Adventures Without Limits operates in many areas of Oregon all year-round. From adaptive programs to public outings or custom partnerships, the nonprofit organization provides gear and expertise to anyone looking for outdoor adventure, regardless of ability or other potentially limiting factors. Guide Cedar Yelvington (they/them) grew up in New Mexico, where they experienced hiking, whitewater rafting and camping with their family. A certified Wilderness First Responder, Yelvington has been working for Adventures Without Limits as a trip leader since 2019 with fellow guide Anika Morkowski. We chatted with them about their work creating meaning through outdoor experiences.
What do you do at Adventures Without Limits and why is it rewarding?
I guide people in all sorts of outdoor activities, from rock climbing to whitewater rafting to snow sports. I grew up in a family that spent time outdoors together, and I had regular access to playing outside as a kid, so I feel more connected to others and myself when we’re outside sharing these activities together. I’m particularly drawn to instructing or outdoor guiding that facilitates community and personal exploration and growth, especially when people are experiencing the outdoors in a way that they haven’t before.
Why do you think it’s important for everyone to have access to the outdoors?
Humans are part of the natural ecosystem and outdoor environment, and we are happier and healthier when we spend time outside. Spending time outside reminds us that we are interdependent with all the other beings around us. It’s easy to remember that when you’re outdoors and need to find water to drink or carry all your food on your back. Experiencing the power of a river or a mountain helps us tap into that interconnection.
Why is Mt. Hood is a great place for wintertime activities?
Mt. Hood is magnificent from every angle. It’s huge, so it’s very accessible from a lot of areas, and you can tailor your experience to your desired exertion level. The mountain has a variety of ecosystems, so you can go to a different sno-park and get a very different experience. Also, its proximity to Portland makes it incredibly accessible for a lot of people. Snow on the mountain is great for physical adaptive sports because it’s slippery and you can utilize a lot of different tools to move on it, like sliding on sit-skis or sleds and walking on top of it using snowshoes.
What’s it like to use adaptive skis or snowshoes, and how do you help?
It’s fun! Give it a go. Be aware that you might fall down, and plan to have people there with you who can help with balance, at least initially. Adaptive doesn’t necessarily mean using a sit-ski. There are plenty of ways to be adaptive. For example, I can adapt my guiding, instruction style and the gear to whatever the person needs. What it comes down to is that everyone belongs outside, and that looks different for every person. The more we can create spaces where everyone feels welcome and like they belong outside, the better the world will be.
What other outdoor activities do you love to do?
When I moved to Oregon, part of why I fell in love with the area was the diverse array of outdoor experiences that are possible. Rock climbing is pretty much my favorite thing in the world! One of the many reasons I love this type of work so much is that it gives me the opportunity to travel around and climb. I’ve also tried surfing a few times and would love to keep trying to get better at it.