Solo in the Grand Canyon w/ T1D

Arizona is the homiest place on earth. She has provided me the sight of stars and mountains and rock features and volcanoes; the smell of dry heat and cool wind; the feel of comfort and adventure; the taste of natural air and the outdoors; and the sound of solitude in the midst of crying elk. When I look up and around and down I am in awe of the lack of development and light pollution.

But how do I survive the vast climates and weather of the desert while living out of my rental car solo AND as a type 1 diabetic???? Easily, but with prior preparation!

Insulin Management:

The south rim of the Grand Canyon is at about 7500 ft elevation. For me, higher elevations make my blood sugars drop more drastically. Thus, I lower my regular day basal ratio 30% during the day. When I go for a hike or am active in some other physical manor, I lower my basal 40-60% (varies based on adrenaline level and elevation change).

When hiking or backpacking, I will give insulin for my snacks but will only account for 60-75% of the carbs I am eating. Specifically with the Grand Canyon, my day hikes consisted of hiking down into the canyon, stopping for lunch or a larger snack then hiking back up and out of the canyon. Thus, I account for 75-80% carbs going down, but only 60-70% coming up- remember that elevation factor!

Water intake also heavily affects blood sugars. My sugars rise when I am dehydrated. But don’t just drink for the sake of your diabetic health. Remember that dehydration can lead to many health affects like dizziness, loss of appetite, heat stroke, etc. STAY HYDRATED!!!! Specifically for the Grand Canyon, water is sparse if you do not come in the summer season. Of course, I came just days before the summer season began. Thus, the visitor center had yet to cut on and import available drinking water. However, the villages near Bright Angel Trail did have water! YAY! I accidentally left my 6L MSR dromedary in California, so I had to stick with water bottles. Luckily I could hold 7.5 L total with all of my bottles collectively. Since I was camping outside of the park and any other neighboring towns, I filled all of these bottles before heading out to find a sleep spot!

This is something easy, but easily forgettable- water. My suggestion is to also have a designated car bottle that is always full. This provided me comfort if a dire situation were to arise.

Camping Diet:

Breakfast: Protein packed Cereal Bowl (protein is a great morning nutrient because protein works over time and also rises blood sugars over time, so I eat high protein breakfasts in order to start my hike with a food that does not result in a crash and releases it’s powers more slow)


Total carbs: ~55-60 g carbs (full insulin amount given at breakfast)

Snacks/Lunch: I do not typically eat a real lunch when hiking, instead, I eat a series of small snacks once an hour for my entire hike.

  • Larabars (raw vegan bars packed with GREAT nutrients) (22-27 g)
  • Green Juice (stay hydrated and get my greens in!) (7-41 g (every brand is different))
  • Kind Pressed pineapple kale bars (more greens, raw vegan, so delicious) (27 g)
  • Pear or Apple (this is almost always the first snack I eat so I can rid of the extra weight in my pack immediately) (12-25 g)
  • Sunflower seeds, roasted & salted (it is SO IMPORTANT to keep up with your salts on big hikes like this due to the amount I am sweating out, lack of salts can affect your emotions, mental clarity and energy levels)
  • Gu Energy Electrolyte Chews– I am sponsored by GU, but I swear by these chews or any other electrolyte tabs y’all may be accustomed to. Electrolytes, as well as salts, are SO important to maintain good bodily function during strenuous activity. Thus I would bring 2 packs of 10 chews with me and eat 2 every hour. I used to wait until I needed them, and I realize now that it is way better and healthier to stay ahead of the game and always feel great especially when traveling alone!

Post-hike snack: Grains! This time I had couscous, soaked in water overnight (didn’t bring my pocket rocket camp stove) with nutritional yeast and green pepper

Dinner: Honestly, I am never too hungry at dinner since I eat so much during the day. Since I was living out of my car and camping in the National Forests surrounding Flagstaff, I would either eat a couple larabars for dinner or I would go into town and get a smoothie bowl with some type of protein and greens.


My Gear:


  • Omnipod (I bring enough for 1 pod every 2 days despite them lasting 3 days so I have extras, I also account for 1 extra day of my planned trip) & extra batteries
  • Dexcom & charger chord, except when I lose it, I use my Omnipod PDM to manually test my sugars
  • Humalog insulin pens (enough to fill every omnipod plus 1 pen, ya know if every single pod broke)
  • Frio case, color purple, 2 pen and 4 pen cases- 2 for day hikes and 4 to keep in the car
  • Glucose tabs (raspberry flavored)
  • Alcohol swabs, 10 per day for every day plus 1 day extra
  • Handful of lancet needles
  • Handful of pen needles
  • 2 glucagons with syringes for small doses if ever needed
  • 2 finger prickers
  • Backup meter (if PDM broke)
  • 3 tubes of testing strips (make sure you have the right strips for your pump and back up meter!!!!)
  • Sea to Summit 5L dry bag for my day use medical supplies- it is so important to keep your supplies safe in weather conditions, so best to always be prepared so you never have to be frantic
  • Sea to Summit waterproof toiletry bag– I use this for all of the other supplies I keep in my car during the day, I love all of the pockets in the shower bag to keep my alc swabs and needles separated and organized



Day Hike:

  • FREE LIFETIME NATIONAL PARKS AND RECREATIONAL LANDS PASS UNDER THE DISABILITY ACT (hella easy to get in person, just go to the pay station and request a disability lifetime pass and the mate behind the window will make you sign a form and give you a card, literally as easy as that!)
  • Osprey Talon 11 L day pack, color black
  • Osprey Kyte 36 L pack, color blue
  • Nalgene water bottles- 32 oz and 48 oz
  • Camelbak 1.5 L reservoir
  • Ahnu Leather woman’s boots
  • Teva Tirra sandals, color simply taupe
  • Baseball cap
  • Buff headband
  • Columbia shorts (fit muscular legs better than patagonia & REI brands)
  • Smartwool socks, medium thickness
  • Merino Wool sock liners
  • Moleskin (for those annoying heal and between the toes blisters)
  • Sunscreen stick, SPF 70





Overall, my trip was absolutely amazing! I was able to really survive on my own as I also rarely had any cell reception. My lack of dexcom (because I stupidly lost my receiver during my drive to AZ!) made me think more intuitively and trust my body and my blood sugars stayed between 70-130 during all of my day hikes! I am proud of myself for taking this trip and being so adventurous with my time. I really broke out of my shell even more this week and I am ready to get back out on the trail and do more solo trips!


I also hope I answered everyone’s questions that were DM’ed to me via instagram and place contact or comment below with your adventure experience or other questions you may have!






3 thoughts on “Solo in the Grand Canyon w/ T1D

  1. Hi. I think you are awe inspiring. You advocate for those who are disabled and show through action that life is possible. I literally googled vegan geologist and your blog came up. I am currently in transition to be vegetarian and wanted to know who works outside and maintains enough calories that is also vegetarian or even vegan.

    Liked by 1 person

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