Wednesday, October 30, 2013

180. Epsom Salt

It was 6 days in, and my feet were already starting to rebel. I had done everything I could think of to prepare for blisters: I broke in my hiking shoes, I put on moleskin and duct tape over hot spots, and like any good Irish woman, I spent several minutes every day giving my feet a good stern talking-to about not wimping out.

It was to no avail. The blisters came on like a tidal wave of molasses: a slow, sticky, inevitable doom. Nearly every toe had blown up to twice its original size, and some parts of my heels as well. I ran out of moleskin after 3 days, and duct tape only made it worse. The rest of me wanted to keep hiking, but my feet were having none of it. Each step felt like that moment in Star Wars when the Emperor is zapping Luke with his lighting bolt hands. What do you want from me, Trail Emperor?! YOU CANNOT CONVERT MY FEET TO THE DARK SIDE BECAUSE THEY DO NOT HAVE ANY JEDI POWERS.

But there was an answer. There was a simple, easy, perfect solution. Amputation? Robot Feet? Learning how to hike on my hands instead? No, it wasn't as cool as any of that.  It came in a carton and was found in a KMart.

Here is the recipe for fixing blisters. We would do this every time we were in a town (every week or so) and it was a miracle. Prepare for your life to change:

1. Fill a tub 3-4 inches deep with very warm water.

1a. If you are in a skeezy hiker motel that has only a shower lined with black mold, there are still options. We used buy disposable foil lasagna tins because they were big enough for feet!

2. Put a bunch of Epsom salt into the water and mix it up. There's probably a correct ratio, but we didn't have any sort of measuring device because we're hikers and that would be ridiculous. Usually it was just "pour for a while." If you're using a tub, you should just use the whole carton of Epsom salt.

3. In my first aid class, we learned that you, in general, shouldn't pop a blister unless it is big enough that it's going to pop while you're walking around in your boots. In other words, if it's going to rip open on its own anyway, it's better to pop it in a clean, controlled environment. Pop any perilous-looking blisters you have using a STERILIZED sewing needle or safety pin. Make sure you do this in a clean space, and do only one, clean poke. If you're feeling brave, squeeze all that goo out of it.

4. Put your feet into the Epsom salt bath!

5. Relax! Leave your feet in there for at least 10 minutes, or, if you're like me, leave them in there until the water is cold.

The Epsom salt hardens up the blister skin and turns it into a callous. IT'S LIKE MAGIC. When were were in Hiawassee, Dumptruck, Apollo, Granite and I all had a drink and sat with our feet in the bathtub together like bros (pictured below). For the first month of the trail, every time we stayed overnight in a town, I would soak my feet at least once. I would soak them more often if I had the opportunity.

Blisters be gone!

Clever Girl



1 comment:

  1. I completely agree I used Epsom salts after each and every one of my training hikes... and when I did my thru-hike I was the only one in my group without blisters... so that is like scientific proof