I like to hike. And so when I saw an article in my local paper talking about barefoot hiking and how it's taking the country by storm (ok a tad exaggeration on my part), I decided to try it. I grew up in the Caribbean and basically ran around barefoot as a kid. How bad was it going to be? So I signed up with a local barefoot hikers group in my area and committed to going on a two mile hike. I tried to recruit a few of my friends to try this new endeavor, but I only got looks of 'you crazy' and 'hell no'. On the day of the hike I updated my Facebook status to say 'out barefoot hiking'. Here are a few responses, direct quotes. Names have been changed to protect the 'innocent'.
eah...good luck with that one
i live in da hood
u trying to catch something chick
a damn fool
First of all u black...what you doing hiking?
Anyhoo, I quickly read up on what I should know about barefoot hiking. The hike leader went over some instructions for the beginners and we set off on a two mile hike. At first it was weird and uncomfortable as the pads of your feet are sensitive but then you quickly get into a groove. You experience new sensations, ones you would not feel when you're out hiking in shoes. I found that I noticed animals on the ground more, the spiders, ants, holes in the ground. Walking barefoot truly is like an amazing foot massage. Nature's springy moss is THE most amazing texture to walk on and I found myself practically skipping along the trail to find the next patch to walk on. You notice the silence more, no longer are boots slapping against the ground, just bare feet.
Would I do this again? Absolutely. Would I recommend it? Yes. Find a heavily wooded area where lots of leaves and moss are guaranteed to be on the ground even in the summer. Make sure the trails are fairly clear of debris like broken branches, trash and smaller sharp pebbles. And when you go out for your first time, try to walk for a mile or less than two.