Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Clouds Rest - A Heroic Acheivement

This past Saturday (October 18), I headed to Tenaya Lake with a few friends to tackle Clouds Rest in Yosemite National Park. We arrived at the Sunrise Trailhead on the South side of Tenaya Lake at about 7:00am. Soon after we got there, a caravan of vehicles pulled up and out poured multitude young energetic souls on a mission. Many were gathered around the back of a pickup truck, unstrapping a contraption and pulling it out. The device appeared to be a cross between a sled, a wheel barrow and a wheel chair (I came to find out later it is called a Trail Rider). It soon became clear that this thing would be headed up the trail and not only that, there would be a person riding in it.

Curious about what was going on, I discovered that the trip was the brain child of Nick Cunningham, the Director of Generation Fate, a non-profit organization that works with foster children. I asked Nick what inspired this event and he said "I was sitting at the top of an active volcano in Guatemala enjoying the breathtaking view of a sprawling rainforest like I had never seen before. I was in a state of awe and euphoria gazing over the beautiful landscape sure that I was the luckiest man in the world. When suddenly, and to this day I am not sure why, it dawned on me that kids who use wheelchairs could never make it to where I was sitting." He had a vision to change that and the Nobel Heights crew was born.

Riding on the sled would be a special young man, Austin Taylor, a 20 year old paraplegic and "Guinea Pig". Austin was placed in the Trail Rider and supported by a team of volunteers, headed up the challenging trail to the top of Clouds Rest.

My buddies and I left ahead of the group talking about Austin and how special it was to be a witness to this momentous event. As we tackled different parts of the trail, we wondered how the heck anyone would be able to get that sled, let alone carrying someone in it, up the mountain.

In a few hours, we arrived at the top of Clouds Rest. The last part of the trail is a narrow shoulder with steep drops on both sides. Surely they wouldn't make it up there. However, 20 minutes after we arrived, up came the crew. Excitement bristled among everyone at the summit. Here we were almost 10,000 ft in elevation and with us on top of the mountain was Austin, a 20-year old young man "who has used a wheelchair since birth".

Being on top of Clouds Rest was an awesome experience and having the opportunity to see the heroic act of Austin and the entire Nobel Heights Crew made it that much better. I congratulate the whole team for their effort and inspiration.

(Austin looking out towards Half Dome and the Valley)

(On the way down)

note: some photographs were supplied by Nick Cunnigham.


Anonymous said...

How cool is that!!!! congratulations Austin and way to go Nick. Keep your dream alive and you will impact many people in your lifetime.

Jerry G

Ted said...

What a great story, it inspires me to do more for people who are not a lucky as I am.
Best Wishes


Anonymous said...

What an awesome experience for Austin. My step-dad (wheelchair bound his whole life) would have been very proud of Nick and his mission.
Andrea Raymond

Anonymous said...

Was wondering when the next trip was and how many team members you have?

Unknown said...

Hi I was wondering when your next trip was and how many people on your team?

Dave Miller said...

I don't work with the Noble Heights crew, I just happened to be there when they went up and was fortunate to capture their adventure.

You can check with Nick Cunningham at Generation Fate to see what they have going on though. http://www.generationfate.org/

For me, I just finished up a Family Backpacking Trip with my Royal Ranger group at Pt. Reyes and getting ready to take them up to Ten Lakes soon.

Glad you enjoyed the article. Sorry I didn't have all the information you wanted though.