Adam Bishop shares how it feels to reach the top of Mount Finlayson

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For as long as I can remember I’ve been fiercely independent, but it all started with my folks. I was born three months premature and as a result have Cerebral Palsy. Doctors and Specialists weren’t sure what type of life I’d have, but over time they figured that if I worked hard I’d be able to live independently, walk around my own place unassisted, walk with crutches and use a wheelchair at work. I was blessed with parents who decided that I was no different than anyone else and that the prognosis I received was the floor, not the ceiling. So the work began.

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From Day 1 I was taught that I could do anything my friends could do. Sports? My dad threw me into wheelchair basketball when I was 5 and I fell in love, playing high performance Ball until I went to University. He taught me how to shoot and stop a puck, throw a spiral, a fastball and tackle, how to sit-ski, drive a snowmobile, drive a boat, fish, drive and work on a car. My mom made sure growing up to be independent wasn’t a wish, it was the expectation.

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As I got older I realized I was different than everyone else but that I wouldn’t have it any other way. As my friends started to hit the gym hard, I joined on in. As time went on and my friends began to get involved in more outdoor physical activities it felt like I’d hit a wall and finally found something I couldn’t do. I loved to be active, but as my friends moved from the gym to the mountain or the backwoods, I thought I couldn’t follow. I’d see the pictures of the views, the water and the beach and it felt like a world away. I have 3 close friends who are up for anything and can get me literally anywhere, unfortunately they now live in different parts of the country and without them I didn’t think I’d ever get up a mountain or go on a hike.

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Thanks to a good friend a couple of years ago, I started doing some committee work for Power To Be. At that point he asked me if I’d be interested in going up Finlayson. It was probably the easiest pitch he ever had to make. The conversation went something like this: “You can do that? I’m in!” I got some friends together, I hopped in a trail rider (think a big off-road wheelchair, pushed by 3 – 5 of your closest friends) and we hoofed it up the mountain. The teamwork was amazing. Being independent I like control, so trusting someone else to take me off some big drops and up a mountain was something new. But it was worth it! As we got close to the summit, I hopped out and hiked up with the group to take in the views.

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….And man were those views fantastic! Going into the day, I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal (remember, I’ve never met a challenge I couldn’t blow to pieces). I figured it’d be great to be outside on a beautiful day; we’d see some views and go home. I didn’t realize how much standing on top of that mountain meant to me, especially being able to physically hike the last stretch. Being up there, I felt like I was on top of the world and conquered the one thing I didn’t think I could do….I wanted to scream, I definitely had to take a second sitting by myself to take it all in.

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It’s made me want to do more, to the point where I hope to do part of the West Coast Trail next year. To Jay, Carolyn and everyone else that was involved, thank you, you reaffirmed that I can do anything I want as long as I work. Those views are something I’ll never forget and I look forward to more adventures in the future!

[Written by Adam Bishop]