PORT ANGELES — For Ian Mackay, seeing the world at 7 mph can be a joyous thing.
To prove his point, Mackay is leading a group of friends and supporters on a three-day “Sea to Sound” journey along portions of the Olympic Discovery Trail from central Clallam County to Port Townsend.
He’s doing it from his motorized wheelchair.
On Saturday, Mackay and a group of bicyclists, along with a friend jogging along on foot, made their way from the Elwha River bridge east of Port Angeles to the Clallam/Jefferson county line at Diamond Point Road. He said he expected to pick up other riders and walkers at the Waterfront Trail in downtown Port Angeles.
“It’s truly a multi-modal event” Mackay said before Saturday’s trek.
Mackay is paralyzed from the neck down, the result of a bicycle accident in 2008. Since then, he has worked to raise awareness of wheelchair accessibility and to promote the outdoors experience. In 2016, he rode his wheelchair from Port Angeles to Portland, and in 2018, from Idaho to Agnew.
This weekend’s journey, which started at the Camp Creek trailhead west of Lake Crescent on Friday, continues today at 11 a.m. at the Olympic Discovery Trail’s Diamond Point trailhead and follows U.S. Highway 101 and previously-completed trail sections to Discovery Bay.
The group will forgo State Highway 20 for safety reasons, but will pick up the Larry Scott Trail near Four Corners for the trip into Port Townsend.
“The Olympic Discovery Trail is a place I love and I’m out here daily,” Mackay said. “This is just a way I can kind of give back. I can make a group ride and a fundraiser to raise a little money for the Peninsula Trails Coalition. I can show my love in that way.
“And also to encourage people to get the heck out here. We have this wonderful piece of infrastructure in our backyard — the more people who get to use it, the better.”
Mackay’s friend, retired Port Angeles police chief Terry Gallagher, was on support crew duty on Saturday. He said his experiences with his disabled sister-in-law led him to Mackay’s exuberance and desire to live life to the fullest from his wheelchair.
“The thing I admire about Ian is that he gives able-bodied people the ability to see past the wheelchair and see a real person,” Gallagher said. “And I think that’s good for all of us.”
Photojournalist Keith Thorpe can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 59050, or at [email protected].