River bound! But how to pack?

Ah summer! It’s the time of year that lends itself to the great outdoors. In the past few weeks I’ve been cycling, surfing, and camping, and have started to rack up the hours practicing the art known as “sitting on the beach.” Every outdoor adventure also has its unique diabetes challenges associated with it.

Cycling I’ve got down: DexCom is clipped to the handle bars in a little pouch; GU packs are strategically placed in my jersey’s back pocket for easy access.

Surfing is a little more challenging, as I haven’t found a way to take my DexCom with me that I’m comfortable with. Even the water-proof pouches from our local REI don’t seem safe enough for this expensive equipment, mostly because I’m fully submerged half the time from falling off my board. But I do the next best thing which is test before going out, having a small snack if I have any insulin on board, and tucking a GU pack in my wetsuit.

Camping is getting easier too. Last Saturday we drove out to the Anza Borrego desert for a night, and temperatures were in the 90s out there, which is prime for boiling a vial of insulin right out of commission. To combat the heat, we put my insulin in a little pouch that has its very own ice pack in it, and then put that whole thing in our cooler which had about eight refreezable ice blocks in it. In case of lows, my fiancé and I each took extra GU packs, and I also brought a back-up meter and plenty of strips, lancets, alcohol swabs, “just-in-case” syringes, and a Lantus pen. All of this is in case we get stuck out there for some reason (back to the whole “pack what gives you peace of mind” thing), even though it’s only a two hour drive back to San Diego. Ya never know.

I’m feeling good about my level of preparedness for most of these activities. Even though I don’t have them perfect yet, it’s all about trial and error and finding out what works for each adventure. Coming up in just two short weeks though is an event I’ve never had to prepare for and don’t want to take any chances with: my first river-rafting trip!

In mid-July, Jacob and I will head out on the Snake River in Oregon for three days and three nights. Jacob was a river guide for 10 years, and his aunt and uncle are the river company’s proprietors, and the other guests are his brothers and their spouses. So suffice it to say I will be in good hands – I’m not worried about the level of expertise around me, and that’s been good for my peace of mind.

The challenge is planning for three days on boats in blazing heat. I’ve already had some amazing suggestions from readers (thank you Marla!), and plan to invest in a Pelican case as well as some emergency ice packs, but I’m looking for any other advice from fellow river adventurers out there.

My biggest questions are: 1.) Has anyone out there found a way to wear your DexCom receiver while on the river in a way that allows you to click in to it? Since I don’t know how the activity will affect my BGs, I’d like to be able to check my Dex at any time. I’m thinking I will put the DexCom in a waterproof phone case, and then tuck that in to my Tummietote. If we go overboard, it will still be protected and attached to me.

Question #2 is about backups. One parent of a T1D child has told me they always put one set of supplies in one boat and her backups in the other boat, in case one were to flip and lose supplies. Are there any other recommendations for how to do this? And should I also keep a back up of my back up in the parked car back where we start/finish our journey? Or is that overkill?

Any recommendations or suggestions are greatly appreciated – I’m so excited for this next adventure! It’s only a few short weeks away, but I want to be sure I’m as prepared as possible diabetes-wise because I know that is the only way I can fully relax and enjoy myself.

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So are you traveling three days with only breaks for meals and sleep down the river or just doing a couple of runs in the same place? If you’re doing the former, I don’t think you can over-prepare.

I’m sure they’ll teach you all you need to know, but make sure you know all the ins and outs of, well, ins and outs. (How to paddle effectively, how to latch on to the raft, what to do if it flips, where to try to steer yourself if you flip). You should also know what’s coming up (what class rapids you’re going over, hazards in the river, what to do if YOU end up going over the rapids without a raft). But most of all, there is no such thing as having on too much sunscreen or having too much fun!

Hey Tim! My understanding is we’re floating down the river most of the day, stopping for meals and to camp at night. I am confident that I’ll be trained adequately by Jacob and his family on the ins and outs of the actual sport. And I will be very serious about sunscreen (and fun)! I think I’m going to err on the side of over-preparing as you mentioned.

I only mentioned knowing what to do if YOU end up going over the rapids because I did 30 years ago. The wind whipped up,the raft flipped and we were all in the drink. I ended up going over Boxcar rapids on the Deschutes.


I am notorious for over packing Miranda’s supplies, seriously. We just got back from Yosemite camping last week and yes I had enough stuff for about a month lol! No such thing as overkill in my book ;)Have a great time!!

Thanks for the “shout out”! You are going to have a great time. Don’t leave stuff in the car. It will get too hot and be ruined. Shoot me an email if you have any last minute questions.

I love my Frio for keeping insulin cool! I live in Tucson where it’s regularly over 100 degrees for weeks at a time. Just getting into the car in the summer will cook my insulin if it’s not protected. The Frio needs no refrigeration or cooling, only water to soak the inside pocket, and then it works by evaporation. Guaranteed to keep cool in 90+ degrees, for 24 hours I think. They come in all sizes and shapes too.

Have fun!

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