What a wonderful update and super useful info! I hope Samson can do this trip when he’s old enough, sounds like an amazing experience!!!
Gratz @Kaelan! Major accomplishment and really great to hear from you! Glad to see you are thriving and doing well!
Welcome to the long distance backpacking club! My wife and I did 400 miles on one trip, and many smaller trips over the years. I also had an amazing adventure about the same age as you doing a 21 day backpacking loop in the Beartooth mountains (Beautiful!). Sounds like you handled it really well, were super well prepared and had an adventure of a lifetime! I remember well the 9 day sections where we had 60 pound packs (no resupply). Once you earn some money and buy lighter gear you will like life better. Our current 4 day summer setup only weighs 21 pounds including food and one quart of water.
Edit - You should update your doc, you can now be a commercial pilot! One less thing diabetics can’t do.
Great post, cheering you for building up endurance before hand and being so prepared. A couple of older women friends of mine (not diabetic) did a loaded bicycle tour from Oregon to S. California. Their bikes and loaded panniers weight in about 85 pounds.
This old type 2 on MDI would like to do a long tour on bikes with them. I just can’t get away, have obligations. I know a bit about learning to manage my BG when exercising. It has changed a lot since 1991.
Unfortunately Old and Obligations seem to go hand in hand.
What a great end of summer trip! Thanks for taking the time to write up such an informative summary. It’s fun to read, you did a good job summarizing the info that keeps the FuDers on the edges of our seats. Keep it going Kaelan!
Good for you! That sounds like an awesome trip! I did a week of backpacking on the JMT 2 years ago (northern half) and its a beautiful area. My dad has done the Mt Whitney half before but I have not. We needed the microspikes and could have done with some more substantial crampons and ice axes rather than trekking poles that year.
Backpacking is awesome for my bg. I can pretty much do half my usual lantus and forget I’m t1. YDMV. I think it will be quite a while before I have time for a vacation like that again with the twins but we might take them car camping next summer. I did the 20k Anker power and that was all I needed. I did bring it into my sleeping bag at night along with my phone and insulin. My dexcom did ok (on upper thigh or arm) but I had enough test strips with me (mostly expired) to go that route if it or my spare failed.
Hope running cross country is going well for you! I ran in high school but wasn’t t1 then. I still do the occasional race but nowhere near as fast.
@Kaelan Congrats on the achievement and the adventure. What were your entry and exit points? Sounds like Kings Canyon to Whitnery Portal (perhaps further on the trail?) I did a similar trip while in Boy Scouts 50 years ago (many years pre-dx). It’s a great memory you’ll keep forever! Thanks for posting your insights and preparations for others to benefit from!
You guys are being supernice!
I am sorry that it’s taking so long for me to answer. I am a high school junior with a ton of STEM classes and I spend 3-4 hours in cross country practice every day 6 days a week so I don’t have a lot of free time.
Below I’ll try to answer all the questions, over a few posts, starting with the D ones!
@Trying, I was really glad to have brought this format also! I normally carry an Anker Mini 3350mAh, which is very compact, in my glucose bag. But, for a long trip like this, it would have made no sense to carry small power banks. It’s super interesting that your small ones failed
The largest that I think makes sense to carry is the 26,800 mAh because that’s the largest you can carry in an airplane: larger they confiscate at security. the 20,000mAh units I carried (with PD) are 13.0 oz, but the same 26,800 with PD is 20.3 oz, so it’s not worth it by weight (the one w/o PD is 17.3 oz, better but no PD, not that it matters for D). Also, because I want to be able to have multiple units for redundancy, I like to 20,000 mAh format better than the 26,800 mAh.
Still, it was shocking to see how little power I used with my iPhone SE. Over 12 days, I used less than 10,000mAh of spare energy.
Definitely! I stored all my battery devices in my sleeping bag at night, and it must have really helped, since the only time I did not I lost 1/3 of the power I had left in one night
I think that helped a lot. My power settings for the trip were:
- airplane mode
- Bluetooth enabled (for looping)
- do not disturb (no notifications except D apps, have to set by hand which can come through)
- Low Power mode on
- 2 iPhone SEs fully set up for Loop, and both paired and tested on my transmitter (thanks to my mom for compiling the app!) [I never used the spare]
- one spare Dexcom transmitter [did not use it]
- one regular Orange Link, battery powered (for looping), plus another full spare, each in a carry case
- one spare Omnipod PDM with included glucose meter, and 150 strips. [hardly used the strips]
- 5 Dexcom sensors (plus starting on a brand new one) [I used 3 of the 5]
- 12 pods (plus starting on a brand new one) [I used one every 3 days, but some other campers used a lot more]
- a limited number of alcohol wipes, a few Dexcom and pod overpatches, some skintac wipes [I did not use the skintac on the trail]
- Accu-check lancing device and a couple of spare wheels [I used my original wheel for the whole 12 days, absolutely love the Accu-check!]
