Friday, November 19, 2010

Shoe Troubles....

Sunrise from camp!
August 5: It was bound to happen eventually--a bad pair of shoes. After less than 30 miles of hiking, my new shoes had fallen apart worse than those I wore for 700 miles. Shoddy piece of junk. Yes, I know, a lot of you are probably thinking, "Serves you right for buying shoes at Payless!" But in my defense, you can buy bad shoes just about anywhere. I've traveled thousands of miles with Payless shoes without problems, but these shoes took the definition of a bad shoe to levels I never imagined existed.

Not only were the shoes quickly falling apart, but as they did so, my feet hurt worse and worse. Each step was a painful experience. Blisters started to form for the first time in months. I slapped moleskin on in the appropriate places and pushed on. What else could I do? What I really wanted to do was hurl them through the front window of the store I bought them, but that was hard to do from the middle of the Marble Mountain Wilderness. And, as bad as the shoes were, it was still preferable to walking barefoot!

For the second time in less than a week, I didn't see a single thru-hiker the entire day. In fact, I almost didn't see anyone for the entire day--it wasn't until about five in the afternoon when I passed a couple of southbound hikers.
Views! Views! Everywhere! If you're looking for a nice
place to go backpacking, Northern California

Late in the day, the trail dropped dramatically, thousands of feet, down towards Seiad Valley. Until then, the views--once again--were spectacular. Once below treeline, however, the views vanished and the bugs started flitting about in large numbers. Not a good sign so early in the afternoon. And as the elevation dropped, the temperature rose. Without a thermometer, I could only guess, but it felt like it must have been above 90 degrees. And deep in the trees, there wasn't the slightest breeze to help stay cool. The shade helped, but I'd have traded the shade away for a nice breeze.

I camped at the junction with Grider Creek Trail--an absolutely awful campsite thick with bugs. I checked my topo map hoping to find something better somewhere ahead, but there was nothing. The trail followed alongside the creek for miles--no way to avoid camping near the water. The tree cover continued for miles--nowhere ahead to find an exposed ridgeline. Even campsite options were limited on the steep slopes the trail went down. So I grudgingly camped by Grider Creek, lathered myself with DEET, massaged my poor feet, and examined my shoes for ways to keep them going.

Remarkably, I managed to pull off 29.8 miles despite the shoes. That's quite a testament to the resiliency of my feet--earlier in the morning, I had concerns if I could even make it 20 miles. I still needed to push myself hard if I was going to meet Amanda in Ashland in four days, though.

 A guard station, which looks pretty abandoned.
The padding inside the shoe had completely collapsed, and I could feel huge lumps inside the shoe--each lump painful to walk on. I stuffed a bunch of leaves into my shoe for additional padding, and worked more leaves into the cracks of the sole to fill up the hollow spaces with something of substance--try to even out those ridges causing so many lumps in the shoe.

Ironically, just by looking at the shoes from the top, they looked sparkling new. A little dusty from the trail, but they actually still looked new. Flip them over and look at the bottoms of the shoe, though, and they looked like I'd hiked a thousand miles in them. Feel inside of them and they were so lumpy, you'd assume they must have just been purely for display purposes. No way anyone could walk in those.

Well, maybe the leaves I stuffed in the shoe will help. We'll see in the morning....

For those keeping track--yes, there
is still patches of snow on the trail!

By the end of the day, the trail fell
back below treeline. Blah!
I camped near this bridge over Grider Creek.


Anonymous said...

I've had those cheap shoes fail when the honey comb interior of the heels collapsed leaving bumps inside to step on.

Anonymous said...

REI often has sales on hiking boots which would outlast several pairs of your Payless finds and cost about the same-- a lot less painfully. Just sayin'...

Sue KuKu said...

I buy my tennis shoes at Payless and use them for my everyday walking around shoes. I've done this for years.

I recently bought a pair that within a couple of weeks or so of normal wearing, the uppers started pulling out from the soles.

I've never had that happen before. I bought another pair of tennis shoes there and they are just fine.

Maybe they got a bad batch and we both got shoes from it!


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

The shoe situation must have been horrible.
For lightweight hiking shoes we like to head to Big 5 Sporting Goods. We never pay more than $20 for a good quality pair of real hiking boots. And most of the time we have sales with drop the price down to as low as $10 a pair.
Which is a good thing because my twin sons are growing like crazy and already wear a size 13, so the shoes will outlast them.

Hike On!
~Twinville Trekkers

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Oh! And I forgot to add: That is NOT a bridge crossing that's a log...with a flimsy looking railing along it's sides. :D

Did you really cross that thing? Scary.

Hike On!
~Twinville Trekkers