Taking Type 1 Diabetes for a Hike

Posted by katie on Thu, 08/21/2014 - 13:27 in

Climbing Mount Washington in New Hampshire is difficult enough, but climbing it with type 1 diabetes brings on a whole new set of challenges. Preparation for my climbing trip with my father started months in advance. Exercise drops my blood sugar significantly, so I had many questions about how this would work out. How would I be able to keep my blood sugar stable for the eight-hour hike? How many orange juices would I need to bring? Would I have to decrease my basal while hiking?


In the two months before, I tested all of these questions. I walked on the treadmill when my blood sugar was at different levels and tried decreasing and increasing my basal rate. I also tested to see how many orange juices or snacks I would need every hour to keep my blood sugar stable. After figuring all of this out the best I could, it was time to hike the mountain!

Managing My Blood Glucose During the Hike

The morning of the hike, I took a little less insulin then normal for breakfast. We started hiking and after 30 minutes I realized that I should have taken even less insulin because my blood sugar was low already! After that, every 30 minutes we took breaks, I would test and eat as needed. Hiking with my Omnipod insulin pump was great. When we pulled over to the side of the trail it was easy to test and take insulin without a big hassle. I also didn’t have to worry about dropping things like pen needles and losing them on the trail. We made it to the top of the mountain and back with only two lows!

What I Learned from My Hike

Some things I learned from this hike with diabetes that I would recommend to consider are: bring double of everything (how much would it stink to drop your only vial of test strips down a hill?), make frequent stops to check on your blood sugar - especially if you’re not sure how you’re feeling (after a few hours of hiking I felt exhausted and couldn’t tell if I was hungry because of being tired or low), and if you are hiking with someone else, have them carry extra supplies as well (my dad carried extra orange juice, an extra glucagon shot, etc).

Items to Pack:


Snacks with protein                                                             2 Glucagon shots
Extra vial of insulin                                                              Orange juice, sports drink, etc.
Lots of alcohol pads                                                             Glucose Tablets   
Tube of frosting                                                                    Extra Pods (if you wear the OmniPod)
2 vials of test strips                                                               Ketone Sticks
Extra batteries for your meter                                              Lots of water
First Aid kit                                                                           Ziploc bag (to put used test strips, etc. in)