Last Saturday was another of the monthly Adventure Hikes led by Columbus MetroParks Executive Director John O’Meara. The starting temperature was around 25°, and the forecast high was only about 34°.
Did I do the hike barefoot? Do I look like an idiot? (Don’t answer that question.) But I did do it half-shod (one foot bare and one foot shod ).
Here we all are in the parking lot before the hike. I was actually barefoot at this point, my feet having come out of a nice warm car, and they weren’t going to cool off that quickly.
Let me say a nice word about the volunteers. There are a whole bunch of MetroPark volunteers who go along on all of the organized hikes. A more dedicated bunch you will not find anywhere. You can often identify them by their yellow shirts (though not quite so much in the winter). But this picture has Bill and Russ and Ron. Charlene also accompanied us.
We started by heading up the Cemetery Ridge Trail (a route we’ve done before, but in the opposite direction). This way we start right off with a big hill, which really gets the heart pumping and warmed us right up.
Here we are when we hit the intersection with the Chestnut Trail.
You will notice something you won’t see very often: I have on footwear, in this case moccasins. Over the years I have learned my limits and do not want to irrevocably damage my feet; while the moccasins deprive me of spiritual wholeness, providence does not require that I deliberately damage myself.
But the moccasins were all I needed. They’re only about 2mm thick (yes, Mr. Anal here got out a micrometer and carefully measured them), and when combined with the general cold conditioning of my feet and the fact that all my muscles and tendons were still free to move and help pump warm blood into my feet, that was all I needed. But I was still deprived of a tactile connectedness with the earth.
Just before lunch at the Barnebey Hambleton picnic area we descended down to Lake Ramona (240 feet down, followed by 130 feet back up), which was frozen over pretty good.
You can also see a Ron and two Jims (if I remember my names correctly).
And here I am, too.
As you can see, I’m barefoot at this point. This is where the half-shod part comes in. By the start of the Chestnut trail, my feet were feeling pretty warm, so I went barefoot for the next 1¼ mile. After that, my feet cooled down a bit too much, so I went shod again for another half mile (I was also influence by the fact that the “trail” was mostly gravel). But then they were warmed again by the time we headed down to Lake Ramona; hence this picture.
I did that in general for most of the hike; wearing the moccasins until my feet got warm enough, then shedding them until I was concerned that they might be getting too stressed with cold.
It’s a very effective strategy to continue to go barefoot, earthshod, earth-connected, as much as possible.
Here’s a bunch of folks having lunch at the picnic area.
And here’s a few hikers. That’s John O’Meara in front with Jim, and John’s wife Helen right in front of me. We just left the gravelly part of the Chestnut trail, and I’ve returned to being barefoot.
I was shod going down the Fern, but when we headed back up, I was ready to go barefoot again.
Since we did the trail “backwards” from usual, the Hemlock trail, and its descent was near the end. Here are some folks starting that descent.
By the way, it was a beautiful day. Although the temperatures barely broke freezing, it was a clear, sunny day—absolutely wonderful hiking weather.
At the bottom of the Hemlock trail was a very nice ice curtain along the stream.
At this point, I shod up again; it was shady and the ground was well-frozen. Common sense counts.
This was one of the faster Adventure Hikes. There were 22 of us who started out, but I think only about 15 did the whole thing (there are plenty of opportunities to take short cuts back for those who’ve felt they’ve done enough. We started about 9:00am and finished around 1:40pm (which included stopping for lunch). Total distance by my reckoning (and my Clear Creek Mileage Calculator) was 11.6 miles. I did 4.9 of that barefoot (and yes, I only include that 4.9 in my barefoot mileage count). So I really wasn’t “half-shod”; but 58% shod. Whatever.
Once we got back to the parking lot my feet were hot again, so I hung around barefoot for a bit there as we hikers talked a bit. One person who hadn’t hiked it before seeing me barefoot was concerned about my feet being oddly colored. Weren’t they awfully cold?
Well, this picture was taken about 24 hours after the hike. The coloring is the dye from the moccasins staining my feet, not any damage to them. And I let her know that.
Once again, it was a great Saturday spent hiking through nature, and it well worth it. There’s another one scheduled for the second Saturday in March.