Dobson Trail Hike creates an accessible experience for those with vision loss

5/14/2015

​For 66-year-old Carmella Powers, who was stripped of her sight in her early 20s, hiking across a woodland terrain is a feat she never thought imaginable.

On Friday, May 29, Powers will be one of many Moncton residents taking part in CNIB’s biannual Dobson Trail Hike, an experience that has been made fully accessible for participants with vision loss.

Over the last 20 years, hundreds of CNIB clients and volunteers have had the opportunity to hike along a 1 km stretch of the Dobson Trail. While the participants range in age and live with varying degrees of vision loss, route modifications have allowed them to hike a portion of the historic trail independently.

The Fundy Hiking Trail Association continually dedicates time and effort to ensure parts of the trail are accessible to seniors and those living with blindness or partial sight.

One of the most prominent safety features includes a guide wire, which is attached to poles and trees, allowing hikers to feel their way along the winding footpath. Smooth gravel laid along more than a kilometre of the trail eliminates rugged and uneven terrain – making it easier for individuals with mobility issues and those who cannot rely on visual cues when hiking.

The event, hosted and organized by the Fundy Hiking Association and CNIB volunteers, means a lot to regular attendees like Jeanette Arsenault.

The 88-year-old is fully blind and has participated in the Dobson Trail Hike for more than 20 years – recruiting numerous participants along the way.

After venturing alongside brooks and taking in the sounds and scents of surrounding wildlife, participants reach their destination where they’re greeted by park volunteers with brunch, music and opportunities to reminisce and share their experiences around a roaring campfire.

To learn more about the Dobson Trail Hike with CNIB and how to get involved, please contact the CNIB Moncton Centre at 506.857.4240 or email lynne.fraser-goodwin@cnib.ca.

(Article reprinted with permission in PrimeTime magazine June 2015)

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