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City: Couer d' Alene
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Date: Sun, Feb 24th, 2013
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Awesome blister talk info
A few weeks ago I was reading some of the PCT-L articles and following a few topics. For whatever reason I started following this conversation about blisters and a guy by the name of Jeffrey Olson posted this little essay, which I thought was spot on and a really great read. I thought that I might include this with my journal because it's great information.
On my 2011 hike I suffered some bad blisters, which took me off the trail for a few days twice. It was all related to heat, moisture and friction. If it was a hot day and I was walking down hill I could be sure that I was going to blister badly. It's not like I was wearing thick wool socks or anything like that...I actually was wearing Thorlo Experia socks which are some of the best. But not for hiking long distances...they have extra padding on the heel and ball sections, which is where I blistered the most. I believe it was because the extra padding insulated my feet more in those areas...the heat would build up and I would have a blister.
I started taping my feet with athletic tape, which was effective for a while but a huge pain in the ass to always be doing that. Then I just quit that all together and just let my feet toughen up which ultimately happened.
The other thing I did was change the type of sock that I was using. I started wearing thin dress socks that fit tightly...this seemed to really help as well.
Enough from me lets get back to Jeffery and his article.
Referring to blisters on the long distant hiker’s feet…It's not just friction, it's moisture and friction.
The tighter your socks, the fewer hot spots can develop. The friction that happens naturally between foot and shoe is mediated by the tight sock. In the worst cases, the sock gets hot and a loose shoe disperses heat. Tight shoes and loose or thick socks concentrate heat and moisture and blisters happen. Wear loose shoes, tight socks, and walk with abandon. Your shoes should slop around your foot as you walk. Your stride should feel the ground and the slop allows this. This will happen only if you wear tight socks.
You can feel this when every step uses the full foot through the stride. The advice in the above paragraph is pretty surface. It's only when you're putting 40,000 steps a day on your feet that the beauty of tight, clean socks and a regular stride will be revealed. If you're protecting a body part - a calf muscle, or heel, or ligament in the ankle, a hip or butt muscle - that irregularity will occur and your best laid foot/shoe/sock plans can be dissipated - blown out enough to create throbbing, constant pain, to ruin the hike.
However, if you begin with a good foot, sock and shoe strategy, the irregularities in body-while-walking that reveal themselves will appear earlier and be more easily dealt with.
What's the hikers canary-in-the-mine? It's the foot and its ailments. The first six weeks of hiking involves finding a bodily rhythm based in supporting the foot and its motions. It's the foot and how it's planted, the rolling over into the next step that makes a million steps to Canada possible.
The ideal foot motion is the foundation of a dance. There is no trudging, no ruing being on the trail, no wondering why I'm doing this. There is no feeling the pack is too heavy or the trail too steep.
What exists is a planting of the foot and a rolling over into the next step, where the rolling is a lightness-in-being that remains whether going up or down or along the valley floor. The difference between trudging through and dancing-while-walking is attitudinal.
To be sure the lows will be there. Hunger, thirst, a slight strain, a particularly steep uphill while enervated - all will happen. But those are the lows. The highs are what we wait for. We don't make them happen. We find our hiking rhythm and live through feeling depressed and tired and angry and small.
We have a center that remains the same whether emotions are high or low. This is the key - this is the key to walking. The center carries us through feeling down and feeling high. Day after day we feel our emotions run rampant and we continue to put one foot in front of the other, rolling over our center in each step, affirming the foundation that is our hiking being... It's all in the moment, and no stretch of the imagination will help us put one foot in front of the other. It's all about rhythm and constancy and being-centered and knowing I will feel low and want to leave the trail.
The lows, and highs will pass. What remains is one foot in front of the other as an expression of my being harmony with the cosmos as I feel them... That's what I walk for. That's the foundation of my meaning and purpose in living, where I find them. All else is structured by this day-after-day experience. I am changed by hiking. I am more comfortable being-in-the-moment than I was before.
I take this hard won feeling into my social and work life and no longer struggle to create meaning and purpose in a job or relationship. I've already found what I need to live a life that enraptures me. I wake up into this bodily understanding and open to a new power to create my life.
This is what long distance hiking offers - the realization I can create my life, and the foundational power to do so - foundational insofar I am a human being first, and all else is peripheral, insignificant play. When I look into your eyes we see each other or we don't. I can create in ways that others don't understand because I am putting one foot in front of the other as I live. The months on the trail have transformed and even if it is true that only I see and feel the change, and no one else does, I stay centered and create within the ongoing act of putting
one foot in front of the other, all there is.
Jeffrey Olson, "Jeff, just Jeff"
Rapid City, SD
Spitfire Hikes The PCT 2013
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more: www.pcta.org
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