Defying disability in the depths of winter

“These trips are textbook examples of why Wilderness Inquiry exists, bringing people of all ability levels together to build community and accomplish common goals. These trips are what make us who we are,” said outdoor leader Larry Raineri, having just wrapped up the second Boundary Waters Winter Adventure of the season with Living Well Disability Services. These trips bring people of all ability and experience levels together to enjoy Minnesota’s natural wonders in depths of winter.

Wilderness Inquiry and Living Well, formerly known as Dakota Communities, have been traveling together since 2004. Living Well supports adults and children with cognitive disabilities in their communities, encouraging their residents to take part in all community resources. Together our organizations push the boundaries of outdoor adventure for all people, including those with disabilities. Each year, we run a few trips together to the Boundary Waters for snowshoeing, sledding, and dogsledding–and of course, a dip in the frozen lake.

These trips are very popular with the Living Well folks. Many individuals come back year after year. The variety of activities allows each person to express their abilities in amazing ways.

Fun hike up to overlook at West Bearskin Lake. (Photo: Abigail Lucas)

“You didn’t have to participate in the actual activity to feel the rewards from this trip. Some of the best parts were helping each other reach individual goals and experiencing the reward of working together.”

Mush! (Photo: Mark Hennager)

“It didn’t matter how each person communicated… the smiles, radiating personalities, and giggles from the pulk sleds showed that no matter one’s ability our common humanity brought us together.”

Everyone loves a s’more. (Photo: Grant Armour)

Downtime in the lodge allows us to connect and rest up for the next adventure. (Photo: Mark Hennager)

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