PNP Blogger, Nick Struthers, along with some adventurous wheelchair users joined the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) Park Rangers and Landscape Architects who hosted two free "Hike and Lunch" sessions on Sept. 26 and 28.The GGNRA was seeking feedback from the disabled community for their Trail Access Guides. Nick blogs about how the day went and you can also check out the YouTube Video where Nick also interviews some of the participants.
I don't think I'd ever arrived in Pacifica where there were clear blue skies but today was the exception. Noon temperatures were forecast to be in the high 80's which is rare for this part of the world. I parked in the Moose Lodge which was going to be our post hike lunch venue and I then made my way to the trailhead where the GGNRA representatives were set up. Richard De La O, the main coordinator, introduced himself as I registered and offered me sunscreen and water which were both necessary. I then met Kelly Robinson, who is part of Richard's team, as she is the Accessibility Specialist working on the Mori Point Project.
Richard giving the introduction
It was good to see some familiar faces taking part in the hike. Kevin Lee, a fellow SCVMC SCI Peer Supporter, Bonnie Lewkowicz (Director of Access Northern California), Ashley Olson (Founder of wheelchairtravelling.com) and Nhan whom I met at "Day on The Beach." I was also introduced to Lori Grey who works for BORP, Karah, a student in Monterey County and Mark who had a handy camera set up to his power chair. After a brief introduction, Richard explained we would spend the next hour enjoying the trails and then return to the lodge for some lunch before providing feedback on the Trail Developments and signage. Jeff, a representative of the Whill powered wheelchair organization was there to monitor how Ashley would make use of the Whill to negotiate even more challenging trails.
Wheelchair users: Bonnie, Lori, Nhan, Karah and Ashley
The YouTube Video gives a good flavor of the fantastic ocean side views enjoyed at the end of the trail as well as what can be possible with Ashley using "Whill" power to scale a significantly steeper trail overlooking the point.
Wheelchair users: Mark, Bonnie, Nhan, Lori, Karah and Kevin
During lunch, Richard explained that over 10 years ago, his manager "invited" him to start an initiative to develop trails which were accessible for wheelchair users. With no additional funds available, Richard's team is now the leader for the National Park Service for wheelchair access and helps educate the rest of the National Park Service on best practices for establishing accessible trails.
The New Signage
As Kevin pointed out in the YouTube interview after the meeting, there were as many landscape architects there working for the GGNRA as there were people in chairs which demonstrates their commitment to the project. Thank you to the GGNRA for such an enjoyable day and I'm sure the GGNRA wants to thank the participants for such valuable feedback.
Kevin and Karah
I'll leave you with a quote from Karah after completing both the trails in her manual wheelchair, "It was not too hard and not too easy, I loved it!"