File this under “top secret tips that no one really talks about”. One thing that I’ve learned over the years is to be really nice to your feet. Like really nice. I don’t get blisters anymore and rarely if ever have hot spots on long runs. Couple of things that work for me – ymmv:
- Buff them smooth with a pumice rock. And then buff them some more.
- Keep your tails trimmed. Best way to lose a toenail is to have your nails too long and jam them into your shoes descending on trail.
- Apply Body Glide liberally to your feet (and anywhere your clothes rub).
- Put on your toe stretchers and prop your feet up with a good book.
- Thin socks.
And now for a fun story.
One winter T and I drove up from D.C. and planned a climb in the Presidential range of New Hampshire. From Pinkham Notch the climb goes up Mt. Washington and then you climb Jefferson and Adams going north, drop back into the valley and hump it back to Pinkham notch. We decided that fast and light was the way to go. We sat in his truck and ate dinner and then hiked to Hermit Lake shelters around 8pm … slept a little bit and then got up at midnight and started climbing. No stove, no sleeping bags … not much margin of error. Amazing what you can do when really committed.
So it went..summit… summit… summit. Then things got shitty.
Descending snow covered rocks – my crampon kept popping off my boot slowing me down. We were both wearing plastic boots and vapor barrier liners – essentially creating a little micro climate around your feet – totally works… just not so good for your feet after being on the move for so long. We were exhausted. We ran out of water back in the valley, it was dark… we were drinking water from creeks.
When we got back to the climber’s room at Pinkham it was a bit cathartic to say the least. And when I took my boots off… I saw what wearing vapor barriers and plastic boots for 20 hours will do to your feet … I’ll spare you the image. But it was the worse my feet have ever been.