Colorado hikers, one blind and one in a wheelchair, use their strengths to help each other climb mountains

Trevor Hahn has been legally blind since he was born. He suffers from macular degeneration, iritis and glaucoma.

“Ten years ago, I could drive a car. Five years ago, it went downhill and I could only see light after that,” Hahn said. “I can only see light now. No shapes, really.”

He learned how to hike using adaptive techniques like following the sound of bells or with voice commands from his hiking partners. That’s how he climbed the 17,575-foot summit of Gokyo Ri mountain in Nepal.

In summer 2018, Hahn and his wife Mandy attended a function with No Barriers USA, a non-profit based in Fort Collins, CO, which helps people with disabilities do adaptive sports and other activities. That’s where they met Melanie Knecht.

“He was telling me just about how he’s been guided up mountains like using a voice system and I’m like, ‘Well, I have a voice,'” Knecht said. Knecht was born with spina bifida. She uses a wheelchair to get around and has never had the ability to walk.

Their friendship blossomed and they came up with an idea they call “Hiking with Sight.”

They got a specially designed harness that Knecht can sit in. Hahn wears the harness like a backpack. It gives Knecht the ability to see over Hahn’s shoulders to guide him on the trail. In return, Hahn carries Knecht to parts of the trail otherwise inaccessible to her. “We both serve a purpose on the trail and a huge responsibility to each other,” Hahn said.

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