the hikers tackle the mountain alone. Thanks to these compassionate individuals, the crisp mountain air and natural challenges of the hiking trail are available to anyone gearing up for an outdoor adventure.

photo from flickr

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