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[pct-l] Re: Feet treatment - sandals
I get some pebbles, small gravel, pea size chunks of wood under foot wearing
sandals. Depends on trail, naturally. Worst was the deep, pea-size lava scree
above Mono Lake. Black Canyon I think it was called. Just grin and bear it.
But generally, this is not a problem. The thicker (therefore higher off the
ground) soles of Chacos help some, as does the flat, though contoured
footbed. (Sandals with a dished edge make it hard to clear out stuff. They
also cause massive toe blisters on long hikes just from the brushing of toes
against them millions of times.) I often go hours without clearing out
anything trapped, on Sierra trails.
Sandals call for a more deliberate walking style anyway, a good thing. I
automatically guage every footfall, walking a little more flat-footed through
patches of gravel and chunky woody material. Can't blast through blindly like
those wearing heavy boots, but after enough miles this is like driving a car,
no thought required. I never get stubbed toes, the big concern of non-sandal
wearers. Watching foot falls is insurance against twisted ankles, not to
mention tripping and falling.
I can usually remove a piece of material from underfoot by tapping that foots
toe end on the ground once, hardly have to break stride. Some times it's 2 or
3 taps, rarely have to lift the foot and dig it out. Some socks are a little
worse it seems. Wool socks (Smartwool for example) and heavier, nappy socks
like Thorlos seem to make it a bit harder to clear out. The socks I presently
prefer, Coolmax biking socks I got on sale at REI, have a flatter, smoother
weave that doesn't grab onto particles as much. Can also use a hiking pole to
press the sandal away from the foot a bit to release a chunk, like wood that
resists tapping out because it's so light.
I get more stuff underfoot than when I used light weight hiking shoes, but
when stuff got into them, or into running shoes, generally had to take them
off completely and then retie them, which takes a lot longer. I also don't
mind the trail dust, which penetrates socks and kind of tans my feet. Some
people can't abide this, but it's so fine it's almost like talcum powder.
The other advantage, especially early season Sierra, is just cruising through
streams without stopping. I figure I'm way ahead here, if bothersome effort
is the consideration. I saw people taking off their boots and socks to switch
to special water shoes, repeating this over and over again, last trip.
Also note that Chacos with the Vibram sole have incredible grip compared to
Tevas, which I used to use also. Big, big difference on sandy rock planes.
See ya at the A16 event in Tarzana on Nov. 14!
Best, Todd in Tarzana.