When my son Benzo was but a sprout, he and I used to go up to Acadia National Park every summer to spend a weekend camping, hiking, and exploring (all before I was disabled). We both quickly fell in love with Mt. Desert Island and our weekends together became the high point in our summer. But when he started high school, he started working during the summer, and the tradition fell by the wayside. When he entered University, he spent every summer working for the Randolph Mountain Club, helping to develop and maintain the trail system in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. And as my disability increased, it felt like we’d lost something very special to both of us.
Five or six years ago he suggested we go back and revisit all of our old haunts. We knew it would have to be different (a motel instead of a tent, no hiking together, etc.) and while it was great fun to be together again on Mt. Desert, it was disappointing that we could not hike or camp.
So it was with great excitement that I registered us for a weekend event sponsored by Northeast Passage, a privately funded program of the University of New Hampshire that sponsors adaptive sports programs throughout New England. They’d hauled a trailer full of hand cycles and recumbent bikes down to the park, and set up shop at the beginning of the carriage road, a network of easy hiking and biking trails. They put me on a Top End Excelerator hand bike while Benzo got to ride a recumbent bike (he looked a lot cooler than the guy on their web site). Even though it was a very short ride (I was using muscles that I had not used for a long time, and my endurance is not high anyway), it was a huge treat to be back out on the trail with Benzo, a place I had not been in many years.
That quick hour on the trail together was well worth the hours spent in the car to and from, and the time we spent together over the weekend was priceless. As Benzo pointed out, it was a very good use of my supply of spoons. As I write this, several days after our return, I am still paying for it with aches and pains. But he and I have already committed to each other to go back again next summer, and to keep an eye out for any other biking events put on by Northeast passage.
(And I’ve added this to my fantasy wish list.)