Life-long athlete ready to tackle wilderness trail
Christine Selinger plans to be the first paraplegic woman to complete the Nootka Trail. -Photo by U of R Photography Dept.

In late May, Education student Christine Selinger will attempt to be the first paraplegic woman to complete the Nootka Trail in British Columbia.

This remote 35-kilometre wilderness trail winds along the southern coast of Nootka Island and offers experienced hikers the challenge of dense forest, steep beaches and unpredictable weather. Selinger anticipates the trek will take seven to nine days to complete.

"The whole idea behind the trip is to show that a disability isn't an inability," says Selinger. "Just because I can't use my legs doesn't mean I can't do things that everyone else can do."

A life-long athlete, Selinger sustained a spinal cord injury while rock climbing in 2006; however, following a period of recovery, Selinger was determined to get back at it.

"I made a point the year after I broke my back to start rock climbing again because I didn't want to be afraid of it," she explains.

In 2008, she also started kayaking with the Wascana Racing Canoe Club and won national gold medals in both the K1 200m race and the K2 500m race, and this past summer she won a bronze medal at the International Canoe Federation's Canoe Sprint World Championships in the Paddle Ability mixed K2 200m event. She is also involved in tennis, curling, alpine, nordic and water skiing.

In order to complete the Nookta Trail, Selinger will use an all-terrain hand cycle, which is essentially a bicycle that is peddled by hand.

"I would use it the whole way through; however, there are sections where there are large fallen trees that I would have to crawl over, which I can do because I still have function in half of one of my legs. So, I can still crawl and scoot and that sort of thing," she says.

Selinger and the team of six accompanying her will also use rigging systems so she can manoeuvre herself over the trail's inevitable obstacles.

This team includes her sister, who is an adventure guide, a nurse, Selinger's coach, various individuals considered trail experts, and a photographer/videographer who will capture enough footage to create a documentary about the trip.

To reach her goal, Selinger has been training since January and raising money to cover the cost of the trip and hand cycle she needs. Money she receives over and above these costs will be donated to the Rick Hansen Foundation, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for spinal cord injury and improving the quality of life for people with it and related disabilities.

To donate or read updates about the trip, visit: