*Feets Don't Fail Me Now*
By: skyjump
29 March 2005

Your daddy says I'm no good,

Your momma says keep away,

WAIT a minute,,, these arenít the notes for this story!

Drink ÖÖ. before you get thirsty.

Eat ÖÖÖ. before you get hungry.

Moleskin Ö before you get blistered.

These are the last words (reminders) before starting a hike - by yourself or with others. When we strap on our sailin' shoes and hit the trail, we are obliged to take care of our self and avoid injury. This "hiking" thing is a lot of fun, good exercise, risky (what ain't), and can be downright dangerous. Two or 20 miles out from "definitive care" (911), can be a lonely place if something goes wrong. You typically carry an extra day or two of food, and hope you never need it! A serious injury can extend the trip a day - or worse, require professional assistance. God bless the professionals who come to help back-country folks in need (city folks, too). Theirís is a tough, dangerous job - and we do not want to put these people at risk.

Dehydration

If you get thirsty - it's too late. You're behind the hydration curve.

Drink water at regular intervals.

Drink to prevent thirst, not to quench it.

Drink more than normal - unless you normally hike every day!

Make sure you are taking in more fluid than you are losing.

Make sure you are packing water-carrying and purification means.

At 2% dehydration, your performance falls off up to 25% - now, you're behind the performance curve. See how things can escalate?

Our body is about two-thirds water. Water facilitates virtually all bodily functions. Hiking, you are constantly loosing water via perspiration, breathing, metabolism, and may never realize it in time. Should dehydration progress, the next symptoms could be feeling dizzy & light-headed, drying of mouth and mucous membranes, producing less and darker urine, confusion, increased heart rate & breathing, to feeling downright sick. Should you "quit sweating" (when you normally should be) and goose-bumps appear, stop immediately and inform the group - you may be flirting with heat exhaustion, possibly heat stroke. At 12% dehydration, it becomes difficult to swallow, the tongue swells, eyes sink back, limbs may tingle, speech may slur. The situation is becoming life-threatening, and may require IV (intravenous) protocol. So much for a "fun" trip. Just don't do it!

Nutrition

I'm going to get in big trouble here. So, I'll ask forgiveness from the nutritionists, first thing! BP (backpack) food is a balancing act between size, weight, palatability, preservability (made that word up), and energy. We only have so much room in our pack, and weight is critical. The goal on a hike is to balance caloric intake with energy expenditure and not incur any vitamin or mineral deficits. The vitamins & minerals we can assure by taking along supplements. The "energy" part, well, we can eat all those terrible things that ruin a good diet! [told you the nutritionists would be ticked]. Once, when checking in (filing hike itinerary) at the Rangerís Station for a winter hike in the Smokies, a Ranger came out to look over our gear. The only question he asked us was, "Does everybody have plenty of chocolate?". Who-yah! M&Mís are my favorite, they melt in your mouth - not in your pack!

A popular strategy is to eat a little something periodically enroute - basically, throughout the day! [see "ruin a good diet" above]. Weíre talking GORP (trail mix), jerky (preferably home-made), fruit, junk-food (preferably wholesome), candy, fig newtons, rice krispy treats, you name it. This BP thing is starting to sound pretty good, huh! Be careful not to get food odors on you, youíll draw vermin!

Breakfast - for myself, typically Toastems & coffee, maybe English muffins & preserves. I used to do "the big spread" - Chinese omelettes, pancakes, etc. Save that for car-camping, now. "Farmer" kinda tickles me. Last thing every night, Farmer prepares a quart of instant milk ["Yuk"]. Everyoneís enjoying the still of the night, Ďtil Farmer starts shaking his flask like a bartender - swish, swish, swish - on and on and on. Farmer informs us "letting the mix sit overnight enhances itís taste". In the morning, Iím not entirely sure what-all Farmer pours his milk over (cereal?, oatmeal?, porridge?). It looks really strange, and I give him plenty of room!

