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Going barefoot in the SN

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Going barefoot in the SN

Postby circusoflife » Thu Jan 12, 2012 12:18 pm

Planning a multi-week hike in the SN for June / July of this year..

Planning to start at Mammoth Lakes / Devils Postpile area (Mosquito Flats) -- go around the

- Thousand Island / Garnet Lake area
- Sabrina Basin - Little/Blue Lakes, etc.. / LeConte Canyon
- Bishop Pass
- Rae Lakes
- If time - maybe Whitney

My question is -- do you know of anyone who has hiked any of these areas/trails barefoot?

Yes, I will bring/wear shoes, but am thinking about barefooting parts of the hike.

Perhaps one has heard about barefooting becoming more popular in running circles..or Earthing (Something which I'm still learning about) ...but for various reasons I think I would like to try it hiking first. I've never gone barefoot on ground other than when I'm at home (All the time), or on a beach per se...for the most part.

When I say barefoot...I mean no shoes of any kind. (Some of the runners "going barefoot" - use shoes with just a thin layer between the foot and the ground. Shoe companies want their cut!).

Am an experienced hiker...in many different places around the world..but the SN looks to be the first place I will do this in the wild.

Any thoughts?



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Re: Going barefoot in the SN

Postby markskor » Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:45 pm

Any thoughts?

Well, my opinion is that you are somewhat bonkers to even think about doing the Sierra totally barefooted. Sure, one of those two "Dual Survival" guys on the tube does it but...

In my limited Sierra travels, survival/comfort requires 3 things:
A warm bag as not to freeze at night -
Some sort of shelter to protect you from the elements, and -
Adequate foot protection. The rest is all subjective.

We are talking granite talus here, sharp granite at that. What are you going to do when you slice your foot open and you are 10 miles in? Suggest taking some sort of shoes along, or...die?
Maybe you could try a few high altitude, slab-granite, Sierra miles first; see how that goes.

just my 2¢
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Re: Going barefoot in the SN

Postby maverick » Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:02 pm

Welcome to HST!

Maybe before you try to take on the Sierra try something local, so you can see if
it is really something you are really interested in, and whether you can do it.
This is a Bay Area organization that hikes barefooted, you may have a local chapter
near by, you may be able to get some good info from this site.
http://www.unshod.org/ebbfhike/
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Re: Going barefoot in the SN

Postby circusoflife » Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:36 pm

Thanks...I did say I am bringing shoes... :)

Just want to do small stretches at a time I'm thinking.

Start with shoes until I am comfortable with the terrain I reckon. Obviously places with lots of sharp rocks...back to shoes. Just thinking from photos I've seen of trails...barefoot might be doable. Though I guess the stray rock/stick could always be an issue.

Thanks for the link to the barefoot club...I'm from the Seattle area though...so perhaps I can tackle some local trails around there when I get back (Living overseas at the moment). Or maybe my schedule will coincide for one of their hikes...I've got a few days at my sister's place in Sunnyvale.

After I wrote that message I realized I could work up to it to by going barefoot at some nearby parks in the suburban parks of Seattle. Though I'm leary of glass, and other manmade random objects.

I'll be spending a couple of weeks on a very very low touristed/known Caribbean island in April so that might be a time to try it...I was there in 2010 and was walking along a dried out riverbed with a ton of rocks - smooth though from the rainy season. Some maybe 10 year old kid was showing me around and he was hopping around from rock to rock barefoot like it was nothing.

I also recall now a trip to Panama in 2006 meeting some indigenous folks on a day trip and one native guy, wearing nothing more than a loincloth was easily beating me as he showed me around this waterfall area with rocks. Of course..his whole life has been barefoot I reckon probably and he knows the terrain...just need to retrain my mind & body...

