A blind man and a woman who can’t walk are the probably the last people you would expect on a hiking trip. But Trevor Hahn and his friend, Melanie Knecht, can prove you wrong.
Though both of them have a disability, the pair had been climbing to the mountain tops and reaching new heights together as a team.
Melanie was born with spina bifida, a condition that rid her of the ability to walk. All her life, she had been using a wheelchair to get around. Trevor, on the other hand, has been legally blind since he was born. Ten years ago, he was still able to drive. But five years ago, it all went downhill and he could see nothing but light.
Both Fort Collins, Colorado residents, the hiking buddies first met at an adaptive boxing class. A few weeks later, they bumped into each other again at an adaptive rock climbing class. They soon learned that they shared a common love for nature.
As a kid, Melanie often spent her time camping and exploring the outdoors. Just recently, she had been to Easter Island where she was able to climb the steep cliffs while she was in a carrier on someone’s back.
Trevor always loved outdoor sports and continued engaging in them even after he became a blind man.
Knowing all of this about each other, the pair came up with a brilliant idea – with their strengths combined, they would climb the mountains of Colorado together!
Before the start of each trek, Melanie, secure in carrier, is hoisted by a friend or a fellow hiker onto Trevor’s back. Her role is to give verbal directions to her partner as they traverse the trail.
“I describe everything I see and exactly how Trevor needs to move,” Melanie said of their hiking method.
“It just seemed like common sense,” she told Good Morning America. “He’s the legs, I’m the eyes — boom! Together, we’re the dream team.”
To them, the best part about hiking as a pair is that they get to give each other the opportunity to accomplish something that others might believe is impossible.
“It made me so happy to help someone experience what I’ve been able to experience my whole life. Just getting on top of a mountain, a car can’t get to it, you just feel that sense of accomplishment. The best part is being able to make her smile. That gives me purpose,” Trevor said.
As for Melanie, she says that the activity also gives her the feeling of freedom.
“I’ve been in a wheelchair my whole life, and it’s an amazing feeling to leave it literally miles behind on the trail. I even couldn’t get in it if I wanted to, and that’s a great feeling,” she said.
So what’s next for this hiking duo?
In August, they plan to climb a fourteener, a mountain that’s over 14,000 feet tall. This will be their biggest climb yet.
Being able to push past barriers as a blind man and as someone who can’t walk is definitely challenging, but Melanie and Trevor were able to rise above it.
Melanie also shared her advice to anyone who encounters a person with a disability.
“Ask questions of people with disabilities, to see what they like and what they want to do. Don’t not include them because you think they won’t be able to do something,” she said.
Watch a video of them hiking (Good Morning America) and don’t forget to share this story.