A construction accident left Bob Alexander paralyzed from the waist down. “I was very active, I did sledding, I did football and baseball,” he said.
But Alexander was determined not to let his disability slow him down, but getting outdoors was a problem.
“One you get into a chair, there’s not as many opportunities to get out into the wilderness,” said Alexander.
That’s where Wilderness On Wheels comes in. The program began 21 years ago. More than a mile of boardwalk winds through the Pike National Forest on the north side of Kenosha Pass. It is near Grant.
That mile of special trail offers freedom to people like Alexander. “It’s just the independence that you get when you can actually go somewhere without anyone helping you. They don’t have to push me, they don’t have to get me up a curb cut, they don’t have to get me upstairs.”
Wilderness On Wheels is a favorite destination for the residents of the Cedars Healthcare Center in Lakewood.
“It gives them the opportunity to get out in the countryside,” said Joy Young, a registered nurse with the center. “Even though they’re in a wheelchair and normally wouldn’t be able to go over the bumps, the stones and the grass that’s in our beautiful Colorado country.”
Roger West began building Wilderness On Wheels in 1986. Now the help of volunteers, donated materials and financial support, improvements are still being added to the trail.
Those improvements include a number of tent platforms. “We have now enclosed a number of them and created what we call a caista or a permanent tent, ” West said. “You don’t have to bring a tent, bring a sleeping bag and go insider here, close the door and good night.”
For Alexander and his other trail users, Wilderness On Wheels provides a physical challenge well worth taking. “You’re high enough you can touch the clouds some days. It’s a great place for your peace of mind.”
- For more information, visit www.wildernessonwheels.org.