[pct-l] rookie footwear- a cautionary tale

Paint Your Wagon n801yz at hotmail.com
Fri Feb 7 21:45:24 CST 2014

Wuz up?

OK I just got back from the VA hospital. I am a vet and have the blessed opportunity to receive medical treatment from the VA.
So what right? Uh... not so fast. 

I committed a rookie mistake back in 2012. I treated the trail without respect. Why not? I hiked down the Grand Canyon when I was 15. 
But, that was then! 
That was my entire hiking resume until tackling the PCT. 

Fast forward. I’m in a Redwing boot store searching for boots for big feet. I wear a size 15. Straight up. 15 is it. 
They have a 14 that fits, but no 15. Knowing that, I request a thick pair of socks. I don the socks and size 14  boots and go outside for a walk. 
I cover at best two city blocks. I come back into the store and tell the clerk- I’ll take them! Two months later, I line up on the border. 
Day 3, my feet are barking. I loosen the laces- all of them. I roll my ankle within hours. 
I remember my friend saying that I will feel pain all the way to Canada, so I embrace the pain and hike on. 

On and on I hike, with pain. I think it’s plantar faciitis. I’m missing my orthotics. I left them in boots over in Iraq. What else could it be? I keep hiking. 
My feet keep hurting. I notice that once I get on my feet, and after packing up camp, my feet stop hurting. Hey! I’m getting better. Right? Uh? Maybe? 
I hike to Kennedy Meadows and decide that’s it! I’m stopping! I’m healing! I stay 56 days. 
I take off heading north, late in September, and the foot problems begin to resurface. I hike to Shepherd’s Trail and bail. This is the end of my 2012 hike.

In 2013, I leave Campo with 2 bum feet. I still think it’s plantar faciitis. On and on I hike. I try $15 inserts in my boots from Big Five. No good. 
I try $100 custom molded inserts from Superfeet in Mammoth Lakes. No good. I hike to Sonora Pass and bail. My feet hurt like ten thousand (expletives deleted). 

I go to work in the Caribbean, in October, of 2013; installing doors in a Westin Hotel for 2 weeks. My feet hurt like hell 24/7. WTF? 

I get back to the USA and decide to crack this nut. I go to a podiatrist; self pay- the VA is too slow, 
and I find out that my tibial posterior tendon is detached from my arch allowing the arch to collapse. 
I realize... the pain that I thought was plantar faciitis, is in fact a far more severe injury. 

Now- facing surgery. 

However, I purchased a non custom fit ankle brace (hard) and tried to use it. It was ill fitting and killed my ankle. 
I quit wearing it. Goodbye $250.00.

Weeks pass, and the prospect of a 2014 hike fast approaches. Hmm... what to do? 
I go to the pharmacy/drugstore and find a soft ankle brace with gel cells... gel cells located at the pressure points. 
Right on the ankle bone. Bingo! I buy it, try it, and lo and behold... it works! I find some mini arch supports for plantar faciitis, and buy a pair. 
One of them works perfectly on my left foot. 
The fact that I am wearing 2 ankle supports on the right foot (hard and soft braces) mitigates the option for a plantar faciitis support brace on the right foot. 
Damn the luck.

I am at the threshold of hiking with braces and no surgery, or... hiking after surgery. 
Surgery that fuses the 3 bones forming the arch, and shaving the heel bone to match. Hmmm. What to do? 

I had to order a bigger pair of boots, to accommodate the crowded boot space, now taken up by a hard brace and a soft brace. 
Also, to... even- fit in the boots, I had to remove the factory sole inserts.

So- a size 14 boot, one size too small, sets in motion a CHAIN OF EVENTS, derailing my thru hiker plans; carrying over into the third year, 
and still to this day- causes me problems as I await the delivery of a pair of size 17 boots.

14 to 17. 

Size up kiddies. 

My arches collapsed, growing my feet by a size or two. When the veterans give advice... (size up one or two sizes) do it!

Moral of the story: ill fitting boots/shoes, cause train wreck, derailing my hiker dreams to thru hike the PCT, not one, but two years in a row. 

Take care of your feet my fellow peeps. 

That shit’s for real out there dog. 



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