Foot Care

I come from a family with a lot of women.  I have three sisters. And my mom has three sisters.  My older sister has a daughter and a son…and when he was younger, she used to put pigtails in his hair (ya know, because it’s funny).  The poor kid never stood a chance.  And one thing that is standard with all the women floating around is that nothing is sacred.  It doesn’t matter whether I tell someone that I’m buying a house or that I just ate a cheese sandwich for lunch; by the time I talk to another member of the family, she already knows.  “Your mom told me it was cheese and tomato.”  And my response is inevitably, “She already told you? But I wanted to tell you about the tomato.”

When I mentioned to my youngest sister about hiking the A.T., she said, “Sounds pretty awesome,” but not before my mom spilled the beans.  And apparently the conversation had gone something like this:

Mom: Jor’s planning on thru-hiking the A.T.
Sis: What is up with everyone wanting to all of a sudden?  My friend and her fiance are also planning to this Spring before they get married next year.  Why would anybody? I’m sure there’s nowhere on the A.T. to get a pedicure.

My baby sis has a thing for getting her toes did.  In fact, so do my other sisters and my mom.   I, on the other hand, am not a fan. Now that I think of it, I’m one of the few women I know that doesn’t like it.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy getting my feet massaged and cleaned up.  It’s the fact that I work hard for my calluses, and a day at the spa leads to a week of blisters.  Blargh!

I didn’t think much about my feet (so many more interesting things to think about generally like Life, the Universe, and Everything or why hot dogs come in a 10-pack but hot dog buns come in an 8-pack) until last Sunday when I was out hiking at Thompson WMA (see previous post).  To give you a fun visual, let’s just say I have hobbit feet – wide, leathery-soled, and hairy.  OK, they’re not really hairy, but that was a fun visual, right?  After 11 miles of hiking, my bunion was making its presence known and my delightfully mis-shapen toenails were digging into the sides of my toes by the nail beds.  Yummy, I know.  (I apologize if you have “feet issues.” If you’re not sure if I’m talking to you, assess whether this conversation is giving you the heebie jeebies.  If so, then you have feet issues.)

The next day I decided I didn’t care if people stared, and I wore my toe shoes (i.e. Vibram Five Fingers) on the metro to work to give my feet a break.  Hey, where are you going? Oh no, I lost you with the toe shoes, didn’t I? Before I said anything, you were thinking to yourself that I’m a semi-normal adventurous person.  Now you’ve written me off as a lunatic who wears gloves on her feet. Please come back! I promise they’re not as weird as they look. They’re the comfiest shoes I own and bring me back to my childhood when I used to spend summers running around outside barefoot.

And, in fact, I will be hiking (or alternately frolicking, dragging, and lollygagging) around outside for the better part of six months.  Last week I was looking at a 2012 thru-hiker’s blog post and caught sight of a picture of highly bandaged toes and heels.  I spent a few days in the “denial phase,” but I now accept that the hike’s going to put a strain on my feet.  Between the bunion, a silly little case of Raynaud’s (really, it’s no big deal; looks and feels kinda cool when my toesies turn white), and my ogre-like toenails, I am going to need to take care.  So, I’ll do what I do best and plan, plan, plan an all-around foot care regimen.

I’ll certainly bring along a pair of nail clippers and likely some moleskin and bandaids too.  I may end up wearing two pairs of socks at a time during the colder winter months.  And I have to decide what shoes I’ll bring in addition to my hiking boots.  I read that a lot of people prefer Crocs as a second pair to wear when settled into camp each night since they’re light and let one’s feet breathe.  I’m not yet sure what shoes to bring and am open for suggestions.  I do love my toe shoes, but I’m probably going to try to make friends on the trail. So  I may not want to bring them along, or I might scare people away.

Meandering on,



24 thoughts on “Foot Care

  1. Jor: Even though, unlike your sisters, you never responded to the pedicure and ballet class “incentives” I offered strategically at times of emotional distress, you may want to take a tip from ballet dancers who use lambswool as padding in their toe shoes. It absorbs toe sweat, can be quickly tucked and molded around toes and does not rub.
    The offer of a spa day when you complete the trek still stands.

