Wednesday, April 30, 2014

114. Super Feet

They say that over the course of the trail, hikers' feet grow a full size, like the Grinch's heart when he realized the error of his ways and decided to stop terrorizing the Whoville townsfolk. I guess it has something to do with the constant hiking impact that causes our feet to flatten out over time. I think it's because of carrying our heavy backpacks, and with the extra weight, our little feet get so overwhelmed that they just start getting all weird. Dumptruck thinks it's all a conspiracy theory formulated to make us feel like we have to buy more hiking boots. That last part isn't true. The only conspiracy theory Dumptruck believes is about El Chupacabra.

Not that you would ever want to get up close and personal with this part of a hiker's anatomy, but if you were feeling particularly self-punishing, you could take a close look at before and after photos of hiker's feet. I don't think any photos like that exist, but if they do, please feel free to print them out and mail them anonymously to whoever bullied you in 6th grade. They won't learn anything from this random visual assault, because they're probably fully functioning adults now, but you might feel like justice had finally been served. Then you can give the 6th grade you in your memory a time traveling high five.

It is true that when I ordered my second pair of hiking boots to wear after the rocks in Pennsylvania broke all my foot bones into a thousand tiny pieces* I ordered boots that were a half size bigger than my original pair. But to be honest, the sizing of the boots didn't matter quite as much as the arch support. On the trail, hikers spoke at length about all of the different solutions to the foot-flattening problem, and they range from the logical (getting boot inserts) to the insane (just hiking barefoot). Like snowflakes, no two feet are the same, unless they're a pair of feet, in which case, they're pretty closely identical, except mirrored, which, if you have feet or ever met anyone with feet, you probably should have figured out by now. The more you know.

A popular option was a particular type of hiking boot insert, called Super Feet. I got the "Berry" size of Super Feet (Super Feet sizes are done by color, in order to confuse any dogs that want to buy hiking boots (Dogs are colorblind (I'm so sorry, my 9th grade English teacher, I don't know why I butcher sentence structure like this, but it's probably not your fault))). Not to render moot everything I've ever said up until this point and everything I'll ever say from here after, but Super Feet were probably one of the best things that have ever happened to me. The arch support was so incredible. It's the equivalent of getting the right tires and the right suspension for your car. We were commuting, every day, all day long, using only our feet, and so it felt really good to find the right gear to keep the machinery (i.e., our bodies) moving smoothly. Super Feet are so great that I have them in all my shoes now, and I really appreciate them in my running shoes. I never would have learned about them if I hadn't heard about it from another thru-hiker.

My melted Super Feet :(
It was also really nice, at the end of the day, to be able to take out the Super Feet and let them dry out, outside of the wet confines of a hiking boot. This was especially helpful if we'd had some river crossings, or a rainy day. Some boots are made with mesh material to make them dry out easier, but I didn't have the mesh, so my boots would usually take at least 1 full day to dry. It was much nicer to be able to dry the Super Feet separately, so that at least the footbeds would be dry the next morning when I had to put the boots on to start hiking again. I will caution you against putting the Super Feet near a fire to dry them. They will melt and you will be sad. You will be so, so sad.

Contrary to what you might imagine, this post is not sponsored by Super Feet. But if you are a scout for Super Feet who has magically found my blog, and you have a bunch of Super Feet, just, like, a kiddie pool in your backyard full of new, unclaimed Super Feet, you could send them to me, and then we'll be best friends forever.

Clever Girl

*This is a gross overestimate. The doctors say it was only 746 pieces.

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