As Steve mentioned a few weeks ago, we packed up the gear and the kids and headed off to the mountains of Southwest Virginia for some much needed back-to-nature time. No cell phones, no computers, no television or Red Box. A chance to detox from the connections that keep us firmly rooted in our busy lives. And also the opportunity to remember that there is a great, big, beautiful world out there and the best entertainment is often the sharing of stories with those with whom we share it.
This was our second foray into the wild with diabetes and to be honest we felt like pros. Meals were planned to the nth detail, the food pre-measured, pre-packaged and pre-labeled, and in some cases even pre-cooked. The load divvied up amongst us. Supplies checked and re-checked. Our plan for managing all things diabetes researched, discussed and settled. All that was left was the leaving.
In terms of blood sugar control, we opted to try something new: dose 100% for the food Lia ate, and use negative temp basals to reflect the increase in activity. This turned out to be a better plan than last year’s and easier to manage. The first half-day, we only put the temp on for four hours and then forgot to renew it, so she battled some lows later in the day. For the rest of our trip, we put on temps for twelve hours before we left for the day and this worked out perfectly for the most part:
By the Numbers (Data from Diasend)
Average Blood Sugars While on Trail: 153
BGs within range: 67%
BGs above range: 16%
BGs below range: 5%
Average daily basal insulin: 8.2 U (a full 2.3 units less than at home)
Average daily bolus insulin: 11.5 U
Average BG correction: 8%
We hiked a total of 22 miles: 8 miles the first day to the top of Mount Rogers; 8 miles the second day to the Scales; and 7 miles the third day back to our car (two miles on VA 603). Both girls did a great job keeping up and staying in high spirits, even when feet and backs hurt from the rocky terrain and from the climbs and descents.
On the first day, Lia hiked all day with her pants on backwards and didn’t even notice until lunch. She also fell over once when having to get over a fallen tree and needed help getting up from her overturned turtle position. Our hike was mostly uphill, and rocky only in places. The night was cold but not unbearable and it took us longer to get up and going on the second day than on the first. We lost time and had to adjust our route by cutting across the park on a horse trail, which in hindsight was a bad idea.
Horse trails, designed for horses, are filled with large loose rocks that are difficult to walk on. The horse trail was four miles long and muddy. At one point, Steve was out front and saw a copperhead snake. He turned around just in time to see Lia nearly step on it! Their quick reaction saved her from a snakebite and a disastrous end to our trip
(and possibly an upcoming plot line for a novel). We were all shaken so much after this that we just wanted to get to our destination and take a load off. The four miles felt like eight and Steve’s near-constant assurances that Scales was “just around the bend,” made Krista and I want to scream.
Change in Plans
We love Southwest Virginia. The beautiful vistas we saw during our three days were some of the most breathtaking views we’ve seen as a family. We saw our favorite friends, the feral ponies of the park. At Scales we encountered 50-60 heads of long-horned cattle, and continued to hear their lowing long into the night when a mama and her young were separated at dusk. Unfortunately, on the second day, our memory card malfunctioned and all the pictures from the first two days were mistakenly erased! We did manage to take a few on the last day.
On our last morning, we awoke to frost and a temperature of 25 degrees! Before the girls woke, Steve and I decided not to spend our final night at the campground as originally planned, but to head to West Jefferson, NC for a night at a hotel. We ate breakfast and everyone was ready in record time. On our way down the mountain, we encountered a young man who was through-hiking the Appalachian Trail with his beautiful black German shepherd, as well as several other
campers who were short-term hikers like us. The last two miles on the road were brutal. We were once again subject to Steve’s continued assurances that the end was “just around the bend.” We were happy to finally see a sign designating the Grindstone Campground.
For all the preparation and work that we put into going on our trip, nothing compares to going to the great outdoors. It sounds like a cliché, but the clean air of the countryside, the reduction of noise and light pollution, allowed us to see things we would ordinarily miss. We noticed each other, our idiosyncrasies and habits, manner of speaking, and things we say. We listen.
And yes, diabetes, our unwanted companion, is always along for the ride. But the planning, preparation and organizing we do in advance allow us to put diabetes second, and Lia and Krista time first.
To say that we enjoyed our trip is an understatement. For three days the girls didn’t bicker, they rarely complained, and we, the parents, did not need to scold. We were surely tired when it was over, but this is the one time a year that we truly reconnect, without electronic intrusions of any kind. We are connected through our disconnectedness. We live simply and purely for these days, and we are better for it. We feel confident that we can plan for even longer trips, even if diabetes has to come along for the ride. It is Lia’s favorite activity that we do as a family and this year it has made me think of the old Steve Winwood song. It is true that life goes on too fast with these trips we hope to slow it down.
“We’ll be back in the high life again
All the doors I closed one time will open up again
We’ll be back in the high life again
All the eyes that watched us once will smile and take us in
And we’ll drink and dance with one hand free
And have the world so easily
And oh we’ll be a sight to see
Back in the high life again”
Metaphorically, that is.
For those interested in our supply lists and menus, here they are:
- Glucose meter w/ test strips, lancet device, extra lancets
- 2 spare infusion sets 2 syringes
- 2 vials of 50ct test strips 1 vial of insulin
- spare meter extra batteries for meter and pump
- glucagon kit spare battery cap, spare cartridge cap
- Emergency info, copy health insurance card, and prescriptions
- glucose tabs
- Dinner on Friday: Fried chicken, potato chips
- Breakfast: Whole Wheat Bagels with cream cheese (with chives, bacon, and sundried tomatoes)
- Lunch: Veggie Burgers, dried apples
- Dinner: Gnocchi with sage butter, bacon, and sundried tomatoes
- Breakfast: Apple Almond Couscous
- Lunch: Ollalie Wrap (spinach and whole-wheat tortillas, cream cheese, roasted pepper pesto, and Israeli couscous, with bacon)
- Dinner: Manly Man Orzo
- Breakfast: Strawberry Almond Couscous
- Lunch: Esmeralda wrap (spinach and whole wheat tortillas with cream cheese, avocado, sundried tomatoes and bacon)
- Roasted Pimenton Chick Peas and Pepitas
- Trail mix
- Juice Beef Jerky
- hard candy (Jolly Ranchers)
- 2 stoves
- 2 pots with lids (1 small, 1 large)
- 1 serving/stirring spoon
- 4 sporks
- 4 bowls
- 4 cups
- 1 cutting board
- ½ sponge
- camp dish soap
- 4 small cloth placemats
- 1 wiping cloth (for drying dishes)