Hiking in Yosemite with T1D

Featured Podcast Episode
June 29, 2023

I recently travelled to Yosemite National Park in California for a family vacation. I had grown up going there a lot so I knew the park like the back of my hand. There are countless paths for hiking and bike riding so it is a great way to explore.

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in March 2022 and one of the hardest things for me has been transforming my mindset of being anxious with everything I do on a regular basis. I knew that this trip could be a challenge for my blood sugars but I also wanted to be prepared as possible. I have tried different workout routines in the last year but it has taken a lot of trial and error to figure out what works best for me in regards to timing of snacks, length of activity, and so forth. I regularly go to barre classes but I knew I would need something more for this trip. A nutritionist I have been working with gave me a couple ideas to start. For example, in the weeks leading up to the trip, I would go to the gym and practice on the treadmill with an increased incline. I don’t have any hills where I live so I tried to make my own. I experimented with the treadmill when I was in a fasted state before breakfast and after I had already eaten just so I could have a better idea of how my blood sugars reacted. The same for the stationary bicycle. I’m really glad I did because my anxieties weren’t nearly as heightened with this preparation and experimentation.

On the day of our big hike, I wanted to do it first thing in the morning for two main reasons: cooler weather and before a meal so no insulin on board. I had a snack about 10 minutes before we started and then another snack, just in case, as we were about to make our way down. I had worn a backpack to carry my insulin pen in a cooling case, protein bars, water, and my finger-stick unit in case my CGM lost connection. Then I also did a fanny pack for my low snacks and phone. The quick and easy access to Starbursts was a game changer throughout the entire trip!

For bike riding, it was a little different approach. I would always have my snacks on me of course, but if I knew we would be going out again after lunchtime, I would have to approach my insulin dosage differently. Sometimes it would be cut in half and then other days, I would set an alarm for 2 hours to see how it was doing in case there was a fat spike. We would bike ride, walk around to explore, and then ride again. It is just one of those places where you wake up and go until the sun comes back down.

Were my blood sugars 100% perfect that week? No. Did I still enjoy myself and have fun? Absolutely. I can’t always say that about myself so it was a really big deal for me to live my life and do what I wanted to do instead of my anxiety with diabetes taking over. I even managed pizza for two different meals! Both had different results but that’s diabetes in a nutshell. It was the most I had been physically active in probably years! I am proud of myself for not letting fear talk me out of it and becoming more comfortable with what to do and when to do it. It’s a hard shift to get your mindset and I most definitely have been moving at a turtle pace with that, but I’m so glad I had fun and made memories to last a lifetime!