Yesterday, in all my excitement of getting some nice hiking boots for my birthday, I thought, “I need to break them in!” I thought I would go for a nice hike and enjoy wearing some really good shoes for the adventure.
I had decided to go to a mountain that was close to home and pick a trail path from a trail app I had on my phone, Alltrails. I saw one I thought would be good. “Green Mountain Trail” had a moderate to hard rating (I wanted a good challenge) and was said to be 8.7 mile loop. I was feeling pretty confident that I could do that just fine. I had done a couple of long hikes before, so this was supposed to be a piece of cake.
I just didn’t consider one factor – New shoes. Another factor I learned afterwards – You need good socks for hiking boots! I wore dress socks, thinking they would be just fine. I was in for a surprise.
The first hour of the hike was fine, even though I had to adjust the laces on my boots a couple of times as the ankle portion of the boots felt a little uncomfortable. The hike itself was beautiful. There was some mud from melting snow and the wind was blowing pretty strong. I could hear it howl and blow into my hearing aids, which, honestly, was annoying after a while.
I didn’t take off my hearing aids for one reason only; I needed to hear for any bicyclists coming down the path behind me. I can’t say it was a perfect solution as there were several of them who called out last minute and I couldn’t tell if they were saying “To your left!” or “To your right!”. There were a couple who I know didn’t even say those words, but I couldn’t catch what one word they yelled as they passed. However, I did get a clue of what one rider yelled out from another bicyclist, who was riding down in front of me, as he came and apologized to me for the other biker’s behavior as he politely rode by. All I could do was roll my eyes at myself as I could guess what rude word the other man used.
Dress socks don’t work with hiking boots for several reasons, as I came to learn at about the 4 mile marker. One, they’re a thin slippery layer of fabric between my feet and the inside form of the boots. I tighten the laces, but I felt the chafing of the fabric more around my ankles as I walked. I loosened the laces, but it made my feet move a whole lot more inside the boots. You know what happens when your feet shift around in new shoes.
By the 6th mile, I was leaning into my hiking trail poles to ease some of the pain in my ankles and my toes. I began to pray I could make it to the parking lot where my beloved car sat waiting for me. I had no music to distract me, but after that rude biker, I knew I was better off being more aware of what was around me. So, instead of music, I began to focus on my surroundings and try to figure out where I was according to the map I had. That might have been torture, but it kept my mind on pushing through the pain to make it back to my car.
It wasn’t long before I was beginning to think about having a glass of wine when I got home, and soaking my tortured feet in hot water. I was also thinking, “I have got to get some better socks before I go hiking again. I’m also not going to take a long one until I KNOW these boots are ready for it.”
Hope of reaching my car very soon came in the sight of seeing some familiar trail markings I had seen from previous hikes at the mountain. I realized I was at the part where the trail reaches a fork into another trail I had been on previously. “I’m almost there!” Sure enough, the trial marking, which was a weather beaten fence rail at the top of a small peak of the Green Mountains, I see the parking lot down below. “Oh, hallelujah.” I breathed as I moved as quickly as my aching and throbbing feet would allow me. My hiking poles became my crutches, balancing me as I went to down the rocky and uneven trail path.
Once I reached the bottom, my dogs howled. No, not literally, but my poor feet felt like they were howling as I finally came to a stop at the trunk of my car. When I got home, I found a nice blister on one toe, several sore spots on other toes, and a nice bruise on one ankle. My glass of wine was a nice reward from that life-learning-adventure.
So, if you get some nice hiking boots, don’t do what I did. Wear good socks and go for a nice 3 mile hike to break them in. I know I’ll be doing that for a while until my boots feel awesome and ready for some really great hikes around here.