A happy hiker has happy feet

By Kelly Howard

Two miles left and the only thing I could think about was trying to step softly, my feet HURT. No way around it, I had done a really bad job of caring for my feet on (and before) this three day trip. I was using my trekking poles to step as gingerly as possible as we reached the parking lot. Yeah, civilization. Boo, wrong parking lot! We still had another half mile or so to the car…

A happy hiker has happy feet4

How had someone who knew as much about hiking as I did have made such a perfect storm of mistakes? Mis-steps, which had lead to my feet wanting to walk off and leave me behind. In the sprit of “there’s nothing better than learning from someone else’s mistakes”, enjoy this classic case of do as I say, not as I do!


For 2–3 months I had known I was taking this backpacking trip. It was on the calendar, tickets were purchased, but I kept putting off thinking about what needed to be done. I felt like I had been so busy with work & life in general that I had been ignoring what really needed to be done. Have you ever been to one of my Hiking 101 classes where I say, “if you need new boots buy them early and use them. Don’t head out on a trail trip with untried boots”? Feel free next time we see each other to ask about how I broke in my new boots before this trip — not!

A happy hiker has happy feet2
A happy hiker has happy feet1
A happy hiker has happy feet3

About a week before heading out I bought my boots and I wore them on three neighborhood dog walks. Total break in period was about 3 hours. Strike one.

Three weeks before my trip I had had a pedicure. My toenails still “looked” good but I knew they needed to be shorter as they had been growing for 3 weeks. Nothing is worse than a toenail bumping the front of your boot as your walk downhill, can you say bruised, black toenails? Despite the fact I knew I needed to trim those toenails, once again I never took the “time” to stop and trim them. Strike two!

Day one of our hike was a lot of uphill. I had my boots laced pretty loose to allow my toes moment and getting use to the boots. Day two I was rushing a little to get ready to head out and forgot to check the lacing of my boots. Those loose toe laces from the day before didn’t work so well with all the downhill hiking of day two. By not properly lacing my boots it allowed my feet to move forward in the boots and my toes to touch the front. Strike three!

Lucy is taking my toenail polish off as I wince while trying to keep a smile. Could she please be just a little more gentle with those toes? Personally I think she is appalled by my black toenails. To me, those two toenails are there to serve as a reminder; happy feet make for a much happier hiker!

Related Articles