Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Blind man plans to hike Continental Divide Trail

Article first published as Blind Man Plans to Hike Continental Divide Trail to Complete Triple Crown of Hiking on Technorati.

Trevor Thomas is planning to hike the 3,100-mile Continental Divide Trail, from Canada to Mexico. No reason to think he can’t do it. After all, he’s already hiked the 2,181-mile Appalachian Trail and the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail.

If successful, Thomas will complete what is called the Triple Crown of long-distance hiking in the U.S., which is no small feat — even for someone with 20/20 vision.

But for somebody who can’t see the eye chart? Unfathomable. Which is why the story of Thomas and the Triple Crown of hiking is such a big deal, such an incredible story, such a huge story.

Thomas can't read the eye chart. Thomas is blind.

The 41-year-old from Charlotte, N.C., lost his eyesight to a rare disease in 2005, according to a story in Expedition News. Yet the extreme sports enthusiast isn’t allowing the loss of sight slow him down.

In 2008, he thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail solo, reportedly becoming the first blind person to do so unassisted. Last year, Thomas hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, mostly unassisted, except for places of deep snow and sections that were poorly marked.

Thomas told Expedition News that his main goal is to “increase societal awareness of blindness. It’s not a disability to keep you down.”

Thomas will begin his hike in June and be accompanied by three others who will assist him when needed.

“My teammates’ job is not to help me hike the trail,” Thomas told EN. “I intend to hike it, as would any sighted hiker. I do know, however, that there are some sections that I will need my partners’ assistance to get through.

“I am planning to hike solo for much of the trail as I did on the PCT.”

Thomas, who goes by the trail name of Zero/Zero, was inspired by the story of Erik Weihenmayer, who was 13 when he went blind from retinoschisis. According to the (highly recommended) January 2009 story called “Blind Faith” in Charlotte Magazine, Weihenmayer eventually climbed Mount Everest.

“If he could do that, there’s no excuse for me,” Trevor told Charlotte Magazine.

The in-depth feature details Thomas’ life without eyesight and how he navigated the Appalachian Trail. Take the time to read the story. You won’t be disappointed. A few excerpts:
“In the middle of my vision, nothing,” he says. It’s just gray.

His peripheral vision is not completely gone. He describes the few parts of his vision that still work as an overexposed picture. The colors are overblown and everything is stretched...

Zero isn’t so much hiking as he is hitchhiking. He follows. When there is nobody to follow, he sits and waits. In the Great Smoky Mountains, he waits for three days...

At another spot, Zero hears a voice. “Stop! Don’t go any further,” it says. It asks what he’s doing. Hiking, Zero replies. “If you hike and go more than ten feet straight, you’re going to die,” that voice says. It was another hiker, warning Zero that he’s about to walk off a cliff.
The story says it took Thomas six months to walk from Georgia to Maine, he encountered at least 30 bears and he fell close to 1,500 times.

Find out more about Thomas and his incredible adventure at Team Farsight.

Thanks, Sierra Trading Post.

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1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a good adventure for the man. I think he will conquer the slope.


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