Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Hike from Hell

Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. Wanting to do something outdoors. Decide on a hike with kids and dog, including a picnic lunch on the trailhead before we start. The kids are good hikers, completing a 6 mile hike last fall with more energy than we had. So we decide on Hadley Mountain, a nice two-hours-each-way hike with a fire tower at the top for the boys to climb, roughly 90 minutes from home.

My husband goes out for a quick shopping trip for hiking goodies and breakfast while I pack. My waking BG was 123 and was still flat around 2 hours later when he arrived with the breakfast. I ate half a cheese danish and half a glazed donut, figuring my best guestimate for the carbs minus a bit, as we’ll be exercising. We eat and get in the car.

I’m wearing my commando-dork outfit, an LL Bean fly fishing vest with every pocket stuffed: meter, extra strips, new infusion set, four juice boxes, pb crackers, gorp, spare pump battery, sunflower seeds, etc, etc. Plus a fanny pack with the digital camera, dog treats, and two water bottles, one for me and one for the dog. Number One Son (age 11) and Number Two Son (9) carry their own backpacks with water and snacks, and my husband has another with the rest of the snacks, binoculars, bug spray, sunscreen and water for him and Number Three Son (age 6). It’s surprising we even manage to get out of the house.

As we’re driving my sensor high alarm goes off. I ignore it for a bit because I just had the danish, which I know is going to shoot up there. Within 15 minutes it changes its estimate from 220 to 300. Uh-oh, better test. 358. Ugh. Well, still got over an hour before the hike. Three units should do it.

11:30 am - arrive at the trailhead, unpack the picnic, test again. 302. WTF? OK, just half a unit more. No lunch for me, just that diet ginger ale. We coat the kids and us with sunscreen and bug repellent and hit the trail. We see a bunch of tent caterpillars crawling around. The dog amuses herself by eating them and then coming to me for water.

12:15 pm – Damn, it’s hot. Wishing I brought my hat just to keep the sweat from running down my face. Hmm, sweat: let’s test, just to be safe. 47. Oh, shit. Down 3 juice boxes, suspend the pump, wait ten minutes, eat a pack of pb crackers. 12:45 – gotta be better now. 60. All right, another juice box, a handful of dried apricots. Maybe two. Put the pump back on a low temp basal. Keep going, as Numbers One and Two Sons are way ahead now.

1pm. We reach the fire tower. The kids and husband go up. I hang out with the dog, drinking water. The sensor has me at 175. Test : 111. OK, I eat a few more snacks, make the temp basal even lower, and just hang out, relaxing. The kids get a certificate from the ranger in the tower. Number Two Son (the outdoorsman) goes up and down the tower five or six times, then starts exploring the summit with his brothers. I even climb up the fire tower (trying not to focus beyond the metal ladder as I’m afraid of heights).

2pm – shortly after starting back down, I start getting stomach cramps. Well, I’ve drank four juice boxes and a bottle of water. Time to find a little girl’s tree and let some of it out.

2:30 – it didn’t help. Still got bad stomach cramps. Keep walking. Only as we get to the wet, shady section of the trail, they move in. The tent caterpillars, having lured us into a false sense of security by crawling harmlessly along the path on our way in, attack. They rappel down from the trees by the hundreds, aiming for our faces. Number Three Son wants to hold my hand, but I can’t – I’m clutching my stomach with both of them, and besides if we’re two abreast, there’s no way to avoid the dangling critters. Even the dog won’t eat them now.

The cramps increase in intensity. I almost never have stomach problems, and the last time I felt like this, it was right before getting an epidural. Why the hell did I eat all those dried apricots?

The kids look upward and flip out. Literally thousands of the caterpillars are moving in for the kill. Looks like something from an Indiana Jones movie. I fully expect to see a few hikers dangling from the trees, caught by some caterpiller Shelob. Number Two
Son takes one in the face and screams. Husband tries to calm the kids by speaking calmly, and eats one. Twice.

They’re all walking way too fast. I check my BG again, 170, so the cramps are only indirectly diabetes-related. Damned juice boxes.

Number One Son grabs Two by the shoulders and propels him forward as a human shield. Two is shreiking, One is laughing – and suddenly it’s reversed, as a kamikaze ‘pillar hits One’s open mouth and he does some impromptu break-dancing. Lord, I wonder how this will look in their autobiographies. Our kids are never leaving the house again.

3:30 – kids are ahead with the dog, trying to find the end of the trail and our caterpillar-free car. Husband is walking with me, holding my elbow as I’m bent almost double. I brush three caterpillars from my hair, find one on each shoulder of the vest like some epaulets from a goddamn caterpillar army.

The stomach cramps reach their logical conclusion and I dash for the trees, ignoring the bugs, only hoping I don’t squat in poison ivy.

We make it to the car, climb in, and pass out the cookies, ice tea, etc, we’d left in the cooler. I eat one, then reach for my meter. 245. Correct and add in that cookie. Laugh each time a caterpillar splatters on the windshield.

It’s fifteen minutes to the nearest fast-food joint. While my husband goes in for a coffee, I dash for the ladies room and stay there. Then I make it all the way home, where I lock myself in the bathroom for two hours, and don’t even attempt to eat anything until some toast about nine pm.

The next day, two of the boys broke out in a rash that looked like the start of poison ivy. Luckily it faded after a day, only a reaction to the bug spray. The kids have developed a fear of caterpillars. The dog won’t even try to get in the car anymore. And me? Tomorrow Number Two Son and I leave for a weekend camping trip at Lake George.

We’re bringing hats.


Scott K. Johnson said...

Hey Val,

Great story - though I'm sorry to hear about the troubles with BG's and the cramps!

I had to comment on just how entertaining and amusing I found all the stuff about the caterpillars! :-)

Michko said...

Yes, very amusing! I'm grinning ear to ear!