Enroute - munch on any of your favorite snacks that make you feel guilty [see "ruin a good diet" above]

Lunch - cheese (Muenster keeps well), crackers, summer sausage, fruit, PBJ, potted meat, wine (only kidding)

Enroute - munch on any of your favorite snacks that make you feel guilty [see "ruin a good diet" above]

Dinner - oh yea, now itís time to EAT! A handy first-night-out meal is hot dogs with fixinsí. You leave home with them frozen, hike all day, then, a fire, skewer-stick, good to go - marginal clean-up. Subsequent nights, I alternate between Lipton 8-minute Wild Rice and their many 8-minute Noodle combinations. You can skip any butter or milk called for, just use water, and itís great. Towards the end of their 8-minute prep time, I alternate between mixing in a small can of Chunk Chicken, Shrimp, Kippering, Salmon, Smoked Oysters, Summer Sausage, whatever. Typically, this is a $3 to $5 meal that would be enough for two back home! 8 minutes and Iím eating. Iíll be cleaned up, put up, and sitting by the fire drinking a Mocha when the others start to eat! A bonus is a fresh-caught trout! Weíll "burn-out" any cans, crush them, and pack them out - LNT (Leave No Trace).

MoleSkin Magic

.

Enroute, inquiry should be made every 30 minutes or so - "Anybody getting a hot-spot on their feet?". If so, STOP. Take a look at that foot. If a "rub" is happening, MoleSkin that puppy! Actually, my preferred MoleSkin is MoleFoam - same thing without the fuzzy top-cover. Sometimes you know a particular pair of boots is going to "rub" you in a certain spot. Sometimes, you get a rub youíve never had before. Itís likely our feet will swell somewhat from the hiking experience, making for a different "fit" in our boots. Protect your feet, watch your step, so your feets donít fail you now.

After the trip, Iím chicken when it comes to pulling off the MoleFoam. I just wait it out. It will come off in the shower when itís ready

Socks

I suggest a "friction" or thin, inner sock - Polypropylene will wick moisture away from your foot. Then, a rag-wool sock - thick for winter, thin for summer. Wool can help you stay warm even when wet. When you wear holes in the wool socks, cut the "foot" part off to use the "ankle" part as "wrist" warmers/covers. They also protect this generally exposed area from annoying scratches, especially when gathering firewood.

Inserts

If you buy boots too big, you may be able to put the bottoms of some "flip-flops" inside the boot for wonderful cushioning. Check the "Runners Shoes" area of the store for hi-tech cushioning inserts.

Boots

Note: donít go shopping for boots "first thing in the morning". Make sure youíve had a full day on your feet, so your feet can go ahead and swell. Also, take the very sock configuration that you hike in. This assures a more accurate fit. Boots are basically either leather (hard-shell or soft) or Gortex. Itís up to you what you like. Gortex does offer the ability for your foot to "breathe" and air-out (dry) better. I prefer sewn-on soles, but they are becoming a thing of the past, as most soles are glued on.

Vibram

The bottom line for what needs to be on the bottom of your boot (IMO). I will take a brand new pair of shoes and have Vibram soles sewn on. Great traction on wet rocks, very durable, protect the bottom of your foot.

Waterproof

I think itís a misnomer. Letís face it, if your feet donít get wet crossing streams, theyíre gonna sweat and get wet. There are several products, e.g. Sno Seal, Mink Oil, for "waterproofing" boots (Saddle Soap is a no-no). I think the true value in using these products is to prolong the life of your boot.

Gaitors

Handiest thing in the morning if thereís dew. Keeps your lower leg and upper-boot dry (hi-speed, low drag).

Going hiking, Iím very protective of my feet. When the boots go on at the car, getting ready to hike, they generally stay on until I crawl into the tent to go to bed. Iím not saying Iíve never sat and soaked my feet in a stream - emphasis on Ďsatí - not walked around barefoot. Next morning, last thing before going out of the tent, the boots go on. People roaming around camp barefoot or in socks concern me. They hurt their foot, and want to split up the weight in their pack among the group. If I had wanted to carry 70 pounds, I would have packed 70 pounds!

Iím not a BP survivalist. I BP to get from point-A to point-B, preferably via high ridges and mountain-tops J .

 

Don't the sunrise look so pretty, well it's feets don't fail me now,

feets don't fail me now...

 

blue skies,
Skyjump



www.alpharubicon.com
All materials at this site not otherwise credited are Copyright © 1996 - 2005 Trip Williams. All rights reserved. May be reproduced for personal use only. Use of any material contained herein is subject to stated terms or written permission.