Bear Mountain

I went on my first barefoot hike Sunday morning. My family and I were camping with several other families over the weekend. They're all used to me being barefoot at these outtings, but sadly, rarely join me (the adults that is...).

Well, we went for a short hike up Bear Mountain and I went up barefoot. They thought this very strange, but only made a few comments, in a friendly way. A lot of the kids wanted to join me, but their parents wouldn't let that happen. One young girl was wearing sneakers because her brand new hiking shoes hurt her feet so much. How can you really tell people about the sensuality of being in contact with the earth - barefeet and solid ground?! I simply explained that I thought it was healthy, safe, and felt just great.

When I first heard about Richards book on hiking barefoot, I thought the idea was a bit on the fringe. Even though I've been an avid barefooter, I was concerned that an entire hike would be too much. Somehow, this weekend, I knew that I had been wrong, and I knew that it would be a wonderful experience. It was! Ironically, as other more "safety" oriented hikers went trucking up the mountain with me, they clunked and clanked along, carrying the weight of heavy "hiking shoes". I heard them kick and stumble on rocks. All the while, I was gliding up the mountain, light of step and silent as I moved. I felt that I blended in better with the environment. I never stumbled, or hurt my feet in any way. Being barefoot keeps you much more in tune with the terraine, and therefore less apt to slip or stumble. The earth felt cool and my feet were never so comfortable on a hike before. Now I can't imagine ever wearing shoes on a hike again, especially on these beautiful, soft, cool trails that abound here in the Adirondacks.

And now I'm going to be ordering Richards book - it's a pretty exciting subject. The thought of hiking barefoot seemed a bit crazy not too long ago, and now I can't wait for my next chance! Now if I could only get my wife to share my enthusiasm. She loves to go barefoot, but not out in public the way that I do, and she thought that my barefoot hike was unsafe, and my feet would be sore. They weren't, not a bit. So she was a somewhat surprised by the results. Guess I'll just have to continue to set the good example. Just wanted to share the elation of my first barefoot hike with some kindred spirits. Thanks.

George Ross

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