- Feb 27, 2017 at 8:03 am #3453090
A lot of water down here in Southern CA, which means a lot of stream crossings on local hikes. I love it, it’s a refreshing change from so much drought.
But it’s confusing people. Nobody knows how to cross it.
I saw a woman lose her big toenail last week. She didn’t want to get her shoes wet so she waded across a silt-filled stream where you couldn’t see the bottom and tripped and stubbed her toe.
I’ve seen many people turned back at the first crossing. Fear of wet shoes combined with a fear of being barefoot is a powerful thing apparently.
I saw a man hurt himself by balancing on a log to get to a rock to jump to the other side. He slipped off the log and went down hard. All to avoid getting his shoes wet.
These people look at me in wonder as if I’m some sort of shaman when I walk through a stream with my shoes on.
What is it about wet shoes? The fear is so powerful that people are apparently willing to hurt themselves to avoid them.Feb 27, 2017 at 8:14 am #3453092
Brando SanchoBPL Member
You must have been at the start of Eaton Canyon.Feb 27, 2017 at 8:22 am #3453094
When I started hiking and backpacking I thought I would get blisters with wet feet. It took me several years to figure out that merino socks and meshy trail runners will dry out very quickly. I agree that people make too big a deal about wet shoes but I totally get the fear of blisters.
Newer hikers perhaps have softer feet more prone to blisters? That might be a contributing factor.
I think everyone here realizes that one key to backpacking and hiking well is to not overthink things and rely too much on fancy gear and complicated solutions. It’s all not a big deal. We are just walking…Feb 27, 2017 at 8:28 am #3453097
Yeah, I think there is a common perception that your trip will be ruined by blisters or worse if you get your feet wet. I have received the same strange looks when walking through water. You’d think I was walking on water.Feb 27, 2017 at 8:34 am #3453098
Decades of marketing telling us that waterproof shoes are the way to go, combined with spending most of our lives trying to keep our clothes dry while at work/school/etc are very difficult things to let go of.
I think it takes quite a bit of bravery to cast all that aside, and for the first time head out for a multi-day hike in mesh trail runners and get your shoes soaking wet within the first 3 miles.Feb 27, 2017 at 8:48 am #3453102
Todd StoughBPL Member
I’d like to try the shoes you guys wear. I find even my minimal trail runners stay very wet and uncomfortable for a long time, they seem to never dry out, it’s too humid here. Having my feet soaked all day isn’t fun. Maybe if I hiked a few more hours they would dry enough to not bother me?Feb 27, 2017 at 9:03 am #3453106
They don’t dry as fast here as they do walking out west. But even wet shoes are no big deal unless it’s really cold.Feb 27, 2017 at 9:34 am #3453110
Yeah my experience is in AZ and CA with thin merino socks. My shoes feel pretty dry in five minutes of walking and are really dry in 30 minutes.Feb 27, 2017 at 9:45 am #3453111
I love that look of disbelief. You did not just do that!?!
Always a good laugh at Fourmile Creek on the LCT.Feb 27, 2017 at 9:49 am #3453112
Todd StoughBPL Member
Matthew. Here in PA I can set my wet shoes outside all night in the dead of summer and they are just as wet the next day. I’m sure at some point they’ll get wet while hiking. I try to keep them dry if possible.Feb 27, 2017 at 10:00 am #3453116
I’ve been running in wet shoes for a few months now; I’m soaking them again nearly daily before they have a chance to dry. No blisters, no big deal. Saturday I hiked 20 miles with wet feet for 18 miles. No blisters, no big deal. Footwear combo is either Injinji socks with Altra Lone Peak 3.0 or no socks and New Balance Minimus V4.
I think that at times even experienced shoe-wetters need a reminder. I’ve nearly sliced my foot really bad in the Sierra because I was crossing barefoot due to trying to keep my shoes dry. Good to remember from time to time that dry shoes aren’t worth an injury in the backcountry.
