White Clay Creek Preserve is a bit muddy right about now

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July 2, 2013 by scratchtype1

The last 4 weeks, which somewhat coincides with when I began to convert to barefoot, have been rather wet. We’ve been locked into a pattern that pumps up tropical moisture and an unstable atmosphere that sometimes erupts into off and on showers, some of them rather heavy.

This morning I went down and parked in the northern most lot for White Clay Creek Preserve, then put on the sandals/huaraches and took a walk to the PA-DE state line and back.  The section of trail starting from the parking lot and heading south is a bit cruel towards novice and intermediate bare feet. So the sandals were good for that section and let me move with a good pace. About 1.5 miles from the lot, I reached a section where parts of the trail and trails had turned into small ponds. You could see how people in their shoes would go around the margins. But me, well, I discovered something great — just pull off the sandals and walk through barefoot. Because of those sections absent of gravel and filled with giant puddles, I ended up walking about 2.5 to 3 miles completely barefoot, the rest of the miles done with the sandals on.

I also did test my bare feet on some gravelly areas and the feet are improving. It’s remarkable how much less discomfort there is now when I stand and step lightly over some gravel. There’s still room for improvement. I still have some trepidation and almost fear at times about doing these things barefoot, still a lot of conditioning in me that thinks that a person needs shoes. I’ve realized and continue to realize that it isn’t true, but when you’ve lived with those thoughts for over 40 years, they don’t just vanish overnight. It takes time, practice, diligence to realize how much skill and strength that human feet can have.

But I’ll tell you this: walking through mud barefoot feels wonderful. Just amazing. I came to know the trails of White Clay Preserve a bit more intimately today. I felt gravel, I felt the remnants of asphalt, I felt sandy areas, I walked through mud and water, I washed my feet for a few minutes in the White Clay. I experienced a part of the world that many of us would never know because of the shoes that are worn. I ran a few times, tried to run lightly, let my feet bounce over the earth, it was more exhilarating than any other runs I’ve done previously, there was a beauty in the quick cadence that my feet fell into. I’m beginning to realize what those barefoot runners are talking about when they speak about the experience of running barefoot. It’s a whole ‘nother, whole deeper level of running that’s been lost in our modern world of thick cushioned shoes, of a cushy ride that’s an illusion. You haven’t learned to run the way a human being can run until you begin to learn to run barefoot. It’s running and dancing, it’s seeing and feeling the world, the earth, it’s listening to it and yourself. There is a music that doesn’t need an Ipod or headphones. It just waits for you to discover it when you take off your shoes and begin to learn. Isn’t that what makes us human? Our connections to the world, our connections that teach us, our ability to learn?

I believe so.

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