provided by John Phillips
I first met Mossy Oak Pro Ashlee Lundvall of Cody, Wyoming, 5 years ago. “I’d like to become an outdoor writer and work in the outdoors,” Lundvall told me then. Her dream certainly has come true. In that short time, she’s won the Pathfinder Award presented by Safari Club International (SCI) and a hunting trip for her family and herself to Africa. Lundvall also has been appointed to the President’s Council for Sports, Fitness and Nutrition along with well-known outstanding athletes, movie stars and coaches. She’s been asked to become a brand advisor for a silencer/suppressor company and serves on two National Rifle Association (NRA) committees – the Outreach Committee and the Disabled Shooting Sports Committee. She writes for “Women in the Outdoors,” “Able Outdoors” and several other publications. She’s now training for archery competitions to qualify for the Paralympic Games either in 2022 or 2024.
There are two types of people with disabilities: the people who currently have disabilities and the people who will have disabilities as they grow older. So, I think beginning to learn how to adapt and be able to continue to live the outdoor lifestyle is important. I love to fish. With my Action Trackchair, I can get to the creek bank where I want to fish and then pull out in the water to get to those hard-to-reach spots I’m unable to reach from the bank. But a manual wheelchair does present some hazards. Rivers, lakes and streams have numerous river rocks along their edges. Or, they may have steep banks, which makes getting down to the water difficult for someone in a traditional wheelchair. I can use my Trackchair to stand up and fly fish or sit down and fish. With my disability, I can use a fly rod to cast for trout or use spinning tackle. I also have information on other adaptive equipment that can help people with disabilities to cast and retrieve lures. The Be Adaptive Company offers some fishing equipment.
I like to kayak too. When someone asks me how I’m able to kayak, the first thing I recommend is to be sure you pick the right type of kayak. I don’t recommend the whitewater kinds of kayaks where you have to be strapped in, because they’re difficult for you to get in and out of and if you flip the kayak over, you may have some serious problems getting out of this kind of kayak. I have an Old Town Vapor open-fishing kayak that allows me to slide into and out of it easily. If it tips over, I can just slide out of it, since I’m not tied in or blocked. This kayak also gives me plenty of room to sit and have my fishing gear with me.
You need to be smart about getting in and out of a kayak. The U.S. Forest Service here in Wyoming where I live just built an accessible kayak mount on one of our local lakes. This ramp enables me to get in and out of my kayak and launch my kayak by myself. I’ve never been able to do this task by myself until this past summer. So, search for a boat ramp where you can get in and out of your kayak easily.
If you’re planning to fish or kayak, choosing the best life jacket also is very important. Wearing a life jacket for safety is very important, and if you have a sturdy life jacket, your caregiver can use the top straps of the jacket to help you get in and out of the kayak and adjust how and where you sit. So, choose a life jacket with very strong straps that will hold your weight.
I enjoy hiking with my young daughter, and I use my Action Trackchair to hike anywhere she wants to hike. My Trackchair enables me to go to places I never would have been able to access before. Before I got my chair, my husband would carry me on his back. I’m 6’2”. (I was a basketball player in high school). I always was afraid that my husband Rush would get hurt while helping me go into the woods and waters on his back. With my Trackchair I can go off-trail, over rough terrain, through snow, mud and water – something I’d never been able to do in my manual wheelchair.
More and more national forests are paving hiking trails, so that people with manual wheelchairs can hike with their families. Some even have Trackchairs that people with disabilities can rent for the day of hiking. There’s a Colorado park program that offers rentals of track chairs.