Posted by: GeekHiker | February 11, 2010

Hiking Deficiency

So, you may all have noticed that, for a blog supposedly about hiking as well as general geekery, there hasn’t been a whole lot of hiking posts of late.

The reason is simple: I haven’t been hiking.

Why?  Oh, I’m so glad you asked…

After the New Year was rung in, I decided it was finally time to replace my hiking boots.  The Montrails had served me okay, but had become decidedly more painful over the last year or so.  As it turned out, it wasn’t just a worn out insole, which can usually be replaced with a pair of SuperFeet; instead, it appears the entire lower part of the boot simply decided to fall apart inside.  While it’s not uncommon for feet to be sore after a long day on the trail, but the level of pain was getting ridiculous.

I ended up going to several stores, trying on every boot I could try on.  The problem was that I’ve been hiking for a lot of years, and as a result I’ve become pretty damn picky about my boots.  I want it to fit a certain way, move a certain way, have a certain tread, a certain stiffness in the sole, yet a certain amount of flexibility, etc., etc. etc.

I finally settled on a pair of Vasque Switchback GTX’s.  I worry that the fit might be a little tight (no wide model was available), but otherwise they’re a pretty good pair of boots.  If my last experience with Vasque is anything to go by (they lasted 8+ years and were only retired after a hole wore through in the side of the boot), they should be pretty well bomb-proof.

Anyway, new hiking boots in hand (or on foot, as the case may be), I figured I was ready to hit the trail strong.

Then I broke a toe.

And have, ever since, developed a whole new level of respect for what the smallest toe on the foot contributes to the simple act of walking.

And I have also re-learned a basic fact: broken bones take time to heal.  Much longer than you want them to and much longer than, given the size of the bones involved, they have any right to.

So, for the last few weeks, I figured I’d skip the whole clenching my jaw and taking-it-like-a-man-and-sucking-up-the-pain and just let things heal properly.  And things were feeling pretty good going into this weekend, so I thought I might hit the trail Sunday, for a short hike at least.

When Sunday morning rolled around I woke up from a really odd dream, wherein I was desperately looking for a restroom while nursing a really sore back.  I thought to myself “hm, that was an odd dream” and started to move out of bed to head for the bathroom.

Which is when I realized that I had somehow twisted my body into the shape of a pretzel.  Seriously, the lower half of my frame was 180 degrees from my upper half.

I didn’t make a sound.  Silent screams are like that.

So, instead of hitting the trail, I spent the rest of my day on a heating pad, reading books and watching the Super Bowl.

(Speaking of which, I’m not a huge sports guy.  Heck, I barely ever even watch sports.  But watching the Saints win was pretty darn awesome, wasn’t it?  I’m a sucker for a good underdog story.)

And when I went to bed?  The toe ached like heck, for no discernible reason.

So, sadly, I guess I won’t be placing a pack on my aching back and cramming my still-slightly-swollen toe into those beautiful new hiking boots and hitting the trail any time soon.

With a little luck, though, maybe I’ll be ready in time for spring…



  1. How did you break your toe? Did I miss that post? Did you fall of a ledge and, barely hanging on by your fingernails, have to pull yourself up the side of the mountain with your fingers and toes? Say yes, because that’s an exciting story.

  2. Bummer about your ailments. I’m sure a young whippersnapper like yourself will heal up in no time.

  3. I was going to ask the “how” question but I thought it might be something more mundane like kicking the bedpost in a moment of rage! 😉

    I love Vasque! It took me three trips to REI and three trips on the trail in three different shoes to find my perfect Vasque hiking boots. I have since bought three pairs of their trail running shoes and they are all awesome!

    Hope you will feel better soon!!

  4. Keep blogging, though, I really enjoy your entries, hiking related or not. I just went throught the whole hiking boot thing, too. I ended up with a pair of Vasque Wasatches, which so far I love. Hope you feel better soon!

  5. Boots and packs, when fitted improperly, can ruin even the shortest of trips. Glad you got the right pair and glad you’re letting yourself heal properly so that you can fully enjoy your time out there. The wait will be worth it.

  6. Oh no, Geekhiker, feel better! I was wondering about your hikes but I thought either you were busy or liked hiking in the spring better. I hope you feel better, that’s just miserable.

    How did you break your toe? Is it your lower back that’s in pain?

  7. Yikes! Feel better soon! Perhaps a pizza and a movie would help? 😉 Seriously, I too, enjoy reading your posts, hiking related or not. You have a great way of telling a story. 🙂

  8. It’s important to have a good, snug pair of hiking boots on. Some tennis/running shoes make for good hiking shoes, and they’re usually more comfortable. I would suggest that novice hikers try a good pair of Nike sneakers, over risking uncomfortable boots..

  9. I’ve broken my toe a couple times. I even hiked up Diamondhead in Hawaii with a broken little toe – not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.

    You’re handling it a lot better than I did. Heal up, enjoy your trip, and before you know it you’ll be back on the trail.

  10. Those boots are beautiful (and yes, I know they are not suppose to be pretty, they are suppose to work well, yadayada). Oh, and feel all better soon.

  11. Dingo – You forgot about the fact that I was fighting off two bears and three mountain lions at the time…

    S’Dizzle – I’m not so young as I used to be…

    K – I’ve tried other brands, but I guess Vasque is the boot for me…

    Zevensphin – Welcome to the site. Maybe I should start a Vasque fan website?

    CMACC – I hope so, cuz the wait is killin me!

    Spleeness – The advantage (one of the few) to being in L.A. is that you can hike year-round. Yeah, it’s the lower back. *sigh*

    MissMcCracken – Thanks, I think you just made me blush!

    SixFlagsBankrupcy – Welcome to the site. Sneakers work for some, but I tend to prefer a stiffer shank in the sole…

    Homer-Dog – I’m yearning for your flat trails right now!

    Narami – There’s no rule that says hiking boots can’t be good looking AND functional. And thanks!

  12. Ok, this is a bit delayed, but if it’s your lower back, in addition to working on back/ab muscles (when you’re in recovery), also helpful is stretching your hamstrings. People don’t realize how tight they get. I used to volunteer in a PT clinic and they stressed that tight hams will pull down on the pelvis and strain lower back muscles and make them more susceptible to injury. It’s one of the most common reasons low back pain is so common.

    I hope you’re feeling better! Make sure you do exercises to recover and don’t forget to stretch. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: