Take your time on the Lee McCune Braille Trail on Casper Mountain in Wyoming. This thoughtful resource was created so the visually impaired could hike a wilderness trail and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. It was also designed to help people without a visual impairment better understand what it's like to navigate the world with one.
Thirty-six interpretive signs posted around the short half-mile loop have information printed in both Braille and regular text. At the trailhead, a box of vision-blocking glasses is available for use. These allow non-visually-impaired visitors to use the trail as they would if they were visually impaired. Navigate using the nylon ropes posted along the trail and the instructions printed on the signs. Focus on the senses of hearing, smell, and touch as you put the glasses back on and head to the next sign. Following the trail this way gives you a unique opportunity to bond with your pup, who primarily experiences the world through senses other than sight.
To get to the trailhead, take Casper Mountain Road (WY-251) to Strube Loop. An informal dirt parking area and signage are visible right off of the road. There are no bathrooms at the trailhead, but there is one at the Casper Mountain Trails Center, which is just off the main highway a few tenths of a mile to the south. It's a short walk from the parking area on Strube Loop to the formal trailhead where you will find the signs and glasses.
As you wind your way around the loop, take time to listen to the sounds of the stream, the birds, and your dog snuffling along, finding their own way alongside you. Feel the tickle of a mountain breeze and how the warm sensation on your skin fades when you move from sun to shade. As you walk through the forest, over a bridge, and into a bog area, stop to touch rough tree bark, soft moss, and the textures of different leaves.
The site of the trail was selected specifically for the area's diversity of plant life. Even though your sense of smell isn't as good as your dog's, by filtering out visual information, you might be surprised by the wide array of scents you can detect here in the spring and summer. In addition to pine and sweet wildflowers, you might even be able to detect the smell of wet soil as you approach the water. Feel the rasp of your dog's tongue on your cheek as you kneel down to let the stream flow over your fingers.
You'll go home from your day on the Lee McCune Braille Trail with a richer picture of the world and a deeper bond with your dog.