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Thru-Hike Dilemma

Some of you may know that my ultimate dream before I leave this lovely world is to hike at least the PCT. My dreams and ambitions have always been to hike the 2,650 mile trail, whether in sections or all at once. However, my dilemma with completing such a trail involves my recently diagnosed medical issue which involves injecting myself every 2 weeks with medication. Even more difficult the medication needs to remain cold! Not possible with mail drops that sit around for months at a time!

Any clue how this dilemma can be fixed? I have made it my personal goal to not let this illness stop me from what I love to do.

You could always hike the trail in winter and carry it with you. That should keep it cold ;). (I know, not helpful but I couldn't resist.)

Carry your prescription with you. If it is one shot per bottle you could arrange to have it made available at various pharmacies along the way. If it's multiple shots per bottle, shipping it between pharmacies could get a little tricky. Don't give up on your dream.

I have a similar situation CShamrock, I am alergic to bee stings, several types of pollen, and I have a mild form of Epilepsy. As already mentioned, the first thing that pops into my mind is winter travel.

(Is mind poping safe?)

I do not have to keep my medications refrigerated, I do have to keep them cool and out of direct sunlight, so a little different.

By working with my doctor who is also an avid outdoorsman, I have been able to manage both my health concerns and proper care of my medication while backpacking.

One thing I will advise is to always carry your medical information with you, ask your doctor what information would be needed in your case.

Always leave a trip plan behind with family, and if possible one with the proper authorities along with that medical info.

Maybe you already do this, great!

I go out of my way to leave this info with the local ranger station when I travel solo (you can mail or fax it too), I also include a photo of me & my truck. Don't forget your local Search & Rescue Groups, I have found them helpful. This may or may not pertain to thru hiking the PCT, but thinking along these lines is a more responsible approach to traveling solo, in my opinion.

I never hike the PCT but have talked to a few that have and one of the things that always amazes me is all of the support they get from the trail angels. There are many along the trail and a lot of them go over and beyond the call to help PCT hikers. You might try one of the PCT forums.

I see two possible approaches here. The first is to find a way to get your boxes delivered just a day or two ahead of your arrival date, with the medication inside something that will keep it cold for the few days it will be in the mail and then at your pick-up point. Fact is, mailed boxes do NOT sit around for months ... after a couple weeks (check current postal regulations) they are returned to sender. (Otherwise, every post office on the PCT would be overwhelmed with boxes sent by overly optimistic backpackers.) You'll need to call whoever is mailing your boxes from each of your town stops with directions on when to send the next box. (Not a problem -- I called my sister from just about every town stop.) The second approach is to hike the trail in sections (maybe two months at a time) and scout out places that would be willing to keep the medication in the fridge after you drop it off on your way to the trailhead. (Talk to owners of small town resorts, motels and general stores, along with trail angels.) One thing for sure: take a practice hike of two or three weeks on the PCT or similar challenging terrain (and weather) to get a feel for how long it will take you to hike from one town stop to the next. Good luck!

thanks for all the advice, I will not give up on this dream of mine. However, due to the, not so convenience, of getting this medicine it makes it difficult to just "pick" it up at a pharmacy. Mailing ahead, with refrigeration, is probably what I will have to do. Section hiking sounds a little more appealing too :)

With all the experience we have here, someone might come up with a solution to the same problem that worked for them. But here's a KISS idea: ask a pharmacist. No, really.

Find one who really thinks (you can get the official line anywhere) and ask questions like, how cold is cold? How long can it go without being cold? Take nothing for granted -- I am often amazed by how much I only thought I knew.

another idea don't know if it is helpful or not but do a weeklong hike and see if you can keep it cold by using some sort of foam cooler and camp near a stream to keep it cool... again, for what it is worth.

I'm pretty sure you could "ressuply" at pharmacies on the way. Maybe if you make a list of possible places, call and order in advance they might be able to stock the product for you to buy. From their perspective it's one more happy customer. Knowing the shelf life of the medecine might be useful too.

BTW frozen juice boxes work great for keeping things cool and are drinkable on the trail. Dry ice can be used for longer outings and will keep things frozen for up to 6 days, but might freeze your product too.

Good luck and happy trails!

It would be possible to give a call to who ever ships it to you a few days before you get into town and have them overnight it to your resupply in a cooler with ice bags.

Also as stated there are many trail angles along the way that would probably hold your meds in their fridge for you.

I know someone that tru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and had to inject insulin daily.

Just do a google search for a list trail angels or inquire at PCT-L or other PCT forums. Also, Yogi's PCT handbook has a list of the trail angels and all the resupply points that you may find useful in your planning.

Don't let the logistic stop you. Everyone has a reason why they can't hike the trail.

I inject insulin daily but learned that even though it gets shipped to my house via overnight in an insulated container with reusable ice packs, that it doesn't require special refrigeration for relatively short periods of time but rather can't freeze or go above 86 degrees F. When I hike in the winter, I keep it in a pocket or in my sleeping bag to prevent freezing and in the summer I bury it in my backpack next to something cool. Ask the pharmacist and read the literature that comes with your meds. You may find out that the temp requirements are not that difficult to meet.

I always respond to kids; I am a veteran Scout Leader who is always encouraging the ethic of "No Scout left Indoors" and I have a pair of observations. I do not know your medical situation, but you should be able to work around it with close consultation with wilderness medicine experts as found in Search and Rescue agencies or through the Venturing programs in Scouting. A call to the Scout Office of your Cascade Pacific Council (I recall: ) should provide you with specific contact persons; even the folks at Camp Baldwin -- web address found under Camping or Camps on the Cascade Pacific Homepage, noted above. As a lighter-weight hiker, I would check out any linkage to ultralight backpacking sites, especially to , who has a light and fast system of 16 lbs. that he has used on long trail hikes. Go to his website, but this is an older, seasoned hiker, so be careful and not overly eager! Being an old and hopefully wiser and careful adventurer, I would test my newly-organized system on a section of the PCT to see whether your program will work. I pray that your physical condition not prevent you from reaching your goal, but you are biting off a large chunk to launch on a major expedition--and have a couple of companions with you and a cell phone well charged. A video, Walking the West, of 2002 goes through the entire PCT and related perils and challenges. And I am easy to find in the Edmonds, WA phone directory or Mount Baker Council Puget Sound District website, office is (425) 338 - 0380. I always come to the aid of kids. Good luck on your quest.

January 20, 2021
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