Photo shows tan bluffs in the background under a deep sky and a lake in the midground, and in foreground, in a brown grassy area with a path, shows a number of people. Two women stand and interact with other folks. A man with a prosthetic leg carrying a backpack stands on a rock, and in the foreground, two women in wheelchairs, one power wheelchair, one mountain chair, look on.

Exploring Arizona

LivAbility Magazine

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Exploring Arizona 

Community partners team up for trails program 

Story by Summer Sorg
Photos by Summer Sorg

In search of Arizona’s beautiful scenery and accessible trails, Exploring Arizona hit the road in May to hike Peavine Trail outside of Prescott.

This was the fourth hike in the Exploring Arizona adaptive hiking series, created by the partnership between Ability360, Daring Adventures, the Arizona Spinal Cord Injury Foundation and Barrow Neurological Institute


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The first hike was at the Mogollon Rim. Elizabeth Moreno, a volunteer and employee at Barrow Neurological Institute, said they chose autumn so the group could chase fall colors.

Daring Adventures employee Sarah Lindvay explains that the trips are designed to allow people with disabilities to expand their horizons through exploring different parts of Arizona.                                                        

“With these hikes, they get to go new places, meet new people, try new equipment and learn about different resources they could use in their community,” she said.

Making these outings successful takes collaboration between the organizations including background research on all locations to confirm accessibility.

A good location would be nature-immersive but also have a relatively smooth and wide trail, accessible restrooms, picnic areas and accessible parking. Equipment, such as the Mountain Trike, various off-road chairs and safari chairs are provided by Daring Adventures and Ability360. A sighted guide is provided for hikers who may have visual disabilities.

“It’s great that people with all different ability levels are able to come out here and participate and be as independent as they can be,” Moreno said. “And it’s great to get such a diverse group together, hear their stories and enjoy nature.”

Participant, Ralph Sweeden, said he became involved in the program after Moreno informed him of the hikes. The Peavine Trail was his second excursion with Exploring Arizona.

“Before, I was at home, and when my family asked me what I was doing, I was doing chores around the house,” Sweeden said. “Now I’ve been hiking, bike riding, rock climbing, taking yoga classes and golfing.”

Sweeden has Radiation Myelopathy that resulted when radiation treatment for cancer injured the nerves in his spine. He also lives with Muscular Dystrophy and uses a wheelchair.

“It’s amazing what’s out here and I didn’t know it,” he said.

Numerous possibilities exist for people with disabilities to enjoy recreational activities. That is what the organizations are working together to show the community.

Kristen Klenk, a long-time hiker, but first-time Exploring Arizona participant, heard of the hike through Daring Adventures. 

Klenk lives with cerebral palsy and walks with the help of a rolling walker. She enjoyed having the opportunity to try out the safari chair, but preferred to walk along the trail.

“This is the farthest I’ve ever walked. I really pushed myself,” Klenk said. “I’ll definitely come back in the fall.”

The series pauses for summer and starts again in the fall. The new hiking location and start-up date is still to be determined. To learn more, contact the staff at Ability360 or Daring Adventures:

Nick Pryor, program coordinator at the Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center 

nickp@ability360.org

Sarah Lindvay, program coordinator at Daring Adventures

sarah@daring-adventures.org



Summer Sorg
Writer

Summer Sorg is a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication specializing in photography and digital journalism. Her heart lies in storytelling, nature and exploring. Summer plans to use her talents to highlight important issues and inspire people to care.