|Award of Excellence
Bob Coomber pulls his chair over a rock during his third day of hiking in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range on September 19, 2014 in Independence, CA.
59-years-old Bob Coomber is an avid hiker. Bob, who lives in California, is different than the usual hiker you see on the trails because he is in a wheelchair. He developed osteoporosis in his mid-30's as a side effect of diabetes, and has been in a wheelchair for over two decades. Last September, Bob attempted to become the first hiker to cross the Sierra Nevada mountain range in a wheelchair. The total hike would be 22 miles, and Bob hoped to make the journey in about one week. Bob rolled up steep trails that were covered in rocks. At each rock that was too big to roll over, Bob would get out of his chair, slide across the ground, pull his chair behind him, and then get back into his chair. After grueling eight-to-ten hour days on the trail, Bob would set up his tent and try get as much sleep as possible. Going was slow, but Bob was determined to make it. However, towards the end of his third day of hiking, he encountered a field of boulders that was about 200 meters long. Bob attached a rope to his wheelchair and then looped the rope around his back. Then he slowly started pulling himself across the rocks with his chair bumping along behind him. Unfortunately, the rock field was too much for Bob to handle. After sitting on the rocks for a few minutes, he made the decision that it was time to turn around. He was afraid that even if he did make it across the rocks in one direction, that he wouldn't be able to make it back across them if something went wrong on the other side. Bob was unsuccessful in becoming the first person in a wheelchair to cross the Sierra Nevada mountain range this time, but he hopes to train for another year, and make another attempt next summer.