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Foot Care

Foot Care

Avoiding the Agony of the Feet

Or How to Take Care of Your Transportation System

If your feet aren’t happy, you’re not going to enjoy your journey! So, proper care of your feet is quite important. That means both caring for the feet themselves, and selecting the proper clothing for them.

Foot Care

The most basic thing to take care of on your feet is to trim the toenails. You don’t want them jamming into the front of your boots as you’re hiking. Next is keeping the skin moisturized and supple so it doesn’t crack. Any cuts or nascent blisters must be treated immediately. Cuts should be cleaned, disinfected and bandaged. The instant you feel a blister coming on, stop! and take care of it. All these things you should do for your feet all the time anyway. And if you have a chance, at the end of a long hike, soak your feet in a cool stream.

I usually walk barefoot around the house and use MBT sandals when I go outside. When I put on socks, especially if I’m going to be doing a lot of walking, I first apply a good layer of Zim’s Crack Creme to my feet. I pay particular attention to the areas around the toenails and cuticles. I’m sure other lotions work just as well but this is my favorite. It’s a good, all-purpose skin lotion without perfumes.

Outdoor Foot Wear

What I wear on my feet depends a lot on what I’m going to be doing.

If I’m playing or hiking in a lot of water, I’ll wear some good river sandals. Key things here are proper strapping and size. The fastenings must be such that the sandals can’t come off regardless how rough the terrain or turbulent the water. Regarding size, the soles should extend far enough beyond your toes that you can feel your way among rocks without bumping your toes. The soles also need to be flexible, yet sturdy enough so that they’ll support your foot when you step on a small rock. One hikes where I wear primarily boots, I’ll still take some river sandals along.

My Favorite River Sandals
My Favorite River Sandals
They come in handy if you have to cross any streams, and after a long day of hiking, you’ll want to wear something other than your boots around the campground. Wearing the sandals in camp allows both your boots and feet to breath and relax.

Sneakers or cross-trainers are fine for your ordinary day hikes on smooth paths and gentle terrain, even if you’re carrying a light day-pack.

Any time you carry a heavy pack, or are crossing rough terrain, such as Government Canyon near San Antonio, or the back trails of Lost Maples, I recommend sturdy boots and thick socks. The boots should provide ankle support because the ground is uneven and the sole of the foot is tilting every which way. The thick socks will cushion your feet and prevent blisters and toe jams.

Terrain can make a big difference in the shoes I wear. I can spend several days hiking in Pacific Northwest woods wearing light boots or sneakers without any damage to my feet because the trails are smooth and padded with deep layers of humus, even if they’re not level. On the Texas trails of jumbled limestone and karst, however, just on an afternoon hike with the best boots I can still end up with one or two toes black and blue from banging into rocks and slipping around. When I see people wandering around places like Government Canyon in little more than shower sandals, I wonder about them. They’re either clueless or have very tough feet. I hope it’s the latter.