A note from Maman on the Trail:
Meet Brandy, a human of the outdoors. Brandy lives in Ohio, USA and gets outdoors with her husband and their eight children, ranging in age from 9 to 24, two of which have type 1 diabetes. Here is her story…
On her time outdoors…
We are outdoors 3 – 4 times a week. We are preparing for our first backcountry hiking trip as a family. Gearing up!!! We have been practising and enjoying the local metro and state parks. One thing I had not noticed before is the great diversity of central Ohio. It may be mostly flat but we can find some gems 🙂
We are a family with eight children. They are 24, 22, 19, 17, 15, 13, 11, and 9. Most of the time it’s just our family, but since we have “gone public” with our plans, we have hiked with some friends as well! A fun bonus!
We are planning 4-5 backcountry treks over the summer of 2017. We will be doing Isle Royale NP, Rocky Mountain NP, Great Smoky Mountain NP, Yosemite NP (just Matt and I for our 25th anniversary), and one more but not sure where.
On bringing homeschool into the outdoors…
We homeschool and I had the kids enrolled in an online school that went out of business a week before classes for the 2nd semester started. I needed to come up with a plan for Science and History. I picked studying National Parks, topography, map and compass skills, and Wilderness First Aid. My husband suggested that we go visit some of the places we were studying and try backcountry hiking. It did not take much persuasion to get me to agree. I wrote about this decision on my blog, click here if you want to read more.
On learning lessons in silence and wonder…
On a hike to Lyons Fall in Mohican State Park, Ohio, the younger kids were hiking fast and not being as quiet as they should have been. I have told them many times in the past to be quiet and watch for birds and wildlife. They were not heeding this advice and the kids that were ahead of me came upon a couple hiking. The couple was shushing them and trying to share something, but the younger ones were so “hiking” focused they were about to miss something beautiful.
The couple shared with me that as the kids loudly came up the trail they had scared off a beautiful bald eagle that had been perched in the tree by the river. Imagine my angst that I would not be able to see this majestic bird. The couple shared some bird-watching tips with us and told us to listen for the eagle clicking her beak together. This would be our indicator she was perched in a tree nearby. As we left the couple behind I gave the kids another lecture about quietness and watching and listening for things in the great outdoors. The kids assured me they would try harder and we continued hiking. We all were disappointed that we had missed the eagle #lessonlearned. The rest of the hike the kids were attentive and at the end of the hike we saw the eagle! She was amazing!
On preparing for a big backcountry trip…
We are buying all our gear and researching how to do this! We’ve done day hikes but we’ve never slept in the wilderness! We are hiking weekly about 10 miles each week. Hiking is psychological as well and so we are talking about it everyday and learning all we can. Videos, REI classes, and personal research. You can read about all of our preparations on the blog.
And oh wow! What a range of emotions and feelings! The older kids are trying to get off of work and arrange schedules. They want to be part of it as much as possible. My 17-year old (T1d) and 15-year old are stoked and really looking forward to it. The 13-year old is NOT thrilled. He is happy one minute and not the next! (He is my biggest challenge. He needs lots of cheerleading). My 11-year old is like whatever! And the 9-year old is like Kermit the frog…hops all over the trail and leads the pack. She loves it! She is also T1d.
On hiking with 8 kids…
It used to be a challenge. Now that the kids are older it is not as difficult. When hiking with 10 people it is loud and fun! We have to plan a lot because feeding everyone is challenging. We leave early and get back late since it can take awhile for all of us to get down the trail. Backcountry hiking will be even more challenging. Keeping everyone together and prepared will be interesting.
On type 1 diabetes in the outdoors…
This is the most difficult part of hiking. There is so much to take into consideration. I have to make sure we have all supplies for an emergency or a site failure. I have to have snacks for low blood sugars and glucometer. Before we hike I lower basal rates on the insulin pump and check blood sugars. We monitor them closely so we can enjoy the hike.
My advice is NEVER let this disease stop you from living your life. Live it to the fullest! T1d can be controlled and monitored, therefore you can do anything! Help your child learn to do big things!
On scoring great gear on a budget…
A little Q & A…
Q: What is your go-to adventure snack?
A: Trail mix and beef jerky!! Jolly Ranchers for low blood sugars.
Q: What piece of gear do you never leave the house without?
A: Our day packs!!! We have 2 daughters with type 1 diabetes and we need to make sure we have all the necessary supplies when we are out. My Osprey Skimmer 30* does the trick!
Q: What is your favourite nature quote, and who said it first?
A: “The world is your oyster, go out and find your pearl.” ~Unknown
Q: What one piece of advice would you share with someone who is wary of or new to the outdoors?
A: Start slow and ease into it! Once you start you will become an addict!
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