The Walking Trout Foundation takes people with mobility limitations on free camping trips so they can experience the beauty and majesty of the Eastern Sierras.
The Foundation was formed in 2013 by lifelong friends who had backpacked together for years and decided it would be worthwhile to share "their" Sierras with people who have mobility limitations and might not otherwise think to take themselves on a "real" camping trip. So, they advertised the first Foundation trip by posting flyers at rehab facilities that cater to people with mobility limitations. They rented a bunch of tents, sleeping bags and vehicles, and took 13 people they'd never met to Rock Creek Lake in the Eastern Sierras. The trip was a great success, so they've done it every year since then. This will be the 6th annual trip for the Foundation. Pictures and trip logs from all five prior trips can be viewed at www.walkingtrout.com/Foundation.html
We are so happy to share the Sierras with people who, due to their disabilities, might not otherwise think to take themselves camping. We've taken people who have never been camping before, as well as people with prior camping experience but who never thought they would camp again after their injury. We've helped people catch their very first trout, we've helped campers travel a portion of the John Muir Trail via wheelchairs and canes, and we've had plenty of campfires, complete with s'mores and lame jokes. Each year, we also arrange for private guided tours for our groups, including tours of Mono Lake and the Devil's Postpile.
Our goal is to take people out to the beautiful Eastern Sierras and introduce (or reintroduce) them to camping, and show them a good time... to give them something to look forward to, and something to look back on (which is pretty much the same reason ANYONE goes camping). And if in the process we happen to encourage some of the campers to go outside of their comfort zone, to push themselves a little harder than normal and perhaps discover some unknown strengths, and just maybe catch the "camping bug," well that's OK, too. In the end, we consider the trip a success if the campers have a great time, and so far it's been a 100% success rate.
The trip is free for all of the campers, and it turns out it's expensive to rent camping gear and vehicles (including a lift van that allows some of the campers to stay in their wheelchairs during the drive), and to buy enough food for 14 campers plus the Walking Trout Foundation volunteers for four days. There are other expenses as well. In 2014, we rented a pontoon boat and took the campers fishing on Convict Lake, one of the Eastern Sierras' most storied lakes. In 2013, we treated the campers to lunch at the quirky Whoa Nellie Deli overlooking Mono Lake, and pies from the (possibly) world-famous Pie in the Sky Cafe at Rock Creek Lake. Then there's the fee for the campsites, the gas for all the vehicles, the rented U-Haul trailer, the fishing gear, the t-shirts... the list goes on. Each year we fund raise, and each year (except in 2017) we've ended up coming out-of-pocket a little, which is fine with us. We've also started purchasing used tents from REI so that we don't have to rent them each year, and in 2016 we bought a generator to allow our campers to re-charge their power wheelchairs without running one of our vehicles. All of these expenses, and all of these trips, have been possible only due to contributions made by friends, family, colleagues, and coworkers - and this year, hopefully you.
With five trips now under our belt, we can assure you with personal experience that any amount you contribute, whether it's $10 or $100, will be put to good use, and will help make a positive impact on the campers. Thank you for any help you can provide.