- I normally carry a bunch of spare insulin [FIASP] cartridges in a thermos bottle with plastic water-filled “ice cubes” in it to regulate temperature, wrapped in an insulated thermos bag, and 2 insulin pens, along with a frio bag. This time, the insulin (in vials, not cartridges) and needles (I did take a pen along but I ended up leaving it in base camp and relying on needles like everyone else) were communal across all the campers, and we kept them in frio bags. FYI, when I am on my own, I like cartridges better because, first, they go straight in my pens, but also they are protected by their aluminum and plastic wrap and they pretty much never break.
- 5x Anker 20,000 mAh power banks. I only used one. Now I would only take 3, for 10-20 days (because the 2nd spare could fail). But that is because I loop: I can’t not have power for my phone
Note on FIASP vs Novolog
I normally use FIASP. But we ran out of it during the trip, and, although I know it’s not recommended, I ended up mixing FIASP and Novolog for my last 2 pods (it was a mistake every time). I had no problem at all.
How well my Dexcom worked
Mine also did fine, i.e. I got good readings, but it failed a lot (Had to use 3 spares in 12 days even though I left with a brand new one). I used it on my belly—maybe I should have tried the thigh as you @CarolynA.
Me too: I had close to 150 strips with me (I think some expired ones in the total…)
For the daily insulin use, I also went to 1/2! But I could not really forget I was a T1D because I went up and down: I had to watch it a lot, even with loop, although I was not too worried about night because of loop. I have a problem with night because I don’t wake up to alarms, so that’s always a little dicey for me.
My daily insulin use
I do. I went on Nightscout to collect all the data and show it here. Here goes:
As you can see, my average daily use went from about 59U to 27U for the first week (I was at 25% basal, the rest was food and corrections), but then it went back up to 59U after about a week (I had to go to 125% basal). The last day was a bus travel day and my BG was horrible.
More replies on hiking and other stuff in my next post
@Chris, that is awesome! The Beartooth mountains sound great too: we drove by them on one of our long summer camping trips but only hiked some and did not do any backpacking there: now I wish we had.
That’s pretty amazing.
FYI, here is the gear I had with me (including what I wore):
- Gregory 75L pack plus rain cover, and 6 light stuff bags.
- 1 25 degree sleeping bag (2 lbs) and inflatable mat (1lb)
- 1/2 a tent (shared with another camper) and groundsheet
- 1 mug, 1 collapsible bowl, 1 plastic spork
- headlight, spare flashlight
- spare batteries for all gear (incl. D gear)
- Trekking poles
- hat, sunglasses, 1 spare set of sunglasses
- 3 liter water bladder, 1 liter Nalgene in the side pocket
- 1 pair light closed toed watershoes
- I pair tall hiking boots (I trained with them all the time before the trip)
- 2 T synthetic T-shirts (I wore one of the two)
- 1 long sleeve shirt
- I intermediate top layer, 1 pair long johns (camp/ night)
- 1 pair pants
- I pair shorts (I wore them almost exclusively)
- 4 pieces underwear, synthetic, smallish (used one of them for swimming too)
- 4 pairs double hiking socks (wrightsocks)
- 1 fleece jacket (no shell)
- 1 beanie
- 1 warm neck gaiter and a bandana
- 1 pair of thick wool glove/mittens (you can fold out the mittens to expose the fingertips, great if you need to test!)
- lightweight rain jacket and pants (also for mosquitoes)
- mosquito netting for face (did not use)
Toiletries & meds
- toothbrush, toothpaste
- razor (I shaved every day…)
- glide (for blister avoidance) (I did not use)
- REI blister pack, and plenty of extra moleskin (I used some moleskin, I had only one blister in the whole trip)
- sunscreen, bug repellent
- small bottle sanitizer
- 1 cloth mask, 2 N95s (hardly ever used)
- we shared camp soap among campers
- we had a doctor with us and she was carrying a bunch of med gear so I didn’t
- 1 big bearproof canister full of camp food, that I refilled once when we got a mule train resupply
- all the gear I listed here: I climbed Mt Whitney this summer! - #12 by Kaelan. My D gear was heavier than all my clothes.
@Eric, I am not sure how much it weighed, but it was super light, so much so that I ended up also carrying the backpack of another camper who had a hard time with the climb. We left our tents up and all our sleeping bags, mats, toiletries, etc. It was not going to be a cold day, and there was no rain/wind predicted. No ice expected so we left microspikes in camp.
The only things I brought were:
- headlight (we used it for the first few hours)
- trekking poles (I stopped using them halfway through)
- 3 liters in the water bladder and 1 in a Nalgene
- 1 spare sensor and pod
- 1 long sleeve T shirt in backpack (equivalent to intermediate layer)
- 1 warm neck gaiter
- 1 light rain jacket and pants
- I left with shorts, a T shirt, and a pair of thick wool gloves on
- usual med supplies (poker, strips, phone, spare insulin and needles, etc.)
