The hike begins in a very cushy way, along Beaver Lake on Mount Royal. It thickens after the Kondiaronk belvedere, when hikers take a rocky path that descends steeply into the forest. A little push here, a brake there, enthusiastic guides allow people with disabilities to leave the main roads and explore small rugged paths leading to discreet lookouts.
The key is the joëlette, a one-wheel all-terrain wheelchair that can maneuver over rocks and roots and tackle fairly steep slopes. It is enough to use at least two companions, one forward, one behind, who have an appropriate level of fitness for the challenge. You don’t have to be a superhero.
Enthusiastic guides, there are several during an inclusive hike recently organized on Mount Royal by Rando Quebec, in collaboration with BivouaQ and DéfPhys sans limit.
“Inclusive hiking is super important to us, especially since the joëlette is distributed in Quebec,” says Grégory Flayol, assistant general manager and program manager at Rando Quebec. The objective of this activity is to show people that it exists, that hiking is accessible to people with disabilities. »
In some parks, we have worked hard to make certain hiking trails accessible to people with reduced mobility. This is a much appreciated initiative, but it is expensive and there are still hundreds of kilometers of trails that cannot be transformed for a variety of reasons. But that does not mean that people with disabilities cannot venture on the more difficult trails.
“With the joëlette, the question is not whether the trail is good, but whether the team is good! “says Mr. Flayol.
Marie-Hélène Tanguay, project coordinator at DéfPhys Sans Limite and herself with a disability, clearly enjoys the ride aboard the joëlette. “It’s comfortable, there aren’t too many big hits,” she says. We are higher [than on a conventional wheelchair], it gives a new perspective on nature while being well accompanied. »
Mégane Savary, student, particularly appreciates the passage in the narrow paths, in the heart of the woods. “It’s like you don’t have a disability,” she says. It’s really hot, I have two good drivers. »
“Inclusion is everyone being in the same society. »
This is how some people who have a visual impairment join the hike with the help of the organization Le Bon Pilote, which offers accompaniment services.
For their part, Vincent Roy and Chloé Brosseau have heard of the activity through social networks and decide to come for a walk. They are part of a small organization, Les Courses solidaires de Montréal, which leads duo running outings (runner and co-runner) using adapted wheelchairs. His slogan ? Countering social isolation, one race at a time.
For its part, the BivouaQ solidarity cooperative organizes outdoor activities and stays with adapted joëlettes and kayaks. “We’ve been around for two years, we want to create an inclusive outdoor community in Quebec,” says Dominic Viénot, co-founder of the cooperative.
The joëlette was designed by a French tour guide, Joël Claudel. It is still made in France. With shipping, it costs just over $7,000, notes Gilles Roure of Zero Limit, which distributes the joëlette in Canada. “We sometimes sell it to individuals, but mostly to non-profit organizations, municipalities or regional parks. »
They can be found in Portneuf, Trois-Monts-de-Coleraine, Sutton and Mont-Ham parks. But not in the parks of the Society of Outdoor Establishments of Quebec (SEPAQ). “I offered to them, but they prefer other types of equipment,” Roure says.
Instead, SEPAQ offers adapted wheelchairs that can be used on groomed trails. But not the rougher trails that are accessible to joëlette enthusiasts.
Forget the Vcorde, the crampons and the ice axe. A drone allows us to follow a particularly popular mountaineering route, the Hornli ridge of the Matterhorn.
A midge can measure from 0.8 to 3 mm. We do not see them, these little vampires.