June 19, 2013 by scratchtype1
Currently, I’m in a summer bowling league, and since the alley is relatively close to my brother’s home and he and his wife are in the league, after work on Mondays I go over to his place and have dinner before heading to the league. We got to talking some about the Appalachian Trail this last time. Can’t remember exactly how it came up, after I had said something about how Jennifer Pharr Davis holds the unofficial record for the fastest thru-hike, but something inspired to mention The Barefoot Sisters and how they had hiked the AT barefoot. When I said that, my sister-in-law, “Sounds like a good way to wreck your feet.”
I didn’t say anything in response to that, though it was tempting to say something about how Lucy and Susan Letcher are, so far as I know, not hobbling around crippled. Instead I was satisfied enough to think about such a statement, about what drives it, how personal viewpoints develop inside of our cultural bubble. Now I don’t have any firm conclusions about how such ideas take root, but it is interesting how the human foot has come to be regarded as something rather delicate, always in imminent danger of injury if not clad in shoes. To some extent at least, that belief has arisen because of what shoe-wearing does to our feet, it makes them soft and if not suffering nerve-damage, so very sensitive that they will find some small things painful and uncomfortable. I’ve certainly experienced that as I begin to go around barefoot, although now with more than 2 weeks of exposure, I find that I’m becoming more tolerant.
But you can see how there might be a strong instinct to protect something that is so sensitive as a foot that spends most of its time inside a shoe. If you walked around with your eyes closed for many years and then opened them the first time, the sensory input would be overwhelming and even painful. Your instinct would be to shut the eyes again. Or maybe if you think about, to try opening the eyes in dimmer light, where it wouldn’t be so overwhelming.
Today, if the UPS tracking site is accurate, I will receive my book order, The Barefoot Sisters Southbound, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of it. I found the 80 pages or so of it available to read on Google Books, and the writing was strong enough that I felt good about purchasing a copy. I’m quite interested to read their experiences going through Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s section of the AT is sometimes known as the place where boots go to die because of how rocky the Pennsylvania part of the trail can be.
I will be hiking a bit of the Appalachian Trail Saturday evening, if nothing comes up in between. A meetup group scheduled a full moon hike up to the Pinnacle and Pulpit and I signed up for it. I’ll do it in my boots though, since it’s going to be at night, overall, I’d feel more comfortable doing it in boots that I’m familiar with, and I think also I still need to strengthen and condition my feet more before unleashing them on a 9 mile hike by the light of the moon or flashlights. Hopefully one day I will make a hike of that section of trail barefoot but I’d want to do it during the daytime and after my feet are better conditioned.
As far as how my feet are conditioned right now, it almost seems to me that they already seem a bit more muscular, that there is some more arch to their arches and that my toes are becoming nimbler.
The Monday morning experience of driving with shoes again made me make a change. What I’ve done here to stash a pair of shoes and socks here at work, so they’re available for me if I have need or reason to put shoes on. So now in the morning, after I get parked at work, I put the flip-flops on and walk into the building with those. It’s weird how quickly I found that it feels like I have better touch with the car pedals when I’m barefoot. When I wore shoes Monday morning and I was driving, it felt like I was wearing cumbersome blocks and couldn’t feel the pedals all that well.