Adaptive Outdoors: Cecile Buhl takes to the Mountains
The last two outdoor experiences I had were very different from each other. The first was one of speed and freedom while the second was one of wondrous beauty. My first adventure brought me to Grassy Lakes in Canmore. I was going to try a piece of new adaptive equipment. It was a rainy cool day and it looked as though we were socked in. My team for the day Jamie from Rocky Mountain Adaptive Sports Centre ( RMASC ) and Sonya, a friend and Sherpa, suggested that we go for coffee and a pastry while we see if the rain would blow through. Luckily, it did. I was very determined to use this equipment and would have been extremely disappointed to go home without following through. We went back to the site and prepared to go uphill to Grassy Lake. We went up at a good pace, but the real speed would be coming back to the parking lot.
The 3 wheeled Park Explorer was a nice change from the Trailrider because it gave me the chance to navigate and move around some of the objects that normally I would have to roll over. The trail was wide and relatively bump free, perfect for the Park Explorer. As we got to the top we enjoyed the clear still “lake” – more like a pool – for a few moments. It was sunny and warm now so we took it all in. Now was the time I was waiting for. I wanted to ride down the hill as fast as I could. As we started, I had to feel how the equipment would move, but it didn’t take me long to feel assured. The breaks were solid and that was all I cared about at this moment. I started to roll and Jamie was guiding me at first, but soon I was travelling too fast for him to keep up and I was on my own. He was not far, just in case I got into trouble. I did slow down eventually because my caution overtook my need for speed. I was hooting and hollering having a great time. Needless to say, the parking lot came up far too fast, and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. It seemed the people watching had the same reaction.
My second adventure was not as adrenaline pumped as the first, but it still brought out a lot of emotion. Three participants and a whole lot of volunteers, guiding a Trailrider, were going to make the trek to Larch Valley in Lake Louise. We left from Moraine Lake lodge and started our ascent that would eventually level out to the valley. It was a cold day for me, but had on a lot of layers and was settled in sleeping- bag- like – sleeve set up for the Trailrider. After a short safety lesson, we took our group photos and were off. It took us a good two hours to get to the lunch spot. The sights were amazing and even though the larches had lost most of their needles by now it was nonetheless spectacular. I had no idea the larches were so dense in this valley.
We spent our lunch sitting in an alpine meadow looking at the valley with the snow-covered mountains along the horizon. Between one of the high valleys perched a glacier with a clear blue hue that showed how dense and cold it was. We continued to a windswept plain with stunted trees and pelting ice rain as we trekked to the lake at the base of one of the mountain ranges. I would have taken it all in had I not been pelted and blinded by the ice flying into my eyes. But, it was worth it! As we turned and shot our final group picture at our destination we all cheered and sat in wonder again of what was around us. It was truly a spectacular day even through the snow, cool temperatures, and a cold I had earlier contracted. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.