I know we all love seeing “that guy”. The one with army pants, “tactical” boots, a “tactical” pack, lots of rope and carabiners for who knows what, and the requisite really big knife on the shoulder strap. I kid not, I saw that guy get turned around at the first stream crossing only one mile in last Friday. Ready for the apocalypse…but wet feet? Yuck.Feb 27, 2017 at 11:53 am #3453147
I’m with you Craig, but it took some time. One of the last extras I gave up were the Crocs used as camp shoes and for stream crossings. In 2010 I was hiking the Old Loggers Path in PA with three other friends (all of whom brought Crocs or other water shoes because we knew there was a stream crossing). Being the “idea guy” that I am I brought two tall kitchen trash bags…The plan was that I would put the bags on over my trail runners and tie them around my knees. Even if I got small holes in them I’d be across before the bags filled with water, right?
NOT! I wasn’t much past this point when the bags filled with water to the depth of the stream and my shoes and socks were completely soaked. That was the trip when I learned that my trail runners will dry pretty quickly even after being submerged AND that hiking in wet feet (i.e. rain) is not a problem for me.
For socks I only wear a pair of liner socks and have not had any issues with blisters. When the guys I’m hiking with take forever to cross a stream because they’re either changing footwear or walking up and downstream a fair distance to see if there’s a way across while keeping their feet dry I’ll just keep hiking (they all seem to love their Goretex hiking shoes). Often, at least in PA, crossing a stream means you’re about to head uphill, which in my case means generating a lot of heat and will dry my feet.
Todd – Perhaps it’s your design of your shoes that causes them to stay wet. I wear New Balance MO889 (once reviewed here by Roger Caffin) and really like them.Feb 27, 2017 at 12:06 pm #3453153
Sam CBPL Member
I’m from Southern California, yet grew up in NorCal. Drizzle is all takes to send a typical Californian running in fear as though the Apocalypse was looming on the horizon. Also, the State floods roughly once every 30 years from massive rain storms.
Your story does not surprise me at all. Or, perhaps they didn’t want to ruin their $500 hiking shoes?Feb 27, 2017 at 12:07 pm #3453155
That is a great picture Kevin, hilarious.
I think the “fast drying trail runner” advice gets thrown around casually without much clarification. It’s pretty subjective; “fast drying” in many cases actually means hours or half a day.Feb 27, 2017 at 12:17 pm #3453160
Kevin, you look like a member of ABBA who decided to go on a backpacking trip.Feb 27, 2017 at 12:31 pm #3453164
ABBA – perfect! This was my first weekend with a GG Murmur and I went pretty minimalist. I didn’t have room to pack my Crocs or I might have tried.
Here’s another photo of me crossing the same stream (at the same place) in April 2008 (two years earlier):
The water was considerably higher than it was when I went in June two years later (my previous photo). I’m wearing Crocs here. I carefully put my boots in a white trash bag (notice a theme here?) and stuck it under the lid of my pack. Looking more critically at this photo I can see how close I was to losing my boots entirely if they had slipped out of my pack – the current would have carried them away. That would not have been fun.
I remember this trip well – the guy I was hiking with was so afraid of getting his feet wet (it was the first weekend in April and there was still snow in many places) that I took off my pack on the other side and crossed again to carry his pack over. He scooted across a fallen log on his rear-end and his feet stayed dry. I no longer hike with him…Feb 27, 2017 at 12:52 pm #3453174
Kevin – I particularly like the change in your pack size/complexity from 2008 to 2010.
I no longer hike with him…
I have a list of guys like that…now that I think about it, I may be the problem! :)Feb 27, 2017 at 1:29 pm #3453180
Bob MoulderBPL Member
@bobmny10562Locale: Westchester County, NY
Kevin, you may recall a couple of years ago when I crossed Loyalsock with Cyrus. I got a couple of quizzical looks on the other side as if to say, “Wow, you can really do that??!!”
