View Full Version : Hiking with a Blind Person

01-09-2006, 17:57
My wife and I are experienced hikers, living in Vermont for four months (June-September). We are very familiar with the nearby hiking trails.

We have a dear friend in Michigan who is in his 60's and blind. He has been a runner for many years and has a marathon to his credit. He has expressed a desire to hike on the Long Trail with his young grandson and us this summer, probably for two or three days.

I am wondering if someone could put me (and our friend) in contact with another blind hiker so we could gain some understanding of what to expect - the challenges, special considerations, etc. Also, I would like to communicate with a person who has hiked with someone who is blind so that I can properly plan and prepare for our hike.

Any assistance is greatly appreciated.

Jack Tarlin
01-09-2006, 20:10

I suggest you write to Laurie at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (www.atconf.org) as they collect information on hikers with special needs/ circumstances. She may be able to help you with this, or direct you to someone who can. Also, the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club at www.outdoors.org) may well have a program for hikers who are challenged in various ways, and perhaps they have information on or about blind hikers or a list of folks who can help you.

Blue Jay
01-09-2006, 20:22
The fact that you are considering it makes you a very special and wonderful person (or persons). Thank you for helping me to not give up on the human race.

01-13-2006, 12:13
I hiked with Healer in 2003, who suffers from MS, and can see enough to walk, but is legally blind. When him and I would hike together, he would amaze me how he could stay on the trail and hike faster than I could. I saw him one day trying to read on of those blasted concrete trail markers at SNP and he was disgusted because he could not read the little letters on the sign.

I think that from my experience, people who are blind, have learned to rely on other senses. Blind Hikers can stay on the trial just by listening to the sounds that there shoes make when they touch the ground. Step to far one way or the other and the sound of the trail changes.

My suggestion is this, compartmentalize this individuals pack, in such a way that they know what each container, stuff sack, etc feels like. Make sure that they have good shoes, at least 1 hiking stick for feeling along the trail, and just take them out there. You be the eyes for them. I dont think that this would really be that difficult unless the person is very clumsy with there feet and roots and rocks and other stuff etc.

Jack Tarlin
01-13-2006, 17:24
I can't believe I didn't think of this before. If you haven't already, read a copy of Bill Irwin's memoir "Blind Courage" which gives a great deal of info what's it's like to be a sightless hiker. You might also want to write him directly with questions; I've heard from others that he'a a great correspondent and is very gracious about replying to personal mail. You can contact him at www.billirwin.com

01-13-2006, 22:21
Thanks all for the thoughts and pointers. My blind friend and his gransdon are looking at the end of August for their hike. I e-mailed him about Bill Irwin and will continue to learn what I can. Will post here if I come across any useful info for others and plan to report on our experiences in September.