Victory for Deaf-Blind Appalachian Trail Hiker

Roger "Adventurous Pole" Poulin completed a four-year hike of the Appalachian Trail in June of 2014.  Roger is blind and deaf.

Roger "Adventurous Cane" Poulin completed a four-year hike of the Appalachian Trail in June of 2014. Roger is blind and deaf.

Roger "Adventurous Cane" Poulin is a deaf-blind Appalachian Trail hiker who completed his section hike with Roni "Rambling Shamrock" Lepore, his Support Service Provider (SSP) and friend.

They first met in 2007 at Long Islands' Helen Keller National Center, where Roni was learning how to work with deaf-blind people. Roger told her about his dream to hike AT and she agreed to work with him as an SSP.

They climbed Mount Katahdin and brought their stunning four-year quest to walk from Georgia to Maine to its ultimate goal.

Stronger people than you and I might ever be have tried and failed to get out of Georgia heading northbound on the AT or through the 100-Mile-Wilderness southbound.

Others -- children, those with one disability or another, even old people like me -- hit the Trail and make it look easy. Bill Irwin finished the Trail with his guide dog and overcame the limitations of his blindness. They all attest to the fact that it is possible to defeat almost any odds against them.

Then there is Roger "Adventurous Cane" Poulin, who is both deaf and blind. Can you imagine what it's like to not be able to see or hear? On the Appalachian Trail? In the White Mountains?

Back in April of 2010, Roger and Rambling Shamrock set out from Springer Mountain. Six months later they had 1,107 miles of the 2,185 mile Trail behind them. Between April and June 2011, they logged another 460 miles. In 2012, the road took a bit longer to hike; nevertheless, they added another 120 miles to their total between April and July, according to their blog.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014, was the day they went their last mile to attain goals that no one but them could have set -- or met.

Have you seen Mount Katahdin? To me, it rises like the dang Matterhorn taunting hikers into quitting, in spite of enduring the 100-Mile-Wilderness, today's equivalent of the Fire Swamp. I expected to see flying monkeys moments after Katahdin came into view. From the comfort of my car.

One of Roger's goals was to be a role model and inspiration for those who are deaf and/or blind. An epic victory, indeed.

In Roger's words,

"My goal is to show that dreams can become a reality for anyone, regardless of their personal challenges and struggles. I also want to expose the world to understand why Support Service Person (SSP) is extremely important to deaf and blind community."

Roni "Rambling Shamrock" personifies friendship and caring.

Roni "Rambling Shamrock" Lepore personifies friendship and caring.

Rambling Shamrock comes from New Jersey. The list of credentials she has listed on their blog are as long as your trekking pole:

  • Certified Wilderness First Aid (WFA)
  • Wilderness First Responder (WFR; aka "Woofer") from Wilderness Medical Associates (WMA)
  • BS and MS in Information Technology from the Rochester Institute of Technology
  • and she's working to earn certifications as a Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI).

In her spare time, Roni travels the world, teaches and tutors ASL to students and studies written German and DGS -- when she's not hiking the AT with Adventurous Cane.

Rambling Shamrock is beyond amazing. Most of us wouldn't answer the phone if our "best friend" needed help moving furniture. A few, possibly, would drive a bff a hundred miles. To lead the way up the length of the Appalachian Trail, followed by someone who could not see or hear a warning? That is an astounding commitment.

How did they do it?

It's a long story ... that's worth the time to read. Watch their videos, if you'd rather.

Just click on the links below and let us know what you think about Adventurous Cane and Rambling Shamrock's most excellent adventure.

Click Here for Adventurous Cane's Videos

Click Here for Roger & Roni's Blog


Tags: Attractions, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, News, and Robert Sutherland Travel Writer

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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