Reflections And Lessons Learned on the North Coast Trail

VANCOUVER AIRPORT, B.C. — A circle of hugs are given to the first member of our adventure team as they depart back home. Ten days ago we greeted each other the same way, without the tears. How did thirteen hikers who came together to challenge the limitations of diabetes change by hiking the North Coast Trail?

Nick Reed a.k.a Trail Dad

"This trip was truly the adventure of a lifetime. I have been calling it my EPIC Adventure hike from Day 2, and it did not disappoint. Bonds of friendship that will last a lifetime."

Geneva Poling a.k.a The Ticketed Painter

"If you take it one shot of insulin and one muddy step at a time, you are limitless."

Allison Mitchell a.k.a Badass Adventure Mom

To be honest, I haven't found the words to describe what the experience has meant to me.  I can't adequate convey the impact that it had on me. To be with an awesome group of people living with T1D and feel completely supported and understood was an amazing experience.  To push myself so far past what I thought I could physically and mentally do was exhilarating. The hiking team means a tremendous amount to me and I miss them. 

Shaleen Humphreys a.k.a Avacado

Being surrounded by such positive and inspiring diabetics taught me that my diagnosis was not the end, but the beginning of a new adventure filled with challenges that I am now better prepared to face. 

Amanda Coschi a.k.a Panda Bear

I don't think a moment of this trip will ever fade from my memory.

Anissa Gamble a.k.a Gambino

It certainly proved to myself I can live in the wilderness while controlling my diabetes and was a stepping stone for my next adventure. LETS BIKE AROUND THE WORLD! Seriously, I'm so happy I got to meet you and the other hikers, it just proved people with diabetes are so resilient and determined, that we live everyone to the fullest!

How to Go On An Adventure Like This

Connected in Motion offers trips called SlipStreams as a way to bring together individuals for weekend trips. Expect a weekend of laughter and friendship as you canoe with a loved one or new friend. Carry the weight of diabetes (and yummy food) backpacking with a team that is there even if you spill propane on your back and get a second degree burn.

You can catch me, most likely, at the Slip Stream happening at the end of October in California, 2017. Sign up here.

All levels of experience are welcome. If you have Peter leading a canoe trip, he spent three months rowing a canoe in the Yukon that fit something like 13 friends. You'll get some good stories out of him.

Help the Connected in Motion team reach their goal of $25,000 CAN by clicking here or the image above

Help the Connected in Motion team reach their goal of $25,000 CAN by clicking here or the image above

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Closing thoughts for this North Coast Trail series.

To the fellow weary traveler,

Reaching the parking lot of the Cape Scott Provincial Park was a silent celebration for me. The two teammates that cycled grueling miles in 108 degree heat, under starry mornings that only happen at 4 a.m., and sat at my side during religious preaches about the rapture were no longer by my side. 

To think that this trip began in Virginia.

Countless chalkboard discussions and conversations on Central Park benches weighed the pros and cons about making the decision to leave everything behind and pivot in life. A few days before starting the bike trip with Dark Roast as the steady stallion, I was offered a job position. A final temptation to drift back onto the road well traveled.

A car half packed with an unfamiliar bike and less than a mile of practice is all the experience for the first day of pedaling. Cassidy dropped me off in the Prius to arrive in Wytheville, Virginia. Taylor shared these words, "Wow. You are real person."

Taylor and Annalisa, my riding partners, are now thousands of miles away from this parking lot in the north west corner of Vancouver Island in Canada. I miss them both dearly.

I pinch out the screen of Google Maps to reveal the borders that surround this small little blue dot. It all started in a city with a population of 8,000,000 people. Along the remote beaches of British Columbia, wolves or bears feel like close neighbors. The diversity of life is marvelous.

The interactions with a group of friends who shared cinnamon rolls together over the last fifty years, church groups that stacked four styrofoam trays of food into my hands and offered a couch for the night, cups of coffee with those that dream of visiting New York and those that dream of burning it down, and rambling conversations with tokers drifting around the road in search of nothing in particular are the patches that form the chapters of this grand journey. Living a life with diabetes is the thread the sews everything together into the bigger picture.

Thirteen people leap over heads and backpacks in a parking lot to give hive fives and show off burns like war stories. A nurse with panda bear scrubs, a professional hockey player (congrats again Gamble), a trail dad, a filmmaker, a trail runner that loves sea otters, a soon-to-be world traveler, a dog owner,  an ankle roller, an ultimate-frisbee playing mom, a cowboy hat wearing canoer, and a crazy guy who biked across the country all came together because of a disease.

We like to say that diabetes doesn't define us. That is true. Who could define any human being in one word?

I am grateful for the disease connecting me to people who know what it is like to be knocked down day after day and decide to keep fighting.

This journey would never have happened if I was not diagnosed.

One day, while on the white couch of my parent's basement, my dad listened to tales from the most recent adventure and said something that is true for every person involved in this community, "You use your disease to go above and beyond what is expected of any normal person."

It has almost been ten years that I have lived with this disease. For those of us deeper in the game, we can forget what we have accepted into our lives at no fault of our own: finger pricks that cause blood to squirt everywhere, midnight feasts to treat lows, the random guess of insulin to cover all the carbohydrates over-treating the low, and all the extra warnings that life sucks a little bit more with diabetes.

These thirteen hikers came out into the wilderness for their own reasons. Each one left knowing that we can achieve anything. 

Every person deserves that mentality. 

Let's explore the world,

 
DiabetesAbroad-signature.jpg
 

-Erik

4,500 miles to reach this parking lot.

4,500 miles to reach this parking lot.

He is biking down the Pacific Coast (starting 09/05/2017)

Go to the beginning of the series: 13 HIKERS WITH DIABETES TAKE ON THE NORTH COAST TRAIL