Want to supercharge your wilderness experience? Hike barefoot! Take off your shoes, says Michael Sandler, author of Barefoot Walking, who once dayhiked the Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon without ever putting on his shoes. “It’s like suddenly going to high-definition,” he says. “Your mind quiets, and all your senses improve as you focus on each footstep.”
Hike barefoot safely:
- Take baby steps. Your first time on a trail, go a max of about 200 yards. Give yourself a rest day to let your feet recover, then ramp up by adding just 100 yards at a time.
- Seek hard surfaces. For the first month, concrete and hard-packed trail will give you the sensory feedback you need to make sure you’re using good form and aren’t slamming your heels. For more walking tips, go to backpacker.com/howtowalk.
- Let your skin guide you. It’s going to feel painful first. Always carry shoes (“I call them hand-weights,” Sandler says). When your soles feel tender, lace up.
Get more tips at mindfulrunning.org.