Nearly four years ago, a close friend of mine suffered a catastrophic injury while canyoning on the Newnes Plateau.
Most Blue Mountains canyoners never even heard about the accident, which is what Helen wanted at the time. Helen was pushing a pass out of the south branch of Bungleboori Creek. It was no harder than what most people who engage in more remote and exploratory canyoning do regularly and Helen was an extremely competent climber. A hold blew, sending her flying 12 metres to the creek bed below. It was a miracle she survived the fall at all, but it broke her back in three places and left her paraplegic.
An ordinary person would have wallowed in self-pity, but not Helen. Her passion for getting out into nature was so strong that something as minor as being stuck in a wheelchair was never going to deter her. Within months of the accident she was back out bushwalking, and earlier this year she completed her first canyon since the accident, travelling through Wolgan View (The Dry Canyon) with a little help from some few friends.
If you want to hear more about her really inspiring story, Sydney University has just published a great feature article about Helen: https://sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news ... chair.html
Not only does the story cover her accident and recovery, it talks about her amazing efforts to challenge what people think of as "accessible" and open up opportunities for people in wheelchairs or mobility issues to get into the outdoors.
Next on Helen's adventure list -- starting in just a couple weeks -- is a 250km trip from Porto in Portugal to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Along with her friend Lisa, who is also in a wheelchair, they'll be tacking the trip (including obstacles like mud, stairs, steep slopes, fences, and more) unsupported over 15 days.
You can follow along with Helen and Lisa's adventure here: https://pushingtheway.com/blog/
Helen also blogs about her outdoor adventures here: https://pushwalk.com/
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