13 Hikers with Diabetes Take On the North Coast Trail

Every endurance athlete has someone they think about to help push through tough times. Here is a story about one child who's face appears when everything is going wrong...

The first time it hit me that people do not understand life with type 1 diabetes was when I had to tell a mother that her newly diagnosed son has this disease for the rest of his life.

Being younger at the time, I had settled into my relatively new condition that many confuse for one of poor diet and lack of exercise. People hear “mumble, mumble, diabetes,” and scrunch their face trying to put the pieces together how this seemingly fit guy has a disease associated with overweight and elderly individuals.

The reason it feels like putting a key in the wrong hole is because I did nothing wrong to get this condition – it happens by fate. What a lottery to win.

A nurse walks in while I am speaking to the diabetes doctor and asks if I would like to meet a child who was diagnosed moments ago. My smile and general optimistic view on life makes me a nice spokesperson to say, “Welcome to the club.”

There was a certain anticapatory silence in the room. Doctors must get used to this.

What I was told before heading into the room was the child had been brought in for something completely unrelated. You walk in for one thing and come out with a chronic condition, bummer.

Looking at the eyelids of the mom fighting off tears like the levee on a river, I tell her, “Do not worry, we can achieve anything.” She stares back, wanting a cure to the common cold, and asks, “So how do I have to treat this until it goes away?”

“It lasts a lifetime...”

Now, a group of thirteen hikers in the diabetic community come together on the North Coast Trail to prove that we really can achieve anything. One of the people I push on for is that child who had such an abrupt welcome into the diabetes club. Do not worry kid, you’ll be alright.


North Coast Trail - Intro.jpg

This series describes the day-to-day challenges and learning moments that comes from a trail described by B.C. Park's website as "extremely muddy and difficult to traverse." The group consists of type 1 diabetics including one who has celebrated life with the disease for over twenty years, while another team member had their diaversary (one year anniversary with diabetes) during the first night.

About Connected in Motion's Adventure Team

Connected in Motion is a Canadian non-profit established in 2007 with a mission to bring people living with type 1 diabetes together through outdoor programming. The Adventure Team of 2017 set a goal of raising $25,000 CAN to continue offering these trips to a wider audience across Canada and The United States. You can make a pledge and read each team member's bio by visiting the Adventure Team homepage.

Connected in Motion Adventure Team (left to right): Blair Ryan, Geneva Boliek Poling, Erik Douds, Alicia de la Rosa, Allison Mitchell, Anissa Gamble, Olivia Power, Nick Reed, Shaleen Humphreys, Amanda Coschi, Jen Hanson, Peter Vooys, and Hank DeVos (not pictured)

Connected in Motion Adventure Team (left to right): Blair Ryan, Geneva Boliek Poling, Erik Douds, Alicia de la Rosa, Allison Mitchell, Anissa Gamble, Olivia Power, Nick Reed, Shaleen Humphreys, Amanda Coschi, Jen Hanson, Peter Vooys, and Hank DeVos (not pictured)

About the North Coast Trail

The North Coast Trail is a 52km through hike from Shushartie Bay to the Cape Scott Trailhead on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. This is no walk in the woods, relatively speaking. A small ferry taxi is required to reach the rocky coast of the trailhead. A cliff with a thick rope up the face begins the trail.

The challenges continue as mud pits, fallen old growth trees, pebble beaches, ropes, cliffs, and other obstacles present themselves on the trail - everyday.

Anyone willing to slip into the recommended rubber boats or appropriate hiking boots is rewarded with the rich diversity of old growth trees and wildlife that thrive in the temperate rainforest and rocky shores.

Visitors can expect to see top predators often hidden from society such as bears, wolves, pumas, killer whales, and bald eagles. The Kermode bear, or "spirit bear", also forges in these woods and is known for its white fur and mystic qualities. 

How long does it take to hike the North Coast Trail?

The B.C. Parks service recommends a minimum of 5-days on the trail. Expect a crawling pace of about 1km an hour, significantly slower than what hikers are used to. The Connected in Motion team spent six days in Cape Scott Provincial Park. Including ferry rides and driving, the entire trip took ten days.

Puma jaw (photo by Blair Ryan)

Puma jaw (photo by Blair Ryan)