Sunday, December 29, 2013

PCT to Eagle Rock - Adventures in Shoes!! [With Follow-Up]

It's been quite a while since I blogged, or hiked for that matter!
After Josh and I backpacked the first 42 miles of the PCT in November, I have had really bad foot pain. On that hike I got some gnarly blister's under my big toes, which caused me to walk differently and led to metatarsal bruising on the balls of my feet. Knowing that this kind of pain, and blisters for that matter, are not going to be acceptable on our thru hike, I set out to find new footwear.
Finally, after three pairs of shoes, four different insoles and a trip to the doctor, I think I have found the solution.***

***Edit: No I didn't. Fuck everything about these insoles. They caused pressure blisters on the PCT and hundreds of miles of subsequent pain.***

I went to Roadrunner Sports and had my feet measured, analysed, and fitted for custom insoles. Upon wearing the insoles my pain subsided almost immediately. The consultation is free and incredibly thorough. They measured my balance, pressure points, and video taped my gait on a treadmill to see if I pronate or supinate. 

As a kid, I wore insoles for fallen arches so I was pretty sure I pronated. I also thought I wore a women's 10.5 but the last time I had my feet measured I was 40lbs heavier. So, I was surprised to find I have a neutral arch in a size 9 on the larger end of a B width. I guess your feet shrink when you lose weight. Who knew?!

The rep recommended a size 10 shoe to compensate for swelling but I ended up returning for a 10.5, a full size and a half larger than the actual measurement of my foot.

The insoles were $70 with membership. It is $25 per year to become a member, but Josh found a link online that gives you your first year for $2! With the membership you get 10% off everything and 90 days to wear your shoes and exchange them if they don't work. Getting the analysis and insoles was totally worth doing and I highly recommend it!!
[no, don't buy heat-molded insoles from anywhere - trust me.]

Now that my feet feel happy it's just a matter of embarking on an adventures in sock combinations...injinji, wrightsocks, smart wool... As for shoes, I traded in my tried and true Merrell Moab Vents with blue Super Feet and went with