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Into the Outdoors: Ways The Severely Handicapped Can Enjoy the Outdoors

Last week’s column, which dealt with alternative outdoor activities, brought about a fair amount of positive feedback.  One of those asked the question of what someone severely handicapped could do to enjoy the great outdoors. I did some digging and some thinking, and came up with a few things.  

There are a number of accommodations that have been established to accommodate the handicapped. One of these is fishing piers, which allow easy access for wheelchairs.  For years, I fished with the late Ken Crawford, who was wheelchair bound. The fishing pier at lock and dam number nine on the Allegheny, makes access easy.  You can even drive onto the pier.  On many occasions, I have seen handicapped folks fishing from there and having a good time. Harbor Acres Lake is also fishable by someone in a wheelchair.

A note of caution is in order here. The fact is that many handicapped individuals spend a lot of their time indoors. This means that they need to be especially careful out in the sun.  Application of a good sunscreen is an absolute necessity. I have made mention many times about magnet fishing.  This is a great activity for a wheelchair bound person to enjoy the outdoors.  Docks, fishing piers and flat shorelines are all accessible. There is real excitement in wondering what, if anything, you are going to catch. There is a lot of metal found in the water. Once again, I feel the need to state that this is not for those with pacemakers or other medical devices.  The powerful magnets can wreak total havoc with these.  Fortunately, there is the grappling hook. You do tend to get hung up more often, but you can also get some interesting catches.

Perhaps you know an individual with a disability. It would be a wonderful gesture on your part to help them participate in outdoor activities. You would be doing a good thing, and might make some great new friends in the process.

With trout season just around the corner, I find myself in a different situation from years gone by.  I have developed cataracts, which are to be removed on April 5th and 13th. Until that is done, I know that I could never tie on a hook, as my closeup vision has been affected.  Ordinarily, I would count on Old Bub to give me some trout, but, sadly, he is having issues of his own.  Hopefully, there will still be some trout left once we can fish.

Signs of spring are really starting to show up, despite the weird weather patterns we have been having. The robins have arrived back, and that is traditionally the number one sign of Spring. My son saw a groundhog the other day, and it had actually not been run over, but was very much alive. Of course, we have had a multitude of visitors at the backyard bird feeders.  Of course, they will have to be taken down soon. As yet, they have not been visited by any bears, but I know that it is just a matter of time. They certainly know how to do a number on bird feeders.Perhaps the greatest thing about this time of year is anticipation.  After the gloom of winter, we can finally look forward to the beauties and new life of spring and summer.

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