Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Worst Thing

Wet shoes. To willingly put my feet into wet shoes is the grossest thing I have ever done. For you to ask me to put my feet into wet shoes makes me want to do harm to you in a violent way that is not in keeping with my personality or my values. I hate wet shoes. Wet shoes are cold and wet and squishy. The instinct to avoid wet shoes is strong in me and it takes a great deal of will to overcome that and put them on. When I know my shoes are going to be wet in the morning, it can wreck the whole night of sleep for me. It turns my anticipation into dread. I plot in my head myriad ways to avoid it. I have begged the group to stay put for a day to let them dry. I have pondered hiking in my camp shoes. I have offered a great deal of money to a fellow camper for his dry shoes. To some, wearing another person's shoes is repugnant. It is to me too. But less repugnant than wet shoes. I do not know how serious my offer was, but I am pretty sure if he'd taken me up on it, I would have followed through. I hate wet shoes very much.

But there is another issue here too. It is the ongoing debate of hiking boots versus the new hiking shoes. Hiking boots, high ankled, waterproof, with thick heavy soles of deep tread, are a hiking tradition, a symbol of hiking, an icon. But Leave No Trace ethics call for doing as little damage to the trail as you can and those deeply-treaded stiff soles erode trails badly. And such heavy shoes are just more weight to carry. The 'modern' thinking is a lighter, more flexible hiking shoe. Old-school boots people will say the high boot provides ankle support but the modern hiking shoe lover will talk about physics and say that for a boot to actually prevent bending of the ankle in a stress situation, the boot would have to be much higher than that and so the ankle support idea is a myth. But the one thing the old boots do provide that the modern light weight shoe does not is waterproofness. Now, my sweaty feet just heat up and suffer claustrophobicly in a boot, but still, for hiking in the rain, a shoe is going to get saturated and a boot is going to get wet outside and stay toasty dry inside. Except for the sweat part, which for me might be just as bad. But still, if I complain too much about wet shoes, as I am shrinking and shriveling inside from having to put a foot into one, some smart ass old-school boot fanatic is going to pipe up "Well, if you had been wearing boots, they would not be wet right now."

So not only do I have to suffer the indignity of wet hiking shoes, but I have to suffer it in silence.

And as much as I hate wet shoes, I love to gripe when I am uncomfortable.


Gene Redlin said...

Great Post,

You are such a grapic writer. You need to think about harnessing this gift in book form. Not just poetry. Life.

Tony Bender like.

goprairie said...

thanks for the compliment but the only benders i ever went on made me sorry in the morning. i will get to that right after the house is done and the prairie around it is planted and the office is cleaned and the prairie landscaping book is written and the gallery turns serious profit and . . .

Paddle said...

I'm gonna have to argue with you on this one. I'm a fan of lightweight (anything). As for footwear, I'm sold on my boots even though they do indeed add some weight. They hurt my feet (I've yet to find a comfortable pair). I want to get out of them as quickly as I can at the end of the day. But they HAVE saved my ankles on a number of occasions. I'm not sure what physics you're referring to but I'm talking about the part of my foot below that knobby thing that pokes out of my ankle. That part is well within the care of my boots (and most hiking boots). The area below that is what I'm talking about. My boots have saved me on numerous occasions from stepping on a rock the wrong way and ending up in a heap of whining cartilage on the ground.

As for dry... My feet get wet in my boots all the time. Stepping in a small puddle on the trail, OK sure. But stepping through a stream or walking through freshly rained on brush for miles, that's a differnt story alltogether. Boot or shoe you're gonna get wet (unless you wear gaters or some much more involved boot). My canoeing boots have holes in the side-soles to let water drain out. Just accept that you will have wet feet and think of that cold feeling in the morning as a "wake-up call" for your (perhaps still tired) feet. It just feels that much better when you take those boots off in the evening.