I have taken to borrowing my wife’s trekking poles when I go on my long hikes in Whiting Ranch. The big question that I suppose you are asking is whether they help or whether they are just extra weight. They do work as advertised, helping me on both uphills and downhills.
As you know, I am not a strong climber due to my heart defect, a narrowing of the coronary artery. This is as it sounds — one of the arteries feeding my heart has a section where it attenuates. It means that I have to watch my cholesterol and moderate my speed on uphills. The trekking poles help me go a little faster. I struggle less and can go farther on steep stretches before I tire.
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Whenever I change shoes, I endure a period of time when my feet have to press themselves into the insoles and teach my new chassures their ways. The friction and the emptiness between them leads the balls of my feet to fill with fluid which grow large and painful. Then they pop. An annoying flap of skin hangs in their place.
My mother used to tell me about how Calvin Coolidge’s son died because he popped his own blister with a needle. I have since learned that this isn’t bad if you have a clean needle, but recently I did something very stupid: I stripped the loose skin where the blister had been and paid for it in soreness and risked infection.
Only after I performed my little surgery did I learn that one shouldn’t do that. The skin forms a natural bandage and eventually reconnects with the foot to form a callous. I had to rub the exposed spot with antibiotic ointment and cover it with a bandage. When a large blister formed on the other foot, I left the skin in place, covered the area in ointment, and held it in place with a bandage. Oh, what a difference it made!
Wide fire roads and ranch roads from the days before foothill subdivisions attract trail bikers to the Southern California wilderness margins. Some will dare the narrow single tracks and in some cases local parks authorities allow this. Just witness the Cactus Hill, Sleepy Hollow and Sage Scrub trails in Whiting. Walking should not entail taking your life into your hands, but keen use of all the senses especially sound and sight will keep you bones unbroken and your vitals unsquashed. Most bikers show respect for walkers. There are those, however, who forget themselves as they feel the adrenaline rush of speed and forget that paths in the chaparral are not rides at Disneyland or Knotts Berry Farm.
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It felt like I was walking on a twig laid across where the forward ball of my foot ascended to the arch. I limped along, wondering what had gotten into my shoe. When I got home, I took my shoes and socks off. The sock had a huge hole and curled edges. I concluded that that was the cause of my suffering.
Yesterday, I found a pair of clean socks not in need of repair, put them on with my boots, and walked a few steps only to find that the pain had returned. I sat down in my red retro chair, took off the boot, and shook it. Nothing came out. I rolled off the sock and examined my foot where I found a long, irregular blister spread over the sore spot. The notion of puncturing it with a needle passed through my head but briefly: I did not want to be an heir in death to Calvin Coolidge, Jr.
A better remedy from Boy Scouts suggested itself: I taped a Bandaid over it. This pushed down the lump and prevented the skin from stretching as I walked. The pain bothered me just a little and only on slopes.
First aid for blisters.