Tuesday Tales (with Patrick): It was late July in 2015 - I was co-leading a 10-day backcountry expedition with a group of 9 amazing teenagers living with T1D. On day one of the expedition, we were heading from Mineral King to Franklin Lake in Sequoia Nat’l Park. While not a terribly difficult hike, the first day of a group expedition always involves working out the kinks of group travel: adjusting packs, re-distributing weight/group gear, etc. One additional element that has a unique effect on T1D’s is altitude acclimation (in my personal experience, as my body adjusts to altitude, my BG’s either consistently sky rocket or consistently plummet - effects usually last throughout the first 24-48 hours). One of our teen participants was particularly impacted by the altitude change. Despite adjusting basal rates and fueling up with free carbs, she continued to have hypos throughout the first leg of the trek. Suddenly, large storm clouds began to form around us. Normally this would not be a huge concern, but at the time we were traveling on an exposed ridge. I quickly met with my co-lead to devise a safety plan. We came to the decision that she would continue forward with the group (bringing them to a safer, lower altitude), while I would stay with our medical staff member and the affected teen until we were able to get her BG in a safe enough range to continue onward. As the storm intensified, the group pressed forward and the three of us got situated into ‘lightning position.’
After about 15 mins, we were fully immerged in a cloud. Suddenly, we saw something large through the mist heading in our direction - it was a BEAR. Now growing up on the east coast, I had seen my fair share of small, dog-sized black bear in the backcountry...but here we are, sitting dispersed on our backpacks, literally engulfed in a cloud of an electric storm, with a bear the size of a REFRIGERATOR coming right down the trail towards us. I remember nervously laughing to myself, thinking: “Well at least this would be a pretty EPIC way to go…”
In my loudest, deepest voice, I let out a “HEY BEAR!" to make him aware of our presence.
(Continued in the comments...)