Frequently Asked Questions

Here you will find responses to a few common questions. Have a question that isn’t answered here? Contact me and I’ll get back to you.

Who is this project for? What are you trying to accomplish?
Can you explain the spoon rating?
How is this different from diversity in the outdoors or body-positivity movements?
Why do you use the label disabled people? Aren’t people with disabilities just differently-abled?
How can I find other disabled people to go hiking with?
How much time do you spend creating the guides for Disabled Hikers?
What are your long-term goals for the project?
Who started this project?
How can I help?
Who is that cute dog in some of the photos?

Who is this project for? What are you trying to accomplish?

This project is for disabled people who want to get outdoors. The information provided is relevant to anyone with mobility limitations, including our elders and children. It is also meant for the friends and families of disabled people who want more information and resources. So, this project is by disabled people for disabled people, and since everyone knows someone who is disabled or has other limitations, it is for everyone.

I hope this project provides a valuable resource to disabled hikers and disabled would be hikers. My journey to loving my body and loving the places I live and visit has been long. While nature is not a cure-all, my time in the outdoors has been profoundly healing, has helped me regain my confidence, and given me a home that I can always return to. I want to give that opportunity to as many people as I can, both for themselves and for the places they will come to love.

My goal is to increase access to the outdoors, advocate for disability rights in the outdoors industry and movement, while supporting disabled people to make the best choices they can for themselves.
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Can you explain the spoon rating?

The spoon rating is a system to identify how much effort a trail might take. Since each person’s ability and energy level is different and can change from day-to-day I cannot tell you how difficult a trail might be for you, but I can give you a general guide.

The spoons come from the spoon theory, originally written by Christine Miserandino. The theory offers an explanation for the reduced amount of energy people with disabilities and chronic illness have available each day. Spoons can be replaced only through rest and other forms of care. Spoon theory has become a way for people to represent their reduced energy and the increased effort it takes to live in the world with disability and chronic illness.

The spoon rating is based in this understanding of spoon theory and offers a representation of how much effort a hike may take with consideration for how replenishing the experience may be. Go here for a description of the rating system.
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How is this different from diversify the outdoors or body-positivity movements?

The body-positive, fat-empowering movement, and the diversify the outdoors movement on the whole, are very important. So many people who do not meet society’s normative expectation for what an “outdoors person” is have been made to feel invisible and have had access to the outdoors closed to them, i.e., anyone who is not conventionally fit/thin/muscular, white, able-bodied, and middle class. That leaves out the majority of people.

Disabled Hikers is aligned with the intersectional outdoors movement. We are explicitly anti-racist and anti-colonialist, body-positive, welcoming of all LGBTQ+ folx and gender expressions, and remain mindful of the influence of class in the lived experiences of all people.

Disabled people have specific needs and concerns that are not being addressed in the outdoors movement on the whole. This project is here to help address that, to advocate for the needs and rights of disabled people within the outdoor movement.
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Why do you use the label disabled people? Aren’t people with disabilities just differently-abled?

I named the project Disabled Hikers because disabled people need representation within the outdoors movement. We need to be acknowledged and our specific needs need to be addressed. We can’t do that without first naming who we are. Not using the word can become another way to erase the existence and needs of disabled people. I see it as a necessary part of the struggle for representation and justice; it is not a label, it is descriptive of my experience in the world.

I don’t use person first language to describe myself (person with disabilities) because it inherently implies that being a person means being able-bodied or we wouldn’t need the additional descriptor; people don’t use the term “person with abilities” to describe able-bodied people. I have the same reasoning for not using the term differently-abled person. I strongly believe that everyone is entitled to their own identity descriptors, and I won’t argue with you if you use one of these. It is your choice.
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How can I find other disabled people to go hiking with?

Syren Nagakyrie, the founder, leads group hikes around the Olympic Peninsula and western Washington and Oregon. She is also available as a personal guide for your day trip.

Some other groups leading body-positive hikes are Fat Girls Hiking and Unlikely Hikers, they are based in Portland, Oregon but are expanding to other areas. If you know of others, please leave a comment with a link.

Search on Facebook for “hiking groups [your area].” Ask if there are other disabled people or anyone else who would be willing to match your ability and pace. Check your local listings for conservation groups, land trusts, and other outdoor organizations; they are often a resource for events and hiking groups.

Please be safe when meeting anyone you do not know. Always tell someone else where you are going. Have separate transportation. Meet your hiking partner in a public place first.
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How much time do you spend creating the guides for Disabled Hikers?

It is a hefty task. Each hike, when taken with the perspective of writing a guide, takes twice as long as usual. Whenever possible, I write a guide only after I’ve been out on a trail at least twice. The guide takes at least 3 hours to research, write, and edit, and an additional 2 or more hours to format, edit photos, and post on the website. Then I spend several hours promoting the site so people know about the resource. All in all, I spend at least 10 hours publishing each guide, and a full 2-3 days on this project per week. As a disabled person myself, I have to be honest and realistic about my abilities and limitations, so guides may not be published as frequently as on sites oriented to non-disabled people.
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What are your long-term goals for the project?

My plan for the website includes adding hikers and guides from other areas, additional resource and technical guides, a range of media offerings, and a community forum. I’ll be making PDF copies of the guides to give to organizations, and would like to publish a guidebook. We currently have an Instagram account and a Facebook page and Facebook group.
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Who started this project?

Syren Nagakyrie is an advocate, writer, naturalist, and lover of places. I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which results in frequent joint dislocations and chronic joint and body pain, along with chronic fatigue, dizziness and tachycardia, and a number of other conditions. I am frequently a solo hiker, and I got so tired of scouring hiking guides for information that I decided to start my own, with information that I need to decide whether to attempt a trail.
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How can I help?

Share the project with your friends! Share posts from the Facebook page, our Instagram, and the website. Spread the word.
Know of any individuals or organizations doing work around disability and/or the outdoors? Connect us.
Do you have a podcast, blog, or other form of media outlet? I’m available for interviews and articles.
Share your own stories about being a disabled hiker. With your permission, I will add them to the website.
Interested in writing guides or trail condition reports? Take a look at the website, then send in a sample.
Have website design experience? I could use professional development help to bring the full vision to life.
Support Syren (the founder) on Patreon. It takes a lot of time to manage this project. As a disabled person myself, I have to manage my time with consideration. Patreon helps me have the time to do this work.
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Who is that cute dog in some of the photos?

That would be my longtime companion and best hiking buddy, Ranger. He is about 12 years old and his pace finally matches my own. He is a Feist, which is a Beagle-Jack Russell mix, and he is the best dog. All dogs are best dog, of course.
Apologies to anyone who has a fear of dogs – I try to keep him out of the photos as much as possible, but sometimes he is stubborn and I can’t spend 10 minutes on a trail trying to get him to move so I can take a photo.
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