Maybe get some qi/chi power activated to protect the feet too! :thumbsup:
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Re: Going barefoot in the SN

Postby maverick » Thu Jan 12, 2012 4:52 pm

HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Going barefoot in the SN

Postby circusoflife » Thu Jan 12, 2012 5:22 pm

Yea, ur link to the Bay Area club inspired me to do some more searching...

http://www.barefooters.org/hikers/ - 1993 book on Barefoot Hiking

http://billygard.home.comcast.net/~billygard/feet/

http://community.seattletimes.nwsource. ... ug=2157098

Also a new 2010 book - The Barefoot Book: 50 Great Reasons to Kick Off Your Shoes
http://www.thebarefootbook.com/

Image

Looks like a book I need to purchase when back in the USA!

Check out this episode of Stan Lee Superhumans Season 2 - Episode 1...Unbreakable...Qi power...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5sSTAplF8A

Just one of many Shaolin / Qi videos floating around...
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Re: Going barefoot in the SN

Postby Mike M. » Thu Jan 12, 2012 5:31 pm

Sounds crazy to me . . . but I suppose it's possible some of the Native Americans who sought refuge from the summer heat of the valley, way back before Europeans set foot in California, ventured up there barefoot. Or maybe they wore moccasins. You'd have to have pretty tough feet to negotiate most of the high country trails.

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Re: Going barefoot in the SN

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Jan 12, 2012 5:38 pm

circusoflife wrote:Thanks...I did say I am bringing shoes... :)

Just want to do small stretches at a time I'm thinking.

Start with shoes until I am comfortable with the terrain I reckon. Obviously places with lots of sharp rocks...back to shoes.


You might be able to do meadow segments barefoot. Walking in manure might not be very much fun.

Going up over passes, shoes. Going up switchbacks filled with roots and granite lined waterbars and rocks and pine cones... shoes. Trails in forested areas ... shoes.

I would never ever ever walk barefoot in the Sierra - I'm one of the lucky who has stepped on a rattlesnake coiled in the trail. A tiny one that did not try to bite me, but a wake up call.

If you go barefoot all the time everywhere and have feet tough and horn hard, you could probably do well on those trails, all are well traveled. But between stock use and natural items that hurt like heck and decomposed granite that will eat into the calluses on the bottoms of your feet (not to mention the actual granite, which can make up the entire trail and a few acres on either side, and be rough as a rasp) I think you should have good shoes and plan to wear them.
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Re: Going barefoot in the SN

Postby circusoflife » Thu Jan 12, 2012 6:01 pm

Thanks for the additional feedback..points noted. Let's see what I can train myself to do...or perhaps untrain myself from our "civilized" ways...

Check this Discovery Channel video I just found...yeehaw!

The Tarahumara - A Hidden Tribe of Superathletes Born to Run
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnwIKZhrdt4

Apparently some book called BORN TO RUN was written about the Tarahumara too...has 900+ reviews on Amazon #1 in its category.....perhaps parallels stories I've read about Kenyans running barefoot (And winning marathons), etc...
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Re: Going barefoot in the SN

Postby balzaccom » Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:12 pm

When I was a little kid one of my dreams was to have tough bare feet like Natty Bumpo so that I could wander in the wilderness like a real Indian.

Of course that story was written by a guy who never spent much time in the mountains.

And having hiked well over 1,000 miles in the SIerra, I think I would give us just about any other part of my equipment before I'd give up a pair of shoes. Stub your toe once on that granite and you'll be limping for a week. And I can't remember a time when I didn't stub a toe, catch a root, or slip and slide a bit down a trail. in shoes, no problem. barefoot? Potentially final solution to the trip.
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Re: Going barefoot in the SN

Postby maverick » Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:48 pm

The only barefooted backpacker that I have run into in the backcountry was a
younger man from India, who was hiking on the JMT coming up over Donohue
Pass from the south back in 1995.
Do not know if he was just section hiking, or doing the entire JMT, but he most
likely has been hiking without shoes for many, many years.
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Re: Going barefoot in the SN

Postby quentinc » Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:22 pm

A hiking group I sometimes join did the Benson Lake loop 2 years ago, and the leader hiked the entire thing barefoot. Actually, to be fair, he did put on "five fingers" thingies for a few short, particularly rocky stretches. He did have a slightly unpleasant time with some of the rockiest downhill stretches, but no more than I did (on account of my knees). He's also run marathons barefoot.

So it can be done. It will never be done by me.
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