‘Sun­shine’ Hikes with Di­a­betes

KU alumna shows any­one can hike through, even with di­a­betes

The Kutztown Area Patriot - - FRONT PAGE - By Lisa Mitchell lmitchell@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @kutz­town­pa­triot and ham­bur­gitem on Twit­ter

Kutz­town Univer­sity 2016 alumna Cathryn Pugh, 23, is hik­ing the en­tire 2,200 miles of the Ap­palachian Trail for Hikes with Di­a­betes. Her trail name is Sun­shine.

She re­cently spoke about her ex­pe­ri­ence at a Meet and Greet fundraiser held at St. John’s Church in Port Clin­ton on June 25 for friends, fam­ily, com­mu­nity mem­bers and thru hik­ers. St. John’s Church in Port Clin­ton sold lunch items to raise funds for the Amer­i­can Di­a­betes As­so­ci­a­tion. Also at­tend­ing the event were rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Amer­i­can Di­a­betes As­so­ci­a­tion and the Di­a­betic Life­style Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“Orig­i­nally, I was just hik­ing for my­self. I hap­pen to have type 1 di­a­betes so I fig­ured I might as well spread aware­ness of type di­a­betes and show other di­a­bet­ics how easy it is to also fol­low your dreams,” said Pugh. “It’s a hard

jour­ney but any­one can do it, even if you have type 1 di­a­betes.”

Pugh ex­plained that type 1 di­a­bet­ics do not make in­sulin, but she doesn’t have to worry about in­sulin in­jec­tions while hik­ing. She uses a con­tin­u­ous glu­cose mon­i­tor to check her blood sugar ev­ery five min­utes while an in­sulin pump main­tains her in­sulin level while she hikes.

“It’s a re­ally great set up,” she said. “The walk­ing is great for my di­a­betes. It’s the only time in my life that I get to eat Snick­ers for fun and not just be­cause my sugar is low. It’s been great for ev­ery­thing di­a­betes re­lated.”

Orig­i­nally from Wyalus­ing, the Al­len­town res­i­dent did day hikes prior to her thru hike. She com­pleted a week-long hike in Ten­nessee in 2014 “and fell in love with the moun­tains and the whole cul­ture. The hik­ers that you meet along the way are a whole other ex­pe­ri­ence. Since then I de­cided I was go­ing to do the whole thing.”

She be­gan her thru hike of the Ap­palachian Trail Feb. 18 with two of her friends, Brooke Leis­ter and Ge­orge Ehrgott, also 2016 KU alumni. While hik­ing through Penn­syl­va­nia, they hiked sep­a­rately, but hope to meet up again later on the trail.

They started at Springer Moun­tain, Ge­or­gia, hik­ing through snow in the Smoky Moun­tains.

“It was re­ally hard. It snowed and I had to get off the moun­tain for a to­tal of six days. Hik­ing in pow­dery snow that’s six inches deep... a step for­ward is like a half step back ev­ery step.”

The rain in March was a big chal­lenge for her also.

“The rain I think is the hard­est thing for me men­tally mostly. We had a re­ally rainy spring,” said Pugh. “It was some­thing like 10 or 11 straight days of rain and my feet were wet all day long ev­ery sin­gle day.”

Her life­style has changed out on the trail also. She wears one out­fit ev­ery­day. She takes a shower weekly, prob­a­bly as of­ten as she eats pizza, she said.

“I don’t need much in life. I think this has shown me that I re­ally can sur­vive with just a back­pack and that’s great and re­as­sur­ing for later,” she said.

Pugh hikes an av­er­age of 20 miles per day with a back­pack weigh­ing about 28 pounds, de­pend­ing on food and wa­ter weight. She uses a ham­mock with a tarp over­head in­stead of a tent.

“I learned that you are never alone in the woods, even if you think you are, you’re not,” said Pugh about what she learned from the thru-hike ex­pe­ri­ence so far. “I just learned how to sur­vive on my own.”

Her fa­vorite place so far on the AT are the Grayson High­lands in Vir­ginia where there are wild ponies.

“I re­ally love just hik­ing and hav­ing the whole day to think and to watch the sea­sons change. As a bi­ol­o­gist, that was the great­est,” said Pugh. “I want to be a botanist so watch­ing the flow­ers bloom is in­cred­i­ble.”

Pugh re­cently cel­e­brated her four-month an­niver­sary as a thru hiker. Cur­rently hik­ing through New Jer­sey, she has less than 900 miles to go un­til she reaches the end of the AT at Mount Katahdin, Maine.

“I feel great, strong men­tally and phys­i­cally. Ready to do the rest.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Kutz­town Univer­sity 2016 alumna Cathryn Pugh, 23, is hik­ing the en­tire 2,200 miles of the Ap­palachian Trail for Hikes with Di­a­betes.

LISA MITCHELL - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Kutz­town Univer­sity 2016 alumna Cathryn Pugh, 23, is hik­ing the en­tire 2,200 miles of the Ap­palachian Trail for Hikes with Di­a­betes.ex­pe­ri­ence for Hikes with Di­a­betes at a Meet and Greet fundraiser held at St. John’s Church in Port Clin­ton on June 25.

LISA MITCHELL - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Ap­palachian Trail thru hik­ers stop by for lunch at Hikes with Di­a­betes Meet and Greet fundraiser held at St. John’s Church in Port Clin­ton on June 25.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Cathryn Pugh, 23, hiked through snow in the Smok­ies while thru hik­ing Ap­palachian Trail for Hikes with Di­a­betes.

LISA MITCHELL - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Ap­palachian Trail thru hik­ers “Blue Deer” Tyler Hud­gins of S.C., right, and “Dirty Face” Evan Ma­gal­lanes, N.J., stopped for lunch dur­ing the Hikes with Di­a­betes Meet and Greet fundraiser at St. John’s Church in Port Clin­ton on June 25.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Thru hiker Cathryn Pugh, 23, shares views from her Ap­palachian Trail hike.

LISA MITCHELL - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Hikes with Di­a­betes Meet and Greet fundraiser was held at St. John’s Church in Port Clin­ton on June 25.

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