Trevor Thomas Blind Hiker
Trevor Thomas--aka Zero/Zero
From an early age, I was a staunchly independent risk taker. Part of how I defined myself was through the activities I pursued. I started skiing at age 3. That progressed into a love for all things extreme, whether it was backcountry skiing, downhill mountain biking, and eventually-- skydiving & racing Porsches. In 2005, I was diagnosed with a rare & incurable eye disease that ultimately caused me to lose my sight over a period of 8 months. At the age of 35, I found myself sidelined, not knowing how I was going to exist in a world that wasn't designed for someone who was blind. Very quickly, I realized that I had a grim future ahead of me. Not only was I going to have to learn all the rudimentary skills I would need to function, but as an adult, I had the added stress of not knowing how I would be able to make a living & be independent without being a burden to my family or society. I soon found that societal expectations for the blind were very low, & the people assigned to to help me with transitioning to my new life had little hope for my future & less interest in helping me achieve my goals. The loss of my independence & self worth was devastating. After battling months of depression, I finally made the decision that no matter how I was expected to exist as a blind person. . .I was going to be different.
A friend recommended hiking as a way to regain some of my independence-- something I would never have considered in my sighted life-- hiking was too benign & not very exciting--but at least it was something I could do. I immersed myself in my new pursuit, & upon discovering the world of long-distance hiking, decided that completing a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail would allow me to take back my independence & regain the sense of self worth that blindness had stolen from me. When I set out, I had no aspirations to become a professional long distance hiker, nor did I think I would ever be a motivational speaker. My 2008 thru hike was a personal quest for redemption.
Trevor at the summit of Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park (Maine)-- the official end of the AT
Trevor Thomas, aka Zero/Zero, at the Northern Terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail
My thru-hike started as a way for me to regain my independence after losing it to blindness, but along the way I found that people considered what I was doing to be inspirational. It gave me a chance to educate those that I met, both about blindness and about being blind.
After nearly eight years, nearly 20,000 miles, and numerous thru hikes throughout the United States, what began as a quest has become a career. I still hike to step outside my comfort zone & push the boundaries of what is possible for a blind person to achieve. In addition, I now hike to show that blindness is not the life-ending disease or condition that so many feel it is. My hope is that I can provide hope to those who are afflicted with the disability, & inspiration for them to step outside their own comfort zone to achieve greater heights in their own lives.
Trevor & Tennille self portrait, 2014
Trevor & Tennille on the Mountains to Sea Trail, 2013