In our discussions about this trip months ago, we discussed Yishai going on a hike with the group using an adapted chair. For those of you who do not know Yishai, you should know that he is not an outdoors- y person. However, during our discussions, he said he was open to trying this adapted chair and he expressed an interest in going on a hike. I was thrilled at his adventurous attitude!
The chair is called a “Gilgalon” named after an Israeli soldier named Gil who was injured during his IDF service but wanted to continue hiking, a very popular Israeli pastime. He designed the chair you see above as a way for him to hike with the assistance of 2 or more people. There is one large, heavy duty, wheel and bars that extend in front and behind the chair to be used by the able-bodied individuals supporting. The idea is that the able-bodied individuals supporting the Gilgalon are mostly pushing a wheel and balancing the device, not lifting and carrying.
To say Yishai was nervous about this would be an understatement, and therefore should not be underestimated how impressive it is that he decided to take this opportunity and roll with it (pun intended!). On the bus ride to the Har Meron trail we discussed two types of regret. There’s the type of regret you have a few hours later, because you are hurt (physically, emotionally, etc) and you wish you did not have that pain or discomfort. However, there is a second type of regret, the kind of regret you have in three months, when you think about an experience you missed. This is the type of regret I want him to avoid. While it would seem that Yishai sitting in a chair and being wheeled around a mountain would not impact him physically as much as the people pushing him, it is not a comfortable experience. Every bump, rock, tree root, or step on the trail is felt by him and, after enough bumps, causes his muscles to spasm. We knew that physical pain and muscular spasms were a distinct possible result of this hike. But Yishai agreed that he did not want to have the regret in three months, or five years, or however far in the future, of having given up this opportunity.
So off we went. To be honest, Har Meron is not the ideal trail for the Gilgalon. The trail circles the top of the mountain. So while the trail does not go up or down, there are still many steps and rocks to maneuver. There are flat sections, but for the most part, it is very uneven terrain. The rest of the group did the hike in about an hour, while it took our team of six staff members and one camper over two hours to complete the trail. While Yishai was in a decent amount of pain, and the foot rest fell off multiple times throughout our trek, Yishai continued to appreciate the amazingness of this opportunity. We stopped at various spots to take in the views and point out important sites, and each time Yishai declared “This makes it worth it.”
Once back on the bus, he declared that while he had no interest in repeating that experience, if he could go back in time, he would definitely still choose to do it. To go hiking in Israel is the kind of experience he only dreamed of having. Even with the pain he felt over the next 24-hours, he has no regret.
I want to say a HUGE thank you to all those who helped Yishai through this experience: Adam, Yaakov, Eli, Avishai, Rabbi Ed, Nissan, and Rachel. Without their help, this experience would not have been possible.