Making peace: Adaptive sports help veterans readjust
America is embracing its disabled veterans from more than a decade of war, and in Routt County’s serenity, those wounded warriors have found a place to work through the long, dark process of coming home.
Steamboat Springs Hahn’s Peak Lake Campground still is a work in progress. Despite a massive makeover in recent years, the North Routt County facility is due for another round of construction beginning Sept. 9.
Still, it has come a long way, especially in terms of its accessibility to disabled campers, and people have Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologist Bill Atkinson to thank.
When funds dried up before some of the planned wheelchair-accessible amenities could be finished, Atkinson, a man usually focused on what’s in the lake, helped build a path around it.
“When they did the project, they did the whole campground facility, and I asked how it went. They said they couldn’t afford to do the trail,” Atkinson said. “I said, ‘Well, that kind of sucks.’”
Atkinson was particularly concerned by the problem because of his involvement in Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports and other adaptive sports programs. He’s been volunteering in the Steamboat Springs and Winter Park areas for 20 years.
“It hit home for me,” he said.
So Atkinson did something about it.
He took over that one small aspect of the nearly $500,000 campground upgrade, raising $24,000 through local donations. He landed another $43,000 from Trout Unlimited through a Fishing is Fun grant and, with nearly $70,000 in funding, set about getting the work done.
In the end, he helped add a 400-yard, wheelchair-accessible fishing and walking path around a peninsula that sticks out into the lake. It includes several bump-outs specifically for fishing and is tied into the rest of the newly upgraded, Americans with Disabilities Act-friendly campground.
“There’s been a push to improve facilities, and it just takes time,” Atkinson said. “Hahn’s Peak Lake has been a focal point with the campground and the trail.”
Next up: There are plans for a hand-cycle mountain bike loop at the campground, only adding to its distinction as one of the most accessible campgrounds in the region.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com