Trust, determination and a TrailRider lead to breathtaking views

I’m staring up at the sky, completely vertical, as six people all get into position to lift me and an off-road wheelchair up a rock face that most people would hesitate to scale. The only thing that is going through my head is that I feel no fear and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, except right here, with these people, about to pull off this amazing trip. But let me back up.

My third adventure with Power To Be’s TrailRider was different from my previous trips up Mt. Finlayson and to Mystic Beach. We really wanted to go for broke. In talking with Carolyn Macdonald and Clay Webb, two of the amazing Power To Be staff who I’ve become close with, we decided on Forbidden Plateau and Cruikshank Canyon. This is an alpine hike with a bunch of elevation changes that many able bodied people shy away from – so of course it was right in our wheelhouse!

A trip this challenging meant that I needed to pull together a solid team. Thankfully I had worked with the staff at Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence (PISE) over the past two years and knew their staff would be up for the challenge. PISE does some amazing work in the community for people with disabilities and I specifically set out to recruit Jon Ritchot, who runs their Adapted Strength and Conditioning program and Kiersten McLeod who is also one of the Adapted Strength and Conditioning specialists. I lift with both and with their backgrounds as Athletic Therapists and deep knowledge of disabled athletes it was a match made in heaven. Along with Jon and Kiersten, our team was rounded out by my friend Dillon, a Power To Be volunteer Nick and our fearless leaders Carolyn and Clay.

Did I mention that this trip was ambitious? On Friday afternoon, we hiked into Lake Helen Mackenzie, which is approximately three kilometres from Raven Lodge near Mount Washington, and set up our base camp. The views alone on this stretch were breathtaking, but we had bigger goals and immediately started to game plan.

Cruikshank Canyon was the big game; it was a 20 km round trip and is a hike many people won’t do because of the terrain. But us? Some of the most persistent people you’ll meet who happen to have an off-road wheelchair? Bring it on!

“The real story of this trip was the accomplishment itself. It reaffirmed what I’ve always believed: “With the right people you can do anything.” - Program Participant

We set a turnaround time of 2 p.m., meaning if we weren’t at the canyon by then we’d turn around (something you have to do when you’re on an alpine trek). But having that deadline fired us up even more and made it real.

We set out at 7 a.m. and within the first 20 minutes were introduced to what we were going to be in for. This isn’t your run of the mill hike, there were elevation changes all over the place and times where I was eye level with Jon (who is 6’4) as we’re trying to figure out how to get me up, over or down the rocky terrain.

Now let me circle back to where I began, completely vertical, having to trust this group of six amazing people to get me over a rock face. That’s what made this trip so special. Unlike Mystic or Mount Finlayson, where the goal was to see how far I could push myself, this trip was about me putting complete and utter faith in a group of friends to get me to a place I realistically couldn’t have got to on my own. They did the hard work! The biggest challenge for me was making sure I could get ready in the morning. Not the easiest thing to do in the woods with poor balance but it doesn’t even compare.

We crushed it on our way up to the canyon, making it there by noon or so. Along the way it was absolutely amazing to watch how we worked as a team, navigating terrain that many people would back away from. Whether it was me calling out upcoming obstacles or the team coming together to power me up an incline or lifting me over a rock, the cohesiveness was unreal. The views from the canyon were breathtaking and are something I’ll always remember, but they were almost a side note.

The real story of this trip was the accomplishment itself and it’s something that didn’t hit each of us until we went our separate ways on Sunday. Within an hour of getting home we were all texting each other saying, “Did we just pull that off?” and “Do you realize what we just did?” This is a story about what you can do with the right team around you. It reaffirmed what I’ve always believed: “With the right people you can do anything.”

 – Story shared by Adam Bishop, program participant