Climbing 14,000 feet to the summit of a mountain is no easy feat. Despite the challenges of being visually impaired or not having legs, two friends are making their dreams come true. Working together, Melanie Knecht and Trevor Hahn are showing the world anything is possible. After meeting at a boxing class, the fast friends bonded over a love for the outdoors. Melanie and Trevor have been documenting their hiking adventures in Colorado, sharing their story with the world. Using adaptive techniques, Melanie acts as the couple’s eyes, while Trevor is the legs of the operation.
A Natural Bond
Melanie Knecht and Trevor Hahn both live in Fort Collins, Colorado. Melanie was born with spina bifida and has never been able to use her legs. Trevor became visually impaired after he lost his sight to glaucoma. One thing that brought Melanie and Trevor together was a shared love of the outdoors. Once they ran into each other at an adaptive rock climbing class, after first meeting in a boxing class, they teamed up to take on the world.
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We have officially set a date and picked a 14er (but are keeping it a secret🤐😉)! With one month to go, we are training and preparing as much as we can! 💪🏼🧠 Guiding Trevor has become more natural/easier, and Trevor is building up his strength carrying Melanie. Many people stopped to stare at us on this beautiful trail specifically, probably a little confused and definitely curious.🤔 This is nothing new for Mel, and doesn’t bother Trevor obviously 😂, but we love making new friends, so if you see us on the trails, please say “hello👋🏼”! Part of sharing this journey is creating a safe space to ask ability-related questions, which we are more than willing to discuss. FYI, most handicapable people would rather be asked a seemingly uncomfortable question, than have (most likely) false assumptions made about them. If there’s anything you’re dying to know, ASK!🏔🥾👀 #hikingwithsight • • (Image description: Trevor and Melanie smiling on the Twin Sisters Trail with big boulders, surrounded by pine trees, under blue skies, with Mount Meeker and Longs Peak being majestic in the background)
Growing up, Melanie loved going camping and exploring the great outdoors. Trevor was always an avid fan of outdoor sports, and he didn’t let losing his sight stop him. The friends decided they wanted to hike along the picturesque mountains and trails of Colorado, so they worked out an ingenious system. Wearing a special harness on his back, Trevor would carry Melanie on their hiking expeditions. Melanie would act as Trevor’s eyes, and Trevor would become Melanie’s legs.
Knecht and Hahn document their hiking trips on their Instagram account @hiking_with_sight and their Facebook page. Using adaptive techniques to hike, the friends describe their activities as “a journey of purpose between two friends, one who cannot see and one who cannot walk.” Before hiking with Knecht, Hahn used to follow the sound of a bell to get around. Hiking with a buddy who has his back has transformed the hiking experience for Hahn.
Hahn had this to say about hiking with Melanie. “It made me so happy to help someone experience what I’ve been able to experience my whole life. The best part is being able to make her smile.” Knecht was all too happy to leave her wheelchair behind. She stated, “I’ve been in a wheelchair my whole life, and it’s an amazing feeling to leave it literally miles behind on the trail.” Together, the dynamic duo is inspiring others for their commitment to teamwork, communication, and living life to the fullest.
Documenting The Distance
Trevor and Melanie show that it is possible to push past believed limitations placed on people living with a disability. Despite not being fully able-bodied or visually impaired, working as one, Melanie gives verbal instructions, and Trevor carefully navigates obstacles. In a bold move, the friends have begun training to hike a mountain over 14,000-feet high in August. Not only have Hahn and Knecht gone viral online, but they caught the interest of ABC’s Good Morning America and People Magazine.
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Hello, friends! We are Trevor and Melanie AKA Hiking with Sight, and together we are going to hike a 14,000 foot mountain in our beautiful home state of Colorado. In 2013, Trevor lost his vision to glaucoma, but has since been guided up mountains all over the world using a bell/voice system. Melanie, born with spina bifida, uses a wheelchair to get around. Trevor and Melanie became friends through their love of adaptive sports, which gave them the idea of utilizing both of their strengths to get outside! Melanie is the eyes of the operation, guiding Trevor as he hikes with Melanie on his back! Stay tuned to see how we creatively overcome challenges and summit mountains! #hikingwithsight #noeyesnolegsnoproblem
Online the Twitter feed for ABC News, user Janice Scott Taylor responded, “Omg bless you.” Another Twitter user, Nurjehan commented, “Just two beautiful souls enjoying life, nothing can stop them.” Hahn and Knecht’s story received 491 tweets and 93 retweets. On Facebook, the hiking duo has 4,226 followers and 4,089 likes. The pair are practically Insta-famous, with 9,457 followers and growing. Hahn and Knecht have received nothing but supportive comments, awe, and respect for showing how teamwork and adaptive techniques make dreams come true. No matter whether someone is non-disabled or disabled when there’s a will, there’s a way.
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