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[pct-l] Boots, DEET, Topos and Recipes

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== I have a few more trivial questions that are pestering my brain late a
== night.
     Here's a few more trivial answers. :-)

== Boots and swollen feet

     I wore Raicle Montagne's for the first 1200 miles.  These are
perhaps the biggest, heaviest leather boots around.  These were well
broken in before the trip.  (A MUST for boots)  After a couple days I
had to reduce from 2 to 1 pair of socks and still I lost a toenail to
the tight fit.  The swelling reduced after a couple weeks, but was
never entirely gone, especially after a rest day.  My impression is
that lighter boots and shoes cause at least as much swelling because
there's less foot protection, but they stretch more.  Heavy boots keep
your feet a little drier in wet conditions, but take much longer to
dry out, so there's no advantage there.
     I also found that swelling, which occurs mostly at night, can be
reduced by sleeping with your feet slightly uphill.  Try it when your
feet are sore and I think you'll agree it feels much better.
     Others had more foot trouble than I did.  Options include cutting
holes in boots, cutting tongues out of shoes, switching to your
sandals, hitching to the nearest town and buying a bigger size, and
ending the trip.
     Blister control is related.  The first sign of tight shoes is
blisters.  Literally EVERY thru hiker I met had at least some blisters
some of the time.  Like all pain, they signal a problem that needs
fixing.  Figuring out what's wrong and fixing it is crucial to
recovery.  If blisters heal, they contribute to the "bullet proof"
calluses all successful thru hikers develop.  If not, they become
infected and will end your trip.  Infection prevention requires
keeping the wound sterile until it heals.  Be very careful if you
drain them and never put moleskin directly over a blister.  It will
slowly slide across the wound due to the high mileage and tear off the

== Ticks and other unwelcome lodgers

     I saw only two ticks all summer, both easily brushed off.

== Flying Evil Incarnate (biting flies and mosquitoes)

     DEET is nasty stuff.  It gives me headaches.  It melts the
plastic in my little swiss army knife and my compass.  But 100% DEET
is the only effective repellent I've found.  It's a necessary evil.
     Sage had a home-made tarp with an optional mosquito netting
layer.  It looked like a great solution.

== Topos and Navigation

     I didn't take any maps other than those in the guide book.  When
you take a wrong turn, you can hike off the strip maps before you know
you're even off the trail.  That's life.  Backtrack.

== Recipes

     My best suggestion here is to bring lots of different spices.
They are very light and add much.  Garlic powder, onion powder, and a
mix of red and black pepper were my favorites.  You might also
consider packing a heavier first dinner or two for each of the short
sections.  This allows more variety and keeps you from getting tired
of your best ultra-light dinners.

Brian Robinson
PCT '97

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