Magical Experience

Tiffany TuellDecember 13, 2012 

Even with the mist turning into rain, nothing could stop this group of daring adventurers from making their way through the forest to the zipline through the trees -- not even their wheelchairs. They made their way up a dirt road and onto a trail through the woods and to the base of the first zipline platform with a little help from Zip Yosemite guides. When they all arrived at the platform, the guides piggy-backed the zipliners up the stairs, hooked them into the harness and off they flew.

"It was childlike magic," said zipliner Ashley Lyn Olson. "I love trees and would climb them all the time when I was a child but can't now, obviously, so there are no words to describe being back up in the branches."

The four -- Olson, Steven Sanchez, Charlene Vine, and Bill Harrison -- offered to be Zip Yosemite's first wheelchair trial run. Harrison saw an online ad for Zip Yosemite and contacted Olson, who has the website wheelchairtraveling.com, about the possibility of ziplining. Olson made some phone calls and soon had the adventure lined up.

Although Harrison said he wouldn't call it "wheelchair accessible," he said the guides were a big help in accommodating them and making it possible.

"It was a lot of fun and definitely an experience," Harrison said. "I've never done something like that before. The storm added a little fear factor to it because the wind was blowing the trees back and forth so it was a little scary, but that also made it more exciting."

Zipline guide Tamie Taylor said they were able to make four of the six ziplines accessible and are hoping to have Olson come back to try out number six -- the fastest line -- another time. Taylor said the experience worked out nicely and they were able to receive positive feedback for the future. She said hope to open the course up to handicap people a few times a year in the future.

"I was so impressed and almost moved to tears at the willingness and strength these guys (guides) had," Olson said. "They were all so sweet and seemed to be having a nice time too."

Olson, who travels around the country and the world going adventures for her website, does so to share inform to others on the best places that are accommodating to those in wheelchairs.

"I want to experience life (the world), but I never got the whole story on access when researching online or speaking to someone over the phone. So, I took matters into my owns hands and started to document everything," said Olson, who was paralyzed at age 14. "I want to have as many destinations and activities covered from all over the world that I possibly can in my lifetime."

Although always traveling, Olson says she never imagined she'd be adding ziplining to one of the activities on her website.

"This website has opened me up to test my own limits," Olson said. "I love adventure though, I always have. When I travel, I'm ... wondering what's around the bend and always open and willing to face detours."

Details: www.zipyosemite.com and www.wheelchairtraveling.com

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