Tackling Trails with the Right Footwear

There is nothing I like better than exploring national parks and Alpine terrain on foot. The designated trails lead you through spectacular scenery and throw up new spectacular vistas and wonderful surprises around every corner. Most regions offer a variety of trails to suit all fitness levels but even the simplest trail can be a real workout for your feet.

 

Walking Boots

I have lost count of the number of foolish explorers I have seen taking on really quite rough terrain in the most inadequate footwear imaginable. I will never forget the entire family I saw trying to negotiate the Mist Trail in Yosemite in nothing more than flip flops. Now that was a nasty injury just waiting to happen not to mention cut feet, extreme agony and a lost toe nail or six!  That walk is three miles of rocky paths, slippery surfaces and fallen trees none of which should be tackled in beach wear! Needless to say a good pair of walking boots is essential for taking on the trails. Their rigid soles, durable uppers and ankle support provide the best protection for your feet.

The Wet Stuff

The one thing you really don’t want to endure if you are on a lengthy hike is wet feet. Many trails can be wet in places and clambering about at the foot of waterfall is great fun but walking boots will only keep out the water for so long and are no good at all if the water is above ankle height. Wading through the odd obstacle may seem like a laugh but it isn’t so funny if you continue your journey with wet feet. That is a recipe for very bad blisters and a great deal of discomfort.

Nobody wants to take on a hike weighed down with a spare pair of shoes but there is a great solution available. Aqua shoes are lightweight and flexible and so can be carried in a side pocket of your rucksack easily and without adding to your load. There are various varieties available but even a low cost pair will cope just fine with river beds and a bit of rock clambering. When you are done you can stow your aqua shoes away and return to a nice dry pair of hiking boots. I never go anywhere without mine (take a look at me here near Tenaya Lake) and they have proved very useful on pebbly beaches too.

Be Prepared

Even the best footwear should be well worn in before you risk taking on a trail of any great length.  Even then you could suffer the odd blister or abrasion so it is well worth including a small first aid kit in your backpack. Just a few plasters and a small tube of antiseptic cream could be worth their weight in gold and don’t forget the insect repellent because you never know when a nasty critter will strike. I one got the worse sting in the history of mankind in California and let out an unfortunate string of expletives in front of a picnicking family nearby. Heaven knows what attacked my ankle but I was bleeding and that cream came in very handy!

Nobody should ever set off for a hike without the right footwear and accessories even if they know the trail well. Natural terrain changes by the day and you could pay a heavy price if you don’t take along good shoes, first aid supplies and plenty of liquids.

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Article by Sally Stacey