Most folks are fortunate to be able to explore the Oregon outdoors anytime they wish, but what if your reality is that an outdoor escape a million miles away? Recently, I went on a getaway with folks who believe that there is no such thing as limitations and anyone – regardless of ability – gets to go.

A hike in Oregon snow country means finding the ‘right fit’ for a snow show, but there’s more according to Keith Mussallem, lead guide for the Washington County based non-profit called Adventures Without Limits (AWL). AWL is a group that specializes in finding the right fit for folks who rarely get to go.

“Our programs are geared toward working with anyone who has a known disadvantage – physical, developmental, financial and they come to us because they know they’re going to be taken care of. They show up and we’ll handle it all.”

Recently, it was “all handled” at the popular White River West Sno-Park near Mt Hood – the starting point of a two-mile hike for folks who’d never done anything like it before. Since 1995, Adventures Without Limits has taken folks where they want to go whether kayaking, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, cave exploring, camping and more.

AWL’s Executive Director, Kris Williams, explained that the group refuses to say “no” to anyone who’s hungry for adventure.

“Whether it’s lack of skill, experience or money, we make sure everyone gets a chance to explore Oregon.”

Out on the White River snow trail, AWL’s “companions” helped guide many newcomers who were challenged by the snow, the slope and the new feel of ungainly snow shoes.

“Many of our participants come to do the activities but can use an extra set of hands due to varying ranges of disabilities,” noted guide Devan Schwartz. ”Our companion comes along and just stays there – attentive to the personal needs of the client and that gives everyone a chance to try something new and have a good experience.”

Each step up the trail brought each person closer to a mountain of new confidence where their successes were measured by broad smiles from new accomplishments, plus an eagerness for more adventure.

“We want them to have a complete experience, a little bit more awareness, but also a lot of joy in what they do,” added Mussallem.

Williams agreed, “So they’ll go out there on their own and want to go on their own and feel safe and feel empowered and feel confidant to get out there and do it on their own.”

About the Author: Grant McOmie

Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.

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