  2. Jordana, you are so blessed to be able to have your mom comment on your posts (she sounds so wise : ) I miss my mom’s wisdom (she passed twelve years ago : ( Well, back to feet…..I am a reflexologist so I view feet in a whole other light. You would really benefit from regular reflexology (especially leading up to your hiking venture. It would help the bunion, Raynauds and get them ready for the trail). Not only do they feel good afterward, you are improving your overall health!!!
    Just a thought….
    By the way, I enjoy your writing especially your sense of humor!

  3. When my dad hiked the trail, crocs were his second shoe of choice. He said they were great walking through the cool water streams in because those cool water streams were great to walk through, apparently after having hot and tired feet all day! I agree, love your humorous take on this whole thing.

    • I will keep that in mind. Crocs are seeming like a pretty good option at this point. And thanks. The way I see it is either I laugh about it or curl into a ball and rock back and forth with anxiety. I like the first choice.

  4. I’m right there with you on the Five-Fingers! I love mine. I was self-conscious at first, but now I am a confident, foot gloved individual. I plan on bringing them as my second pair for my thru-hike.

    • Why Erik, fancy seeing you here! Gonna also have to hop on this bandwagon as it seems rather comfy. My Vibrams will be my camp/town/everythingelsebuthiking shoe while I’m on the trail next year. I already wear them everywhere, for work and leisure. i’m even wearing them right now! How crazy is that?

      • Oh, so this Erik gets around, huh? I promise he wasn’t cheating on you with me; we’re just talking shoes. Speaking of which, I think I’ve decided not to bring my Vibrams. As the weather is cooling down in DC, I’m noticing my Raynaud’s (lack of blood circulation in my toes) is acting up when I wear them in the mornings on the metro.

      • No assurances necessary. Erik and I have an…”open” relationship.

        Cold weather is also a bit of concern of mine starting out. Especially since I’ll be starting a bit earlier than suggested (mid Feb), but due to potential time conflicts in the Fall of 2013 I have little choice. For those early weeks I actually have a pair of toe-socks that I’ll be sporting with them as long as it’s cold enough to need them. Not sure if it will be enough, but I plan on doing some testing with it this winter.

      • Kenny! Uhh… This isn’t what it looks like. I can explain! Oh god, why won’t you let me explain!?

        That’s a shame you won’t be able to wear your five-fingers! Gotta do what feels most comfortable, though. Thanks for bringing up the cold weather issue though, as I hadn’t really considered it with my camp shoes.

        Hmm, I guess I was being pretty mysterious leaving off my last name. This has been corrected.

  5. Pingback: Breakfast of (Hiking) Champions « My Meandering Trail

  6. Take the Five Fingers! I love mine, and don’t care that people talk about them. They actually make great conversation starters! I’ve hiked all over in Yosemite and other places here in California for miles and miles without blisters (and I’ve had proper hiking shoes before and ALWAYS got blisters). Vibram even makes a trail running version (the one I use for more grip on hikes)

    • Thanks for the link to the trail runners! Still mulling this one over. My main concern is that they tend to start to smell after awhile, especially if I don’t have ready access to a washer. Hm, have to think on it some more.

  7. Here’s another vote for Crocs as camp shoes. For trail shoes I was very convinced by the end of the trail that Brooks Cascadias were the best (except possibly in the cold of March. They lasted the longest, were comfortable, and breathe. Whatever you pick, it’s got to breathe. I started with “waterproof” shoes that didn’t breathe so well. All that really means is they take longer to dry out, because no matter how “waterproof” they are they will get wet. Stay away from “waterproof” boots/shoes.

    • Glad for the confirmation. I’m going to use my Merrell Moabs, which are not waterproof. And I recently discovered an old pair of Crocs in the back of my mom’s closet, so I’m good for camp shoes too.

  8. I think I’ll probably bring a pair of hiking sandals as my second pair so my feet can really breathe. Moleskin and duct tape definitely. One of the things I’ve heard over and over is take your shoes off at every break, even if you’re only stopping for a few minutes, to give them air. It may seem like a pain at first but goes a long way to preventing blisters.

    • So I’m definitely going with the crocs at first in the cold weather so that I can wear socks at all times, but I’ll likely consider swapping them out for sandals once it warms up sufficiently. And thanks for the advice. I’ll keep it in mind.

      • What? Like I’m too proud to learn new techniques for keeping myself safe and healthy? …although it’s all I can take to keep up with the pace of your comments. ; )

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