It was time for my physical training this morning and I was really ready for a challenge. I stayed home sick yesterday and didn’t get any exercise and I was ready for some sweating. I decided a hard, fast hike in our local mountains was just what I needed to do. And, it would help break-in my new Lowa Tibet GTX boots at the same time. I watered up and headed into the mountains. Change in elevation was going to be about 1500’ and about 5 miles round trip, about 2 hours with a couple of short breaks.
I hit the half-way point and my feet are a bit sore, I am also wishing that my boots were already broken-in. But, no joy. I did however want to keep heading deeper into the mountains. There is an old abandoned mining camp and an old spring that feeds it. The spring is even further into the mountains. That was the goal, the spring.
I got to the spring after an extra 400’ elevation change and some really steep climbing on a trail of degraded granite. But it was worth it!
I got to the pool and is was deeper than normal due to our monsoon rains we’ve been having. The mountains were providing plenty of shade and the elevation was nice and cool. The pooled water was really clear and inviting. I wasn’t going to strip down and go swimming or anything but my feet sure screamed out for a nice bath. Off came the boots and socks. Into the water went my feet. Ahhhhhh!
It was a huge slice of heaven right then and there. I washed my feet with the cool spring water and it really just was wonderful. I turned my Minus33 wool socks inside out and allowed them to dry. They had become just a little moist from the desert summer heat and the climb. I sat there enjoying the absolutely beautiful morning. Then I realized I am an idiot!
I was taught early on in my Boy Scout days to always take an extra pair of socks whenever you went hiking or camping. Changing socks in the middle of a hike is a truly refreshing experience for both body and soul. And here I was bathing my feet at 7,200’ in some of the freshest water in the western US. But that also got me thinking about something else. And that is my “lesson learned” that I took away from this experience this morning.
I can remember all the way back to my Boy Scout years and my Scoutmaster telling me about the sock changing tactic. I then tied it in to what was happening on the gorgeous morning in the mountains. And then I threw in a bunch of modern day technology. And here you go…
Next time you are going on a long hike take along a “handy wipe” or something similar. It just needs to be a towelette, the kind that you use to clean your hands without soap and water. You get them at KFC when you order chicken. Most restaurants provide them when you order ribs. However, you get it is up to you. But take it with you when you go hiking. And take along an extra pair of socks.
When you get to the half-way point take a break. And while you are taking a break take off your footwear and socks. Turn your socks inside out to assist them in drying. Once that is done open the handy-wipe and rub down your feet with it. Just as if you were washing your feet. Then just sit there while your feet dry. The handy-wipe probably has some alcohol (or similar) moist ingredient that will feel very cool as it evaporates off your skin. Sit there and enjoy the respite.
When you are ready, get out your spare pair of socks and put them on. Then put your footwear back on and continue your hike. But don’t forget your old stinky, possibly damp, smelly socks that you took off. Hang them off your pack, preferably so they are in the sun. Let them dry there as you continue the second half of your hike.
Your feet will have a “new” feel to them and you will find both body and soul refreshed and reinvigorated. The rest of your hike will be more enjoyable.
And as a thought, if your hike is way longer than you expected and your swapped socks are dry and have been airing out in the sun, swap them again. You can do this even if you don’t have another handy-wipe. Even rubbing them down with the top part of your socks that you are taking off will make your feet feel great as they air out.
Just a parting thought…I sure hope you are not wearing cotton socks. Actually, I hope you are not wearing any kinds of socks other than wool. Cotton socks are for short-term athletics. Wools socks are for the outdoor activities.
Go take a hike…your mind, body, and soul will appreciate it.
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