Kinda damp for a while thereafter but not a problem at all. I was wearing Brooks Cascadias and WrightSocks.
Life is so much easier with trail runners. ;^)Feb 27, 2017 at 1:48 pm #3453187
JCH – While most of the pack size change was due to learning and confidence, some of it was due to the time of year (early April versus early June). I remember packing for that trip in April…I had just purchased my first lightweight pack (a SMD Starlight) and I almost cried when I put my 15-degree sleeping bag in it (a SD Sandman) and there wasn’t room for anything else! I had to go back to my Arcteryx Bora 80 for that trip. I now carry a ZPacks Arc Zip and couldn’t be happier.
Bob – I do remember that crossing, but I think Ed and I took the bridge across (it was a road bridge under construction and we had to cross on the side because there wasn’t any planking spanning the bridge. If given the choice I’ll keep my feet dry (especially at the end of October) but I am willing to get my feet wet.Feb 27, 2017 at 2:48 pm #3453202
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Ah yes, the yearly ‘wet feet’ discussion.
Running Stream: maybe 4 km of narrow slot canyon, vertical rock walls, no banks. A very fine trip, but our feet were slightly damp …
Waterproof GTX boots sell for more $$ than simple self-draining light joggers. The sales margin is much higher. So what do you expect to find being recommended in gear shops?
Anyhow, if the novices al turn back at the first creek crossing, that just leaves the backcounty less polluted. This is good, yes?
CheersFeb 27, 2017 at 3:09 pm #3453207
Philip TschersichBPL Member
@philip-akLocale: Kodiak Alaska
I do keep my feet dry when backpacking.
But packrafting? I don’t even try. 6 days and 110 miles of wet feet.Feb 27, 2017 at 4:08 pm #3453223
jeffrey armbrusterBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
Fixing Your Feet is an excellent book about blister prevention (and everything else) as told by many different ultra runners, etc. One thing that you notice is that everyone has to discover their own fixes. Some people have no issues with wet feet; others almost immediately develop blisters with wet feet. And so on. This is a good reminder that what works for one person’s body doesn’t mean that it should be insisted upon as correct practice for everyone else.
But to a large degree our bodies ARE our reality, and so naturally we assume what’s normal for us is for everyone else too. The angry “What, are you deaf!!?” response to someone who doesn’t answer us is based on the assumption that everyone hears just like us.Feb 27, 2017 at 4:35 pm #3453232
Just a hunch, but I suspect for some older people the memories of wet leather boots that, once wet, stay wet for the duration of the trip, may have some bearing on their reluctance. I know one such guy, a hard as nails old liner from Maine, of French Canadian stock, who to this day, even with trail running shoes, takes them off and wades the rockiest of streams. That would destroy many pairs of feet, but then his feet are as tough as the rest of him, and I have never seen him wince. Me? I’ll go with wet shoes, but I do stop to remove my orthotics. They’re too damn expensive to trash by wading in them.Feb 27, 2017 at 4:58 pm #3453244
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
one such guy, a hard as nails old liner from Maine, of French Canadian stock, who to this day, even with trail running shoes, takes them off and wades the rockiest of streams. That would destroy many pairs of feet, but then his feet are as tough as the rest of him,
Two thoughts about that:
* We lost one well-known walker when her foot jammed between two rocks in a river (she slipped on the rock) and she could not get her foot unjammed. She drowned. With shoes you could at least cut the laces.
* I want to see him do that in snow melt. Your feet are instantly numb, you lose all proprioception, and you can easily damage your feet. Bruising or ripping skin off. Now walk like that.
CheersFeb 27, 2017 at 7:35 pm #3453290
Katherine .BPL Member
Fear of breaking my neck + knowing I can put bread bags or sil stuff sacks over my sleep socks in camp keeps me walking right through.
Love the bit about them looking at you like a shaman.
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