And now for a word about footwear for the hiker:
Despite being nearly 6′ tall I like to wear high heels. However, having suffered both trial and error I am now trained to understand that there are appropriate and inappropriate conditions for each carefully engineered style of footwear.
For instance, while crossing an expanse of turf to reach an outdoor wedding reception, I learned that stilettos quickly lose their sex appeal when worn to navigate a soggy lawn. In a sinking heartbeat, their function transforms from pedestal to lawn aerator.
So what then to wear when hiking? Something with grip. Something that won’t negatively interfere when your foot meets a loose stone, bump or dip. Something comfortable. Something that makes you look good.
My preferred choice in hiking wear has varied over time. As a kid I thought the only respectable thing to wear on the trail was a hard-core boot that forced a walking gait not unlike Frankenstein.
And once, in climbing to Mt. Washington’s Tuckerman’s Ravine in the dead of winter, I marveled that one woman in our group covered the distance wearing alpine ski boots! True. She lacked hiking boots so she happily used what she had at hand.
In any case I’ve loosened up in my thinking of what’s the right footwear for hiking.
While on the one hand there’s the stiff soled traditional hiking boot, there’s also the Chuckie sneaker and the Teva sandal. After hurting my back, I forget how, I swore off all shoes for a while with the exception of Teva sandals. This resulted in both my back recovering in no time, and my falling in love with Tevas. I wore them everywhere for everything until there was almost nothing left of them to strap on my feet.
More recently, since busting my hip (which with the help of three screws healed nicely) I’ve take to wearing military boots. They were a surplus pair that had been issued to a woman soldier while she was on active duty in Afghanistan. I acquired them brand-spanking new at her yard sale. I took to them reluctantly at first, but soon was all but living in them. I like that, being made of gor-tex, they’re waterproof and that, since they come with insulated, removable, washable booties; socks are optional. They make excellent barn boots. That said I’m not entirely in love with them: The laces need regular retying and the soles are surprisingly slick.
Which leads me to this. Going bare. Baring your feet of socks and shoes and
hoofing it au natural.
It takes some time and patience and pain to toughen up those pink soles- yes. But consider those marathoners from East Africa, like Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila who cleanup at the races- barefoot!
Or think of actor Viggo Mortensen (a man I would walk over burning glass for) who’s vocal about being of the barefoot persuasion and practices what he preaches.