View Full Version : Type 1 Diabetic Thru Hike

03-07-2016, 17:37
So I'm totally new to this forum deal- took me the better part of 2 hours to find where you post a thread and I may not be able to ever find it again so I'll try to get all the good stuff in:

As the title says I want to get a thru hike in at some point during my life, the sooner the better. Also, as it says, I'm a type 1. I've been dealing with diabetes since it's 15 (23 now), and I've always kept my bs where it needs to be, at least as well as you can.

I've always wanted to hike it, even since I was a little kid with a functioning pancreas, haha. But I never really had much of a chance for it. I can't really say that I necessarily have a chance now, but I feel that if I don't just do it I'll miss it forever and I don't want to risk that. What I think will happen is I'll end up taking the trip starting early(ish) March, 2017.

My big question is what's the best way to deal with insulin? I'm on Novalog and Lantus, Novalog should be boiled, but Lantus actually needs to stay cold. I want to do this while carrying as little weight as possible, obviously.

I've heard of people keeping small stuff cool by carrying a thermos with ice packs, seems like a decent idea but I wouldn't want to risk said ice packs melting.

Any ideas and advice welcomed.

Thanks dudes,

03-07-2016, 18:50
Check Frio coolers on the Internet. Search WB for insulin.

03-07-2016, 19:01
Heath and safety would be the proper forum.

This topic does come up from time to time. My understanding is you will have a very hard time managing your insulin and sugar levels on an extended hike, above and beyond just keeping the insulin cold. You may have to be content with doing short trips which are easier to manage and in fact should be done first to gain some experience with the problems you might encounter but not be too far from help should it be needed.

For short term, say a couple of days, you could use a freezer pack and a Styrofoam box you can make from a larger cooler. Or one of those cold "lunch box" things might work. It would also help if you avoided hiking in hot weather, but that might be hard seeing your in Georgia.

03-07-2016, 21:24
You also have to protect Lantus from freezing. At the end of March in the mountains you will still encounter cold weather. As others have stated, intense exercise coupled with trail diets make blood sugar control doubly tough. The best hiking foods are carb heavy and that's a significant potential issue. Many hikers, including myself (type 2) check blood sugar levels as much as every two hours.

Take your introduction to extended hiking slow until you know how you body is going to react. It almost goes without saying, but you really should't hike solo. I love to be in the woods by myself, but I won't do it!

03-07-2016, 22:12
I backpack regularly with my type 1 son. Frio wallets work well for insulin. Managing resupply will require some extra care. My son manages his blood well enough I wouldn't discourage him from going alone, okay, I'd discourge him, but not stop him. If you screw up, you're dead, but that's the way it always is with type 1. The first few days can be rough figuring out how you're body reacts, lots of testing, lots of snacking, feeding lows, but, with all the exercise, at least in the case of my kid, his numbers do pretty well. I would be much more leary of backpacking if there is any hypoglycemia unawareness. It's easier for us with a CGMS, but a CGMS is certainly not a requirement. Unlike with type 2, we rarely find food types an issue as long as he's counting carbs well.

03-07-2016, 22:40
Resupply is going to be difficult if you need to limit carbs. If you don't limit carbs, you know the drill. I would suggest that you visit several different sequential places along the trail that you would try to purchase resupply. I believe that many of the places will cater to non-diabetic hikers and offer what you cannot safely eat. That is what I found when I hiked Georgia in November. Sections may be a better goal, until you get the resupply issues solved and have a handle on how many grams of carbs you want to eat for each meal and how much insulin you will need. My type 2 without insulin was difficult to control. I can consume cooked chicken in foil packets from Walmart safely. At the Save-A-Lot in Hiwassee, All I could find was cooked chicken in cans. It is better than no chicken, but creates more packout trash. Hiwassee was the best diabetic resupply point I encountered. Most of what I found at the smaller loacations was limited to high carb food. No experience with insulin, so far.

Mail drops of safe food would help greatly. We may need to carry a couple of days of extra food at times to make certain we have supply. Better 3 or for extra pounds on the back than 100 extra mg/dl in the blood stream. Roller coaster levels from insulin and carbs can't help.

03-07-2016, 22:49
Check Frio coolers on the Internet. Search WB for insulin.

Sorry about the abrupt response, I was on a bus.

Look at Frio wallets, http://www.frioinsulincoolingcase.com/ . I've used one to keep my pens cool in the summer, I don't think that they've ever pushed the upper temp limits in the wallet.

Like Grumpy says you have to keep insulin from freezing. While hiking in the cold keep it in an inside pocket or if its not too cold insulated with your sleeping bag in your pack, etc. I've evolved to a "do not freeze bag" (actually the mesh bag my Snow Peak pot came in) while tenting - contains my pens, glucometer, AquaMira, phone, camera, etc) - it keeps everything together while sleeping with it. Phones and glucometers don't like <32*. It is fun exposing parts of your body to freezing temps to inject. Heresy I know, but you can inject through a base layer.

I started this three years ago, thanks for giving me an excuse to bump it up, http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/93725-Diabetic-thru-hiking-logistics . I haven't advanced it much, my thru seems to be receding into the future. If you search on insulin there is a lot of info here on WB.

I'm a very well controlled T2 (last A1c 4.9) so I have different concerns than you. Again, hike and test frequently at first until you figure out how your body reacts. I only test at mealtime and bed time, really just to have the record. I usually hike alone; if I'm with someone I let them know. I wear a red dog tag and have one on my right boot (old habit) and pack with info on them. I carry a card with my ID. My concern on my last long solo wasn't the T2 but getting hurt on the rocks.

Others have done it, just take your time and figure it out for you.