As part of my public service, I am going to tell you about some of the details that help make my walking easier, if not possible. As you might imagine, the condition of my feet occupies much of my time. This is very unlike my usual behaviour in which, like probably most of you, I don’t give a second thought to my feet. But when I intend to spend a lot of time walking, then the feet take priority. First, I wear a pair of what are called, euphemistically, “light hikers”, made by Lowa. They are actually pretty heavy and I would prefer them lighter, but they work extremely well for me. The pair I am now wearing are size 13, a full size larger than the ones I have used for the past few years. The result? No more lost toenails – at least not yet. And I have been walking 18 km every second day for weeks.

Second, I use a set of little gel toe inserts that keep my toes separated, so that they do not rub against each other with the resultant friction and blisters. The photo shows two types, the heavier ones which fit between the big toe and the next one. The others separate the other toes. The reason that I need these is because I have bunions, which push my big toe into the others, causing overlaps and other problems. The bunions don’t hurt, but they do deform the feet. I went to a foot surgeon a few months ago to see what, if anything, could be done and his advice was, if it doesn’t hurt and doesn’t cause difficulty walking, then do nothing. So that is what I’ve done.

Still with the feet, but another issue entirely. Last year while in France, my friend Karsten from Berlin was very late one morning getting out to start the day’s walk. What had happened is that another pilgrim had taken his boots and left another pair, almost identical, but 1/2 size larger. At the end of the day, they met up and exchanged boots. I pondered about how to reduce the probability of this happening. My solution is to make the boots unique in some way. What I have done is use a pair of beads (courtesy of Carroll) and thread them onto the laces of the boots. This won’t prevent anyone from stealing the boots, but that’s unlikely anyway. In some of the hostels, the boots are stored in a common place and since many boots are similar, one could easily get the wrong boots. The beads should tell anyone else that these are not their boots.



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