A number of years ago I trained for and participated in a 60 mile walk over three days. From the first days of training there was emphasis on what we were to wear on our feet. Your shoes will make or break your walk, they told us.
One of our training meetings was held at a retail outlet for a major athletic shoe company. I won my first pair of expensive, properly fitted hiking shoes. To be honest, I didn’t understand what people were talking about when they said their perfectly good appearing shoes had worn out. I wore all my shoes until the soles came off or holes appeared.
That hike taught me how important foot protection is when walking long distances. I had some major blisters. Some people lost their toenails, and others had to drop out of the walk with other foot problems. I made it to the end, but it was challenging.
I have two pair of hiking shoes now, low ones and ankle high ones. I’ve had them for over a year and both pair are pretty well broken in. I know how they feel and how they perform. I’m not sure which pair I will take to the Grand Canyon, but it will probably be the ankle boots, both for protection and stability.
The steep grade on the descent requires shoes with plenty of room in the toe. With every step I’ll be sliding forward slightly and I don’t want my toes rubbing against the toe of the shoe. I’ve seen the recommendation of finding a shoe that’s comfortable and then buying one half size larger. I didn’t do that with my ankle boots, but I’m hoping with the extra lacing up over my ankle that my foot won’t slide much, if at all. These boots also have a thick sole, water resistant qualities and some breathability. Sometimes I wear them for everyday wear just because they are very comfortable.
I’ve also invested in thin, wool hiking socks that don’t bag or bunch up. They are padded and wick moisture away from my feet. (Cotton absorbs moisture, stretches out, and can chafe, so no cotton.) Guidelines for the hike suggest a thin, polypropylene sock as a liner underneath the wool sock but I haven’t found those yet. The most irritating sock problem is that pair that slides down, step by step, and disappears into my shoe. I’m testing all socks to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Another foot saving precaution I’m going to take is to carry certain items in my first aid kit. I’m taking moleskin to cover any blister that appears. I’m taking a product called Body Glide which is great to prevent chafing anywhere it occurs.