I use a manual wheelchair and I’m wondering if you have any information on accessible winter activities like snowmobiling and ice fishing. I know adaptive skiing is available at a number of resorts, but I’ve never seen any resources for accessible snowmobiling and ice fishing. Is it even possible for me to participate in either activity?
The good news is, you can definitely participate in both activities. For snowmobiling you have a few choices. Since you use a manual wheelchair I assume that you have the use of your hands. I know several paraplegics who enjoy snowmobiling without any adaptations. You don’t need the use of your legs in order to drive a snowmobile, as the sleds have hand controls. Although modifications are probably not necessary for your disability level, I know one man that added wiring from the battery, to power his heated socks. Of course, that’s totally optional.
Although quadriplegics can certainly ride double, they may need some seat modifications for extra trunk support. Arctic Aventures uses a customized support device that attaches to the snowmobile seat, for extra stabilization. This Quebec-based company offers six-night adapted snowmobile tours from Montreal, which include accessible airport transfers and accommodations in accessible chalets.
They also offer fully adapted activities such as ice fishing and snow tubing on their tours. For more information, contact Arctic Aventure Tours at (450) 228-3181 or visit www.arcticaventure.com.
Either way, once you decide what — if any — modifications you need, just look for some flat smooth trails for the best results. It’s also a good idea to go out with an experienced snowmobiler the first time, just so you can get the hang of it.
There’s also good news on the ice fishing front. Thanks to the ingenuity of Mark Overson, wheelchair-users can now enjoy ice fishing in Northern Wisconsin. An avid fisherman, Mark modified a standard ice fishing house to accommodate his wheelchair. Now, guests who rent his accessible Lake Namakagon cabin also have access to his modified ice fishing house.
The ice fishing house features a back wall that folds down and acts as a ramp, three fishing holes and a propane heater. Set on a trailer, you just tow it out on the lake with a four-wheel drive vehicle or an ATV, and you’re good to go. The back ramp folds up while you fish, so you can fish in heated comfort.
Says Mark, “All you need is a fishing license, equipment and bait.” The world record Musky was caught in Lake Namakagon, so chances are you won’t go home empty handed. “Bring along some good fish fry recipes,” adds Mark. “Your catch will be the envy of your fishing buddies, so don’t forget your camera.”
Nightly rates for the Overson cabin, complete with the ice fishing house and an accessible pontoon boat, start at $297. The cabin can accommodate up to 11 people, so there’s plenty of room for friends and family. For more information about the cabin and the toys, visit www.vrbo.com/.
The Farmer’s Almanac says we’re in for another cold winter, so have fun with these accessible wintertime activities.