I soft launched a new project on the Equinox, Disabled Hikers: Real Information, by Disabled Hikers for Disabled Hikers. I am creating hiking guides with information that I need as a disabled person to decide whether to attempt a trail or not.
I get so frustrated with having to scour guidebooks and online articles to determine whether I should attempt a trail or not. My frustration peaked two weeks ago, when after several days of not feeling well I finally managed to pull myself from the house and go out for a short trip. After visiting a familiar trail, I decided to try another one that I had read about, and had completed another segment of. Well, it was far more difficult for my weary body than the guides had indicated. There were steep stairs that weren’t mentioned, a few very slick and narrow slopes, and other problems.
Inspiration struck. Why don’t I combine my love of hiking and the outdoors, with my dedication to activism and subverting ableism, with my writing skills? Why don’t I create the thing that I wish existed, as I so often have? I could create my own hiking guides!
So I went home and created a website. In my excitement, I posted the link on my Facebook page to share with friends, and suddenly it was being shared 50 times! And then Autostraddle included it in a link roundup, and my barely-there blog was receiving hundreds of visits. That was followed by some shares from my personal blog, which also received hundreds of visits.
The response continues to be overwhelmingly positive, and I am very honored and admittedly a little surprised. I knew this was a need but I didn’t realize how much of a need. There are many people out there doing good work around accessibility and the outdoors, and I plan to feature as much of their work as I can, but for now my focus is on building the website, creating hiking guides, and spreading the word.
DisabledHikers.com now exists, and the first guide is up, with several more currently being written. It is a hefty task – each hike, when taken with the perspective of writing a guide, takes twice as long as usual. The guide takes at least 3 hours to research, write, and edit, and an additional 1-2 hours to format, edit photos, and post on the website. Then I spend several hours promoting the site so people know about the resource. All in all, I spend at least 10 hours publishing each guide.
I’m sharing this with you only because I think there is not enough transparency about the time it takes for people to put together projects and offer them to the community. The time I spend on this is time that I do not get to spend on other paying projects and opportunities. I offer this from my heart, in service to the community, because it is something that I want to exist. And yet, as a disabled person myself, I have to be honest about my abilities and resources and their limitations.
My plan for the website includes adding hikers and guides from other areas, additional resource and technical guides, a range of media offerings, and a community forum. I’ll be making print copies of the guides to give to organizations, and eventually publish a guidebook. I’m excited about the project and the possibilities.
If you want to help, you can do that by spreading the word and sharing the website, sending me links to people and groups who might be interested in the project or in speaking with me about it, or by contributing to my Patreon.
I hope this project provides a valuable resource to disabled hikers and disabled would be hikers. While nature is not a cure-all, my time in the outdoors has been profoundly healing, has helped me regain my confidence, and given me a home that I can always return to. I want to give that opportunity to as many people as I can, both for themselves and for the places they will come to love.