Editors note: ordinarily I would introduce this as a guest post, but Carter Clark has officially joined our team and so technically that makes her one of our tribe! The purpose of this post is both to welcome her to the team and introduce her perspective on adventure and life with type 1 diabetes to the community! 

Years back, I would often hop into Jeep with intentions of spending time in the mountains with dear friends. Some of those times, I decided not to go back to where I started. It’s how my life of constant movement began–rarely planned, always under-packed, and riddled with unknowns.

I’m a few weeks into another season on the road and it seems a new sense of comfort has finally come along for the ride. Nothing about this season of life is inherently different than the previous few. High-altitude trails still often kick my butt. Alpine lakes still invoke the hardest questions. Late night chats on friends’ roofs still reign supreme. What’s missing is a lingering sense of worry that, until now, I had never put the effort into getting rid of.

Diabetes and I have been roaming around together for quite some time. In my 19 years with Type 1, I’ve had my fair share of annoyance and experiences of fear, but for the most part, it hasn’t been a huge issue. I was an expert at hugging the line between convenient normalcy and exhausting control. Never was I worried about long-term complications–never self-conscious about its sometimes-public presence. I was never bothered by the amount of time devoted to the problem. I was hanging out on a comfortable plateau of control and stayed there for years and years. A few months ago, it was finally time to get off of it.

carter clark type 1 diabetic climber

While it wasn’t a big hassle on a day-to-day level, a tremendous amount of work went into creating my foundation of control. With so many years under my belt since diagnosis, I have steered into a world where diabetes is not usually my first thought. While meandering to different places, my first considerations are new project opportunities and closing language gaps, not whether an alarm is set for midnight testings or where pump supplies will next be restocked. This sense of comfort may only come with time, but even new diabetics must know it’s achievable.

I have not yet figured out why the realization took me so long, but crowdsourcing for information leads to far greater results than a tense chat in a sterile office. We are dealing with a disease that is incredibly intimate. Very few chronic illnesses turn their patients into personal doctors to the extent that Type 1 does. I’m no longer looking for research on specific insulins’ trends or statistics based on date since diagnosis. Knowing which pump site can handle long treks with external-frame packs and which snacks keep you steady after an adrenaline-filled climb is far more important to me right now.

Those answers are found above tree line, among silence brought on by exhaustion and cold. They are found within off-width cracks, among ripped pullovers and grueling laughter. They are found beneath open hatchbacks, among methodically organized supplies and crumpled atlas pages. They are found by claiming a future that lives out from beneath the shadows of hoping for an elusive cure. We can  that research and stay in the loop, but to give up today’s opportunities for the hope of something uncertain in the future? That would be throwing away the truest sense of living. If individuals acted to the full extent of their abilities every day, the world would be a place of unheard-of excitement.

nature photography and adventure media

Those of us running around with Type 1 are no exception.

Just because more thought is involved to do those things safely, we have no excuse to stop chasing the things that make us feel most alive. I live in genuine excitement to be learning something new about an old disease every day and to be a part of continuous conversation of living beyond this diagnosis. In jumping off that plateau, I have found the confidence for tighter control. That was the largest missing piece and it had been available the entire time. The information is endless. The improvement is endless. Most excitingly, the exploring is endless. I’m incredibly stoked to be a part of a community that understands these priorities. There are big things to come. We must always remember this: diabetes has absolutely no right to take our passions from us.

Carter has recently joined our team as marketing director and in addition to helping us step up our business game, her adventures and perspectives will be coming to live on the LivingVertical Blog–and possibly other channels too! Don’t be shy, say hello to Carter in the comments below–she’s already a regular here!