Some other campers brought more cold clothing, but I am not cold and I did not feel I needed it. We had a satcom with us so we could find out about the weather. If we had been worried about temperature etc., I would have brought pants, fleece, beanie, maybe ground sheet and sleeping bag in case of emergency.
@CarlosLuis that makes sense: 50 lbs gear, 35 lbs bikes, and they don’t need to carry much food. I really hope you find the time to take off too!
I am not a great writer but I tried to share what I would have wanted to learn about it! Thanks very much for the encouragement.
@CarolynA, crampons and ice axes would be beyond me—but I’d love to learn to use them.
I am sure it will take a while before you can take them backpacking… My parents took us car camping several weeks in national parks every summer from the time I was about 2 or so: I think that’s where I learned to really enjoy being outdoors in nature My father tried to get us to backpack as a family (he used to backpack a lot in Europe) but it never took, too bad really.
I am not very good, but I enjoy it. I get shin splints a lot Today I went for my first Tough Mudder 5K with a friend—we ended up first in the batch we were in, along with another team of 2 men who were really ripped!
@TomH, we did a circular hike starting and ending at Cottonwood Pass. One neat thing was that one of the adults on the trip was really experienced in the area, and 2 of the days we went off-trail to cross over from one trail to another.
We were very careful not to damage the land, and followed mostly animal trails.
@TiaG, @ClaudnDaye , thanks for the really nice comments. I was thinking of Samson and Liam when I was talking about other kids! Both of them will be super competent T1Ds by the time they are teens: if they like the outdoors this would be a great trip. Also, I made good friends among the campers: it’s not every day that I meet other T1Ds. It’s pretty nice to have an adventure with other T1Ds because suddenly we are all the norm.
Don’t sell yourself short…writing is a skill and you’ve got it. You’re way ahead of people twice your age when it comes to writing skill. You’ve got a knack for getting the most interesting and relevant info out there concisely. Keep it up, it will come in handy later in life no matter what you end up doing.
Totally agree!! Love reading your posts, @Kaelan !!
Just to follow-up, my small ones, 2500mAh, were not Ankers!! They were non-brand bought off of Amazon which I do not recommend!!
Btw, I also use the iPhone SE 2020 for my OmniLoop/Autobolus, and am so glad I got the smaller phone as the battery lasts 1+ day without a charge. I also use the Apple Watch v4 with Loop and Dexcom complications on the home watch face. It is great for monitoring BGs and bolusing/triggering overides during activity. Its battery lasts 1+ days, if not used with a Workout activity. I use the iSmoothRun on it for running and biking, and it will sometimes use 7%/hour of battery during Workouts.
That’s an awesome post @Kaelan, thanks for sharing it with us!
This doc was very well written. I also climbed Mt. Whitney long before any CGM or even other monitoring equipment was available. That was about 40 years ago. We started at Shepard’s Pass a distance north of Mt. Whitney. Later we discovered this was the toughest pass into the Sierras. We had two vehicles, one at the begging of the trip at Shepard’s Pass and the other at the parking lot on the east side of Whitney. Our first day was real tough since we had to carry all of our water going up Shepard’s. We also went up the West side of Whitney from Guitar Lake.
My T1D seemed to be in control the whole way, only had the finger stick to verify.
A real challenge is to do the Cactus to Clouds hike, an elevation gain of 8500 ft to the mountain tram station or 11,000 if you go to the peak and down to the mountain tram station. This is in just the one day. It is one of the toughest 5 trails in North America. I have done the 8500 ft hike twice.
Be very careful with this hike. Many have run into trouble in so many ways. Again there is no water so all must be carried.
Got it! When we were traveling in 2019 a lot of our off brands stuff failed. So now we are more selective also in our electronics purchases.
I am really happy with mine too (same), also for Omniloop/Autobolus.
That’s cool. My dad has pushed me to do it too. But I think I would lose it or break it quickly.
Really awesome. We only had a bit more than 5,000 ft up on our summit day.
The ‘Cactus to Clouds’ hike is located in southern California. It starts at the Palm Springs Art museum parking lot at an elevation of about sea level. The peak of Mt. San Jacinto is about 11,000 feet. I have never done the hike to the peak from the parking lot, just too much of an altitude gain. We always finish at the San Jacinto Areal tram station at the 8,500 foot level and take the tram down the mountain.
I hesitated to buy it, too, as I didn’t think the convenience would warrant the price! I was wrong! Once tried, it became essential! I mostly only wear it for exercise though, which is a large part of my day. It is pretty durable so I don’t think you’ll break it. Do get the screen protector though.
Hey Kaelan, I have plenty of experience with losing or breaking phones and watches too. I went with the Apple Watch 3 for that reason. The bare bones 3 without cellular is the lowest cost version out there…I’ve seen it on sale at $169. Works well and holds a charge for almost 2 days.