The Discovery Channel is rerunning the Dual Survival series with Dave Canterbury and the barefoot Cody Lundin. In this viewing, I’m noticing more the assumptions that are being made about Cody’s bare feet. I do a lot of hiking in various situations, barefoot of course, and these assumptions just don’t ring true. They are the typical reactions of the shod who really have never tried these sorts of barefoot feats. It may also be the case that the producers (and editors) of the show are playing up the whole barefoot thing to make it seem more difficult (and thereby “show-worthy”) than it really is.
In “After the Storm,” they are descending a bunch of fairly sharp rocks. Dave expresses his concern about them, while Cody does his usual careful stepping on them. In fact, Dave makes the comment about how sharp the rocks are and how getting cut from them could be very dangerous. The first thing to note is that, because he is barefoot, Cody descends much more cautiously. As he puts his foot on each new footing, he is getting a bunch of sensory feedback from his soles that tell him exactly how good his footing is. And that proves to make a difference—the one who slides down the hill is Dave, who not only risks a sprained ankle, but manages to cut himself on an agave (admittedly on his arm, but that could be just as dangerous). Yet, the focus is on the danger of a cut on Cody’s bare feet.
But the other comment from Dave is about how the rocks are sharp, which could lead to a cut, which could lead to an infection.
Around where I live we have Flint Ridge, which was used by the Indians from time immemorial. They actually mined the stuff there.
I’ve hiked Flint Ridge many, many times, barefoot. That’s right, I have hiked walking on flint. No problem, even if it is sharp. The secret, which you learn very quickly if you go barefoot, is not to slide or shuffle your feet. The skin, the leather, on the bottoms of your feet just doesn’t puncture easily, though it does slice. So putting your feet straight down (which you end up doing almost automatically when barefoot) easily protects from any danger on sharp rocks.