Hikers Summiting Peaks with their Wheelchairs

Today, we are joined by two outdoor enthusiasts and avid hikers, Chris Layne and Daniel Wilson. Both Chris and Daniel are wheelchair users. They work with support teams and use specialized equipment to hike trails that are anything but wheelchair accessible. Chris has hiked up Mt. Elbert, the highest peak in the Colorado Rockies. It’s over 14,000 feet. Daniel has traversed rugged trails in the Lake District National Park in Cumbria, England, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Chris acquired her disability after a fall while hiking in her home state of Colorado in 2016, when a spinal cord injury left her paralyzed from the chest down. She went on to win the Ms. Wheelchair Colorado title in 2020, and she is both an active athlete and advocate for accessibility and inclusion in the outdoors and everywhere else.

Daniel became paralyzed after complications from spinal surgery following a fall down an escalator. After recovering, he became active in the British charity organization Sportability, which supports paralyzed athletes’ participation in sports – from archery and quad biking, to tennis and flying light aircraft. Now an experienced adaptive hiker, he competed in the Race The Sun fundraiser in the Lake District National Park.

We recorded our interview with Chris and Daniel in March, as Daniel was preparing to hike the West Highland Way trail in Scotland. Just this week, Daniel successfully completed that trail, along with ten support volunteers from around the world. Daniel is the first person in a wheelchair known to have successfully completed this historic 96-mile trail. He made the trek as a fundraiser for BackUp, a UK organization supporting people with spinal cord injuries.