History has been made. A blind man has conquered the Colorado Trail thanks to the help of his buddy – a Labrador Retriever guide dog.
Trevor Thomas is the first blind person in history to complete an unassisted hike of the Colorado Trail.
“I wanted to get a more remote, more rugged, test my independence,” Thomas told NBC Charlotte’s Sarah Hagen.
This isn’t the first time Thomas has proven himself on a trail, but in 2011 he had to walk away from Colorado Trail.
“It got serious really fast, I had to walk away, the first trail I had to walk away from.”
But this summer, Thomas had the courage to try the trail again – and succeeded. He went back to the Colorado trail with his best buddy – a five-year-old Labrador Retriever named Tennille – by his side.
Thomas’ world went dark in just eight months.
“I went to vision works thinking I needed glasses. Losing my sight. It’s a life changing experience. The name is atypical Central serous chorioretinopathy.”
A decade later, he sees the world differently.
“We take every guide book, map– for any trail– and we go over them and write a guide book for me,” he said. “I know at that mileage I start listening and tell Tennille find water. And she is a Lab so she loves to do that and jump in.”
But no matter how much they prepare, unexpected scenarios still happen.
“For instance if I am going to walk off a cliff she will walk in front of me. If I don’t get the message, she will walk backwards away from danger. We had problems with weather– more snow than expected, flooding…” he recalls.
But Thomas says those problems are nothing like what blind people are up against every day.
Thomas founded the Team FarSight Foundation in 2014. The organization is devoted to empowering blind and visually impaired young adults through the development of hiking programs.
“Hopefully it gives them encouragement to do whatever it is to challenge themselves, if the blind guy and his dog can do it, there really is no excuse,” he said.