Melanie Knecht was born with spina bifida and uses a wheelchair, and Trevor Hahn lost his sight because of glaucoma five years ago. The two friends came up with a creative solution to take their love of adaptive sports to a new level.
Knecht, a Colorado-based music therapist, rock climber, boxer, spent her childhood camping and outdoor exploration and lately moved to Easter Island where she could climb steep cliffs on someone’s back in a carrier.
Hahn always loved outdoor sports, and even after he lost his eyesight he continued doing them. Trevor’s been guided up mountains all over the world using a bell/voice system.
“It just seemed like common sense,” Knecht told “Good Morning America.” “He’s the legs, I’m the eyes — boom! Together, we’re the dream team.”
The two live in Fort Collins, Colorado, and met at an adaptive boxing class. A few weeks later, at an adaptive rock climbing class, they ran into each other again and quickly learned of each other’s love of nature.
The pair decided to get creative in pursuing their love of wilderness. Knecht, secure in a carrier, sponsored by Big Agnes, is hoisted onto Hahn’s back. He hikes along the trail while she gives him verbal directions along the way.
“I describe everything I see and exactly how Trevor needs to move,” Knecht said.
It was a beautiful day to go hiking, and this was our most intense hike yet! It was great practice for Mel directing Trevor around/through lots of rocks, snow, and ruts on the trail, while Trevor got to work on endurance and strength training. We covered a total of 4 miles, which isn’t a lot when your goal is to hike a 14er, but it’s OUR best personal record (in terms of difficulty AND length), so this was a huge literal step of progress for us.🥾🎉 We hope everyone else is enjoying some time outside this weekend, too!🍻#hikingwithsight
They said the best part about hiking together is giving each other the chance to do what some would say is impossible. And Knecht is able to feel free.
“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 couldn’t get into it, even if I wanted to, and that’s a great feeling,” she said.
“It made me so happy to help someone experience what I’ve been able to experience my whole life,” Hahn said. “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.”
According to “Good Morning America,” another thing they said they love about hiking together is that they say they don’t feel like a burden on one another. With each other, they understand what it’s like to live with a disability and assist each other on the journey.
“We go a little slower and need to take lots of breaks, but that’s what we both need,” Hahn said.
They were able to move past obstacles because of their open-mindedness and creativity. And they encourage capable individuals to think more about how to find adaptive alternatives for their disabled friends.
“It takes a lot of teamwork. If I fall, she falls,” Hahn told “5280.” “Lower branches can sometimes be a problem. My trekking poles can usually find things on the ground, but nothing above. If I have a guide, they can tell me what to watch out for, but that doesn’t always happen….”
They call their adventures Hiking With Sight, and they’re going to try their first fourteen together this August. (You, along with nearly 3,000 other fans, can follow their training through their eponymous Facebook page.)
She doesn’t walk, and he lost his sight. Together, they’re reaching new heights.