Hiking With Hemophilia
Hiking With Hemophilia
By William Addison
Posted: January 3, 2023. Originally printed in NEHA’s Fall 2022 Newsletter.
When I was eleven, I became a Boy Scout. Hikes with my troop included Tuckerman Ravine on Mt. Washington, Tumbledown Mountain in Mount Blue State Park, and Old Speck Mountain in the Mahoosuc Range at Grafton Notch State Park.
I hated hiking. It was hard and I was always so slow. Then my dad took me to High Adventure with my troop, a seventy-mile, weeklong backpacking trip on the rugged Appalachian Trail in Maine. I hated that too. I was still slow, it rained all the time, and I had to get up just past dawn each morning to hike for six to nine hours with a heavy backpack. I only fell in love with hiking on my second High Adventure trip the next summer. (Though it didn’t rain any less.)
As a person with severe hemophilia A, I had to stick to my prophylaxis leading up to trips and while on hikes in order to participate fully. More than once I had to come back from a hike to the cabin we were camping at and infuse because I hadn’t done so prior to the hike. I learned to infuse when it mattered even if I didn’t want to because, although it’s a pain, it is necessary. I always brought factor with me on trips; it was a higher priority than toilet paper on my packing list. On the High Adventure trips, many adults in my troop carried factor in their packs because our crew always got spaced out along the trail. I took all these precautions and learned to set and stick with rules so that I didn’t have to limit myself in what I wanted to do and what dreams I wanted to pursue.
On June 5, 2021 I set out on the Appalachian Trail with my sights set on Springer Mountain in Georgia; the southern terminus of the 2,190 mile long Appalachian Trail. That mindset didn’t last long as I was struggling mere hours later trying to figure out how in the world I was going to do this. In order to accomplish this undertaking, I took my trauma dose as prophylaxis, with guidance from my HTC. I took it slow in the beginning, building my stamina and strength so that when I got to the south, I could consistently throw down 20+ mile days.
I finished the trail on top of Springer Mountain on October 6, 2021. I saw a variety of wildlife – rattlesnakes, black bears, skunks, opossums, bats, and more – though by the end there were only two things I was proud of. The first being the money I raised for Save One Life, a non-profit dedicated to helping those with bleeding disorders in developing nations, and the second being the adversity I overcame.
This July, after writing this article, Will traveled to Tanzania to hike to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro: the tallest mountain in Africa, standing at 19,341 feet about sea level.
Will shared this photo, below, wearing his NEHA beanie as he he began his second day of climbing.
Will has severe hemophilia and lives in Falmouth, Maine.