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Colorado group makes mountain trails more accessible

Chris Layne missed seeing beautiful views after a hiking accident left her a paraplegic. A Colorado nonprofit helped her get back on the trail.

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. — Some days in Colorado are unforgettable. The state is blessed with amazing mountain views, but for those who can’t walk, it is nearly impossible to enjoy them on a hike. 

Chris Layne loved to hike and find adventure. She remembers the perfect days, and the afternoon that changed it all. 

“October 28th of 2016,” she said. “It was my son’s birthday.”

A couple of steps into a hike with her son at Clear Creek Canyon, she slipped on the loose gravel and fell 80 feet. It was an accident that left her a paraplegic.

“Trying to walk again, you aren’t even thinking about you,” she said. “You are thinking about what you can do physically when it is very limited.”

Finding adventure was harder after her accident. That's why Layne shares her story. She wants to have more unforgettable moments, and she encourages others to do the same.

“That is one thing I want to really ensure and hope that people can get out of it,” she said. “Move. Don’t stay stagnant.”

Layne isn’t someone who can sit still. She just needs help from people like Jeffrey Lockwood to get back on the mountain again.

Lockwood’s nonprofit, The Lockwood Foundation, makes trails accessible to everyone. In 2019, the group raised enough money to purchase its first Trailrider chair, which travels on a single wheel. 

In 2020, a group of volunteers helped a woman summit Mount Elbert, and they believe she became the first wheelchair user to summit the mountain.

The Lockwood Foundation uses the single-wheeled chair during hikes in the summer, and a sled during the winter.

“If you ski in Colorado, there’s a dozen different options for you, but if you want to go out into the trail, there are zero,” Lockwood said.

From zero to about two miles per hour, Layne made new memories on Saturday she never thought were possible. With a little encouragement, volunteers pulled up her the Mayflower Gulch Trail.

All of those old feelings rushed back.

“I haven’t stopped smiling since we left,” Layne said during the hike. “It has been a solid smile. My cheekbones are hurting, I am smiling so much.”

After five years away from the views she missed so much, this day will be hard to forget. It was memorable in the best way.

The Lockwood Foundation is going into its fifth year. So far, they have helped 75 people get back on the trails.

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