By Grayson Sorrels
“Everybody needs beauty as well as
bread, places to play in and pray in,
where nature may heal and give strength
to body and soul.” John Muir
Michael Muir, great grandson of John Muir has lived with multiple sclerosis since he was 15 years old. Refusing to be daunted by the relentless course of his disease, Muir believes in challenging the limits of disability. In 2001, he led an international team of people with disabilities, driving wheelchair accessible, horse drawn carriages on a 3,000 mile, ten-month journey across America to Washington DC. The extraordinary experiences of that journey have led to the founding of the non profit group ACCESS ADVENTURE.
The group enriches the lives of people with disabilities and under-served youth by providing outdoor recreation, environmental education and open space access, using unique wheelchair accessible, horse drawn carriages.
Muir brought his group with volunteers to Lassen county in June. The clip clop of horse’s hooves blended with laughter as 45 campers from Camp Ronald McDonald were taken on wagon rides through the pine scented forest near Eagle Lake. Two carriages, one an Amish built Thorn lea carriage with a solar/battery powered lift accommodated wheel chairs and seated riders. One part of the group’s program is to offer such multi-day accessible camping trips to remote, scenic locations throughout California.
While in Lassen County, Access Adventure volunteers enjoyed camping near Papoose Meadow for two days. Local author and historian Richard Surrill informed and entertained the group with stories and songs around the camp fire. They also enjoyed Goumaz Campground and two days of driving on the Bizz Johnson Trail. Negotiating the steep, narrow section of trail beneath the Highway 36 bridge provided a scene right out of the old west, as the able bodied riders walked up the hill to save the horses.
Michael Muir drives the team and provides inspiration for all. In 2001 he spent ten months on a carriage ride that took him to Washington D.C. His message, “Just because you are disabled your life doesn’t have to be over.” He is fond of saying, ” The worst disability is a bad attitude.” He shares his passion for horses and the outdoors with the disabled community and others fortunate enough to know him.
Other components of his program involve youth and disabled carriage driving training, a horse breeding program to supply stock for Access Adventure and raise funds for the non profit organization and outdoor education. Access Adventure has teamed with Solano Land Trust and has its headquarters on Grizzly Island Road near the Suisun Marsh at an historic stock and grain ranch.
Access Adventure events are free to people with disabilities or mobility challenges. Volunteers are welcome as are donations to the program. See the website’s special events calendar for upcoming events and additional information at www.access-adventure.org.
Photos Courtesy of www.access-adventure.org.