Ethan Reese-Whiting

Ethan Reese-Whiting - Bild 1
Almost one year ago my wife lost her eyesight due to a combination of pseudotumor cerebrei and a blood clot at the back of her brain. We both have a background in geology and love getting outdoors. When she first lost her eyesight I began to look into how I could help her get back to enjoying the great outdoors. With the input from other blind hikers and the input from and example of Erik Weihenmayer I learned that I could hike ahead of my wife and describe the terrain to her. I would also wear a bell that would give her a sound to follow as I walked ahead.

Without any prior mobility training (i.e., how to use a cane) and only the advice and ideas we had received my wife and I hiked the Yellow Rock trail at Devil's Den near Fayetteville, Arkansas earlier this year. Her LEKI Makalu Tour poles were her eyes. With them she felt her way along the trail as I chimed ahead of hear and gave her descriptions like ;steep drop off to your left, hug to the right a little more; or flat flagstones ahead - smooth sailing for the next ten meters.

While she can no longer enjoy the scenic vistas she has learned to enjoy new things about hiking. The sounds are different in a closed, wooded area than they are on an open overlook. The various smells and sounds fill her remaining senses. She delights in the gentle touch of the wind, rain, and snow on her face. She even commented once how she never realized how pretty the sound of thunder was rolling through a rocky valley. Hiking with her and helping her find ways to get outdoors is also helping me learn how to engage my own other senses when outdoors. Naturally the outdoors are visually beautiful, but those of us with sight should stop and take time to remember to take in the world with our other senses as well.

So who knows where our future adventures will take us? But one thing is for certain - whenever our adventures call for trekking poles our LEKIs will be our constant companions!