July 15, 2013 by scratchtype1
It turned into an interesting hike Saturday with a meetup group at Ridley Creek on Saturday morning. Some of it was because of mud, some of it was because of a knot coming undone, some of it was because of skepticism, some of it was because I was an idiot and couldn’t read carefully.
Fortunately, as typical, I got to the park about 20 minutes in advance of the hike time. I didn’t see any of the others in the group there yet, and I needed to pee, so I hoofed it to the lavatory and relieved myself. Then I got myself loaded up, and sat on the back of the car to wait for others to start showing up. But they didn’t. Huh? So about 5 minutes before the hike was scheduled to leave, I use my smartphone and the app to look at the hike info again. Oops! It’s parking lot 7, not parking lot 17. So I jump back in my car and drive to the correct lot, where pretty much everyone is already gathered into a group. I grab the sandals, put my keys in my pocket, and trot across the parking lot to the group.
People kinda notice if you show up like that barefoot. The hike leader noticed, too, along with me dropping the thin sandals to the ground.
“You might want to reconsider…”, she said.
“Um, no, really, it’s okay. I’ve got practice.”
“It’s going to be awfully muddy out there.”
Around that point, one woman, who had been out there with the group that hiked on Wednesday evening, spoke up, “I saw him on the hike Wednesday. He can do it.”
I said, “I was here back a couple of weeks ago when it was super muddy and I walked through this stuff. And I’ve done up to 13 miles on the Appalachian Trail in these sandals.”
“Okay…” said the group leader with that bit of disbelief in the voice.
I suppose though after a mile or so all the people who hadn’t seen me Wednesday night began to see the advantages the sandals had. While they were sometimes have to dance at the margins of the trail to avoid getting puddle water spilling into the hiking boots, I would just walk straight through. Plop, plop, plop. In fact, at one point, the hike leader decided to abandon the trail for a section of road instead because of a long trail puddle. I could have plopped right on through it, but elected to stay with the group as it backtracked to a place to get back to the road.
But not everything is sunshine, puppies, and rainbows with sandals when it’s wet. About 2.5 miles in, we hit a stretch of steep downhill and I was having some trouble with my feet sliding a bit on the sandal, and pushing hard against the cord between the toes. Finally, about halfway down that slope, well, I guess I hadn’t melted the paracord enough and the knot slipped and zing! the sole was flopping behind my right leg. The fellow behind me yelled out to stop and I made a bold choice. Instead of trying to thread the cord back through the tiny hole, I pulled off both sandals and said, “Let’s go.”
And so I did a mile or so of barefoot trail hiking. It was rocky at times. There were tree roots sometimes. There was mud. There were stones. There were lots of worms sometimes too. And my feet? They did just damn fine, thank you very much. It really felt a lot better than it had felt with the sandals. Still, when we got to our restroom break point, I re-corded the sandal and put them back on. But I might have been able to finish out the hike barefoot, although there would have been a couple of areas that were far rockier and/or more gravelly than what I saw in that unknotted mile.
Also, it was kind of cool at the break where I fixed the sandal, one person came up and said she had been thinking of getting some sandals like I was using and how did I like them. I said I liked them a lot and just that you have to work it carefully to build up strength in your feet.
I got to hear the “It’s illegal to drive barefoot!” admonition last night. Yesterday afternoon, I went to the bowling alley to bowl with my brother and sister-in-law, and the 2 members of my brother and I’s team in the fall league last year. I rolled well yesterday. Non-league so it’s not official or anything, but it was my second 500 series (155-186-168, 509). Happy about that. After that, we went over to my brother’s for dinner. Then later, when it was time to go home, I guess I shocked them all some when they saw me walking barefoot towards the door and my car.
“It’s illegal to drive barefoot!” my sister-in-law exclaimed and so did another, who I should maybe point out was wearing a pair of flip-flops but with thick soles, maybe 1.5 inches thick.
I said, “No, it’s not. There are no laws against barefoot driving. I suppose there is risk that a cop might try to cite you for some sort of reckless driving while being barefoot, but there are no laws against barefoot driving.”
I suppose it might fair enough to point there is a slight chance that a local municipality could have something on the books forbidding barefoot driving, but so far, any time I’ve googled for the idea of illegal to drive barefoot, I have yet to find a reference to any actual locality with any such ordinance. Which I suppose just goes to make it a fact that it is not illegal to drive barefoot.
I wonder if anyone actually tried to google it.
Kind of funny enough, as the 3 of us who were leaving got down the steps and stepped on the driveway where our cars were parked, the woman who had voiced agreement with the it’s illegal exclamation stumbled a bit on top of the thick-soled flip-flops. I said, “It would certainly probably be better to drive barefoot than in those.” She wasn’t driving, but maybe it brought home the point — say a person had a choice, between driving barefoot but illegal because of law, or driving upon a thick squishy-soled flip-flop, which would be safer? I’d say barefoot, the bare foot can feel the pedal much better and there is no chance of squishiness interfering with use of the brake or accelerator or clutch, no chance of the flip-flop not landing squarely upon a pedal and the foot twisting into the pedal.
I did a tiny bit of barefoot running over the weekend and this morning. Maybe a total of 500 yards over the 3 days. All of it was uphill and all of it was on the rougher areas of chip-seal. I figure that’s a good way to try to get the form idea right. Running uphill tends to encourage proper form and it’s hard to overstride, and the rough chip-seal makes it even harder. I’m going to wait a while before I let myself try doing downhill. I believe downhill is where I’m most likely to see overstriding form appear, it can be very easy to let the leg fly out and down the hill. And that’s made even worse because impact forces get bigger with the bigger drop. So form is huge with barefoot running. I want to get it right.