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Nature on wheels: NH trail system brings the backcountry to the disabled

Jun 24, 2011

By Associated Press, Published: June 21

GREENFIELD, N.H. — Chelsea Fernandes steered her wheelchair up and down the forest trail, passing a maple grove, zigzagging over water along a narrow boardwalk, and stopping to look at a beaver-built wetland — a view she never thought she’d experience from her wheelchair.

Considered unique by the U.S. Forest Service for offering the disabled unparalleled access to mountain wilderness, the 2 1/2 miles of trails at Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in southern New Hampshire will open to the public Friday.

“It allows me to be like everybody else, to experience nature like everybody else,” said the 22-year-old, who was born with cerebral palsy. “It allows me to experience life in whole different light and it allows me to get away from my day-to-day routine. And it kind of helps me relax when times get stressful.”

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