As of today, it is officially Autumn. Whether you’re excited about that or not, it’s here. To be honest, I can’t decide if I’m excited or not. I love watching the leaves turn into hues of yellow, orange, and red. Breathing in the crisp air as the sun still filters through, but it’s still cold enough to wear a sweater. All of that is great, except snow fall comes after fall here in Minnesota and that is what I’m not excited for.
One of my favorite things about fall is the outdoor activities… mainly hiking. It’s pretty flat and rolling hills in Minnesota, but there are some areas that allow for great hiking. And if you’re not into climbing rocks and steep inclines, there are plenty of state parks that allow you to leisurely walk on clearly defined trails.
Before The Adventure
Over the weekend, my family decided to take our dogs to a nearby state park (Glacial Lake State Park). This is the ideal state park near Starbuck, Minnesota for leisurely walking around and taking in the views. One of the most important things to do before your hiking adventure is to prepare.
Let’s just say that we weren’t super prepared.
Disclaimer: My family hikes quite a bit, so in this case we were totally comfortable going into this park unprepared. Additionally, this state park has camp grounds so if something were to have happened, we could have found help.
Preparation Is Key
The first step in preparing for any adventure is figuring out what type of hike/walk you’re looking for. Do you want to scale the side of a mountain? Run alongside a river? Walk with the wildlife through the prairie? Figuring out what you’re interested in doing allows you to decide what equipment and gear you’ll need for the adventure.
For example, the walk that I just went on near Starbuck had a few hills and dirt paths. This was the first time I’d brought my six-month-old puppy on a more hike-style walk. She was ecstatic. Jumping in the lake, running through the weeds, and charging down the hills. My pup is around 50 pounds and full of muscle. AKA a very strong dog when she pulls.
As we were going down the dirt paths, she decided to full sprint down the hill. I am not as fast as my pup or strong, which meant I had to let her leash go to prevent myself from being drug, face-first down this dirt path. Lesson learned: when doing bigger hikes, use a leash that attaches to my waist so that I have more strength to keep her close. (This might work, or I’ll still get drug face-first, but we’ll never know until we try).
Once you decide the intensity of the hike that you’re going to do, then you can decide what you need to haul with you. In a leisurely walk, you’ll most likely only need a water bottle, secure shoes, medication (if needed), and possibly a snack. What you wear is entirely up to you. I typically wear running leggings, a t-shirt, and bring a light jacket (depending on the weather).
Disclaimer #2: I would call myself a decent hiker, however, when I hike, I don’t look like the typical hiker. I wear my Nike Running shoes, not hiking boots. I’ve always wanted some, I’ve just never made the purchase. Therefore, if you ask an avid hiker what to bring, you may get different answers. But, if you’re just looking for some pretty views, a good workout, and fun time, then come to me for all your basic packing essentials. If you’re looking to climb Everest, I am not your girl.
When going on a medium length/intensity hike, I would recommend bringing a fanny pack style bag. One that you can strap to your waist to allow yourself to still be hands free if needed. I like to attach my water bottle to whatever style bag I’m using. Otherwise, you can still carry it and hook it when you need to use both hands.
Inside your waist bag you can store snacks, band-aids, medicine, your cellphone, a map of the area, car/house keys, and any small item you’ll need for the hike (I never leave the house without Chapstick, so that would definitely be in my waist bag).
If you really want to get moving and plan on doing a full day hike, then you’re going to need more than just a fanny pack bag. You’re going to want something more similar to the size of a school back pack. Here is a list of some items to place in your back pack (of course pack anything else you might need or want):
- Water (always bring extra water so you don’t run out)
- Cellphone (in case of emergency…hopefully you’ll find an area with reception to call for help)
- Camera (optional to snap those wonderful landscape photos)
- A meal
- Sandwich, trail mix, fruit, veggies, anything you’d like to munch on
- An ice pack to keep your sandwich and meal cool from the heat
- Band-aids, alcohol wipes, disinfectant spray
- Bug repellent
- Sun screen
- Binoculars (to see those magnificent critters a little closer)
- Optional: emergency gear
- A knife, whistle, compass, matches, blanket
- Pack medications that you typically take during the day (or during the time that you’ll be gone on your hike)
- If your medication needs to be kept cool, then be sure to keep it next to the ice pack for your food. If you’re not a fan of that, pack a medication bag with an ice pack in there and place that inside your back pack (I mean who doesn’t love bags inside of bags inside of bags?!)
Hiking With Diabetes
As with most activities, people with diabetes have to think a little more carefully about what they are doing, how long they will be gone, what snacks to bring, etc. Hiking is no exception. With activity, blood sugars become unpredictable. So, here are some tips to guide and remind you for your next hike:
- If you’re hiking with a group, inform them about your diabetes. If you don’t want the entire group to know, then tell one person. In the situation that something happens, they will be able to help and tell the other’s what to do.
- Make sure to wear a medical ID bracelet or identification card. With or without a group, this a good idea to wear in case of an emergency and someone needs to help you.
- Test your blood sugars often. Ideally, more often than at home. If you stop to look at wonderful view, take a peak at your CGM or sneak in a quick finger prick to test.
- Carry more snacks than normal. If you keep running on the low side, you’ll want to bring your blood sugar levels back up to your normal range. Toss in some Glucose SOS packets, glucose tablets, or your favorite low snack.
- Of course, WATER! Include extra water to prevent dehydration and cramping
- Bring your own diabetes kit:
- Anything you use to administer or monitor your insulin and blood sugar levels should be packed, including some extra. (needles, pens, pumps, pods, sensors, test strips, lancets, etc). Seriously, you’d rather be over prepared and carry some extra weight around, instead of running out supplies in the middle of the woods.
- Pack saline solution or disinfectant spray to clean cuts quickly to prevent infection
- It’s important to clean your hands before testing blood sugar, but this isn’t always possible on hikes. Therefore, pack some hand sanitizer to get your hands as clean as possible for the current situation.
- If you’re going on a multiple day hike, be sure to pack enough insulin
- When hiking with your insulin, be sure to bring something to keep it cool. If it’s sitting inside a back pack with the sun shining on it all day, chances are that it’ll get pretty warm in there. Be sure to use a diabetic kit that has room for an ice pack to keep your life saving medication cool.
After all the preparation and decision making, it is time to go enjoy your fall hikes. If you have any questions about different equipment, clothes, or places to go reach out in the comments or social media and I will give you my insights!
Made for your Health