Winter is a difficult time for anyone confined to a wheelchair. Chances are if the person was active before they became disabled they spent much of their time in the winter in the out of doors. The winter season has been the most difficult period of adjustment for me. I taught at school that was just below the Tug Hill in northern New York. Many a day I would drive up close to Barnes Corners and go cross-country skiing for several hours. Downhill skiing, Snowshoeing were also part of my winter activities as was jogging which I did year-round.
Winter In A Wheelchair talks about dressing for cold temperatures and a lot of other ways to decrease your chances of getting frostbite or hypothermia if you choose to go out in your wheelchair in cold weather.
Here we're going to encourage you to get out and enjoy yourself having some fun doing winter activities. It should be recognized at the beginning that some of these involved spending some money, but often the pleasures and inspiration you receive from a day in the winter environment is usually well worth the expenditure. In many areas, there are groups or volunteers who specialize in assisting individuals with disabilities to enjoy the activities. Other times it's just a matter of gathering a couple friends who can help facilitate your travel on a snow-covered trail or heading out on the ice to go ice fishing.
None of these endeavors should be attempted without assistance.
Usually it takes a number of people to help me do an activity because of my inability to transfer myself. Even though it has been over 18 years since my accident it is still VERY difficult to ask for help. (May be it is a man thing) Ice Fishing, Dog sledding or simply going for a walk are some of my winter activities. Dog sledding is an incredible rush. It was -16 degrees the last time I went. The trip lasted 2 hours and we had a wonderful time.
While I probably will not go skiing again, Andy goes a couple times a year. He lives near Park City which is one of the skiing meccas in Utah. He wrote the following about his skiing:
"There are getting more and more opportunities for people of all abilities to enjoy winter sports. Being a C-6 complete tetraplegic is not a reason not to be able to enjoy skiing. I was raised in Utah with some of the best snow in the world, and skiing was just something you did from a very young age. After I broke my neck 11 years ago, it took a bit to get out and enjoy a fast run down the slopes. I ski on what is called a kart ski. It has a little wider stance than a bi-ski making it more stable, but given enough speed you can still tip it over. There is what I call joysticks that your hands are fastened to that you can control the direction of the skis thus allowing you to turn. The University Of Utah has even designed and built a cart ski that can be controlled with a joystick. Above is a picture of my son and me at Brighton Ski resort. Just remember to dress warm, drink plenty of liquids, protect your skin, and have fun!"
Here is a resource with all types of information on Adaptive Skiing
All the above reminds me of the Christopher Reeve quote:
"I refuse to allow a disability to determine how I will live my life. I don't mean to be reckless, but setting a goal that seems a bit daunting actually is very helpful toward recovery."
Get out and enjoy the winter.