iNatting / nature hikes while injured / handicapped

Ah! A fellow spoonie!
My physical health may be better, and my mental health too, but I still have to count my spoons every day. Having an invisible chronic illness sucks hard.

For those unfamiliar: Spoon Theory


I have problems with my hands/arms shaking sometimes. When I’m out birding with my mom she will let me stand behind her and rest my elbows on her shoulders (I’m taller than her) if I’m having trouble holding up my binoculars without shaking.

I have a 75-300mm zoom lens on my dSLR. I have problems with blurry images with my shaky hands and having to go out when it’s not too bright outside. Recently I was given another zoom lens from a friend when she upgraded. It’s also 75-300mm but has a larger diameter lens. It’s heavier, but it has an image stabilizer and the larger diameter lens lets in more light allowing for shorter shutter speeds. I end up spending less time holding it up trying to get a decent image, so the extra weight doesn’t really bother me.


I notice that myself too. For me I think it’s because when it’s something I enjoy it’s easier to ignore low grade pain.


Kudos to all those coming up with great ways to deal with mobility issues! I want to go back to a point that was made early on in the thread, iNatting by car. My husband and I are usually looking for wildflowers, and one of our favorite things to do is to find a quiet road, say in a National Forest, where we can creep along in the car and point out flowers to each other. If weather allows, having the windows open helps to eliminate reflections on the glass, and you can hear bird sounds, too. If you have a “kindred spirit” driver who enjoys nature as much as you do, you can see a lot without getting out of the car.


I’ve done that on quiet backroads here in east Texas. There are a lot of large pieces of property around here so there isn’t much traffic on the county roads. There are lots of wildflowers at the edges the roads cut through the stands of mostly pine trees. We also will go down to the coastal plain south of our piney woods to look for birds along the roads, perched on powerlines and fences. I tend to get carsick though if I look right down at the wildflowers while the car is moving. I will look up ahead to see if I see anything interesting and ask my mom (my naturalizing buddy) to stop when we get there and I will walk for a short distance before getting back in the car. If we are looking at birds, you can scare them if you get out of the car so we will stop (not too close) and look out the window.


I got mine from Hornbeck Boats (, up in the Adirondacks. A quick search on ‘ultralight kevlar canoes’ also turned up Ultralight Paddling (, and there are probably more. Ultralight Paddling got my attention because of the number of options, including comfortable seats, a removable yoke which they say “Also doubles as extra support for entry/exit”, and a kneeling thwart (might also help with entry/exit?)

I hope you can get a canoe like this! Although I’m guessing they are too light for a trolling motor - but they would be great for creeks.


On my iPhone, if I take a photo I can then add a voice to text note to it by viewing the photo, swiping up to reveal the “Add caption” option, and hitting the microphone under the keyboard. Not sure if that would work for your purposes.


That’s now 2 years I don’t walk with a canne except when I know I am walking far in in the mountains, after 2 back operations, I know I am very limited in what I can carry, I chose to treat myself to a super pair of binoculars which can be used in less than 2m ( when looking at butterflies and Odonates…) and bought a small compact camera I have on my belt (panasonic TZ71…). A friend lent me his FZ200, very nice and not the weight of a reflex with big zoom, but I feel the difference after walking 3 hours with it… So I accept I cannot use a Reflex and accept that I cannot have a compact heavier than a FZ200, the TZ71 has a great Zoom, but you cannot get the thing to work manual, bad days you wonder if it doesn’t have a life of its own… So still looking for a compact that could do the job like very fast autofocus, and if needed pas to manual focus


My camera and telephoto lens together weigh about 5 pounds (2 1/4 kg) which can feel like a lot after carrying on a long hike. Some of my arm and shoulder problems over last couple of years may be attributable to that. My concern is that at some point in near future I won’t be able to stabilize the thing enough to get decent photos any more. My wife bought me a nice monopod to use with the camera which most of the time I don’t take with me because it’s just another piece of gear to lug around. But I’m about ready to start using it. I know other photographers, very good ones, who are not handicapped in any way but always use a tripod or monopod to get their shots. I should follow their lead.


If your monopod can be used as a canne, it could be worth trying…


Did you consider buying mirorrless camera and lens for it? They should be weighting smaller than that.

Hiya trh_blue! First, I want you to know that you aren’t alone in this struggle! I am partially disabled due to chronic illness and pain, and I am constantly having to get creative!

It has gotten to the point where I cannot really be in the field alone. My partner typically accompanies me and helps out by carrying my backpack (which I cannot carry without a lot of pain) and making sure I don’t faint, fall, or injure myself. He’s also really helpful when I get stuck in a squatted position and can’t get up! ;P

I additionally have temperature dysregulation, so I wear ice gel packs in summer and heated gear in winter. About 3/4 of the time, I do have depend on a cane; I still haven’t invested in a tripod cane. I don’t carry additional lenses or equipment outside of my camera/macro lens combo. On bad days, it is painful for me to hold my camera (which is quite heavy).

Side note: I have a Facebook group for nature enthusiasts &naturalists with chronic health/mental health issues. It is called Spoons for Shrooms and Blooms! If anyone is interested, we’d love to have you:


@astra_the_dragon @lappelbaum Yay! Other people use this terminology too :D

I wanted to link here to a supplementary file from this excellent paper written by @klodonnell and two others, which covers some accessibility issues and solutions for using iNat.


“I’m starting to use a rollator when going out. I can go a lot farther with the same effort, and have a nice, stable seat any time I want. Problem is, it only works on pavement or smooth grass. I’m saving up for one designed for off-road use, with huge tires and a suspension system/shock absorber.”

Update: I purchased an off-road rollator from Trionic, and it’s amazing! Going over gravel feels like walking on pavement. The front wheels are offset, designed to go over curbs/rocks/any other abrupt changes. I carry gear in the basket, and can bring more weight than I could otherwise. I’m going places I haven’t been able to get to in years. Happy!!!


Update! I got a Tucktec folding kayak for my birthday. Only 20 lbs! Tried it out on our lake yesterday. I need to fold it and unfold it more times so it will be easier to fold in the future. It is much easier to move from vehicle to launch when unfolded and rolled up. Also rolled up I can fit it in my car and don’t have to borrow truck/SUV. Now I can meet up at various locations with friends who have their own single seater kayak.

First place I want to go is another lake not too far away were there have been Limpkin sightings (rare here). I tried to find them walking around the lake. It’s an oxbow lake in a heavily wooded area so I couldn’t just look from a distance to find them. I way overdid it by walking 3 miles. Took a couple days to recover and no Limpkins for all that work. Did see lots of open mussel shells though.


I’m so glad that this conversation exists. I’ve felt kind of self-conscious, being out on the trail with my forearm crutch. Knowing that there are a group of people who understand really helps. :green_heart:


This thread being active since 2019 shows just how many of us iNatters have physical challenges. And I think there’s a similar still-active thread for neurodivergent folks.

I wish more outings were planned with people like us in mind. It’s a feedback loop - outings are planned for the physically able, so we don’t go, so we become invisible, so outings are planned for the physically able…

If I had more energy I would work to change that, at least locally.


In this vein, science reporter Ed Yong has recently gotten really into birding and started a birding club for people with long covid. Would be cool to see more groups like that.


Regarding cameras that are small with fantastic zoom, I’d recommend the SONY DSC-HX99. I do not use GPS on mine (I get coordinates with my phone, usually using Gaia), but it’s a great camera for hiking and trail running. To demonstrate, while I could see this view with my phone:

I was able to see this bear with the camera:

And this wasn’t on a terribly bright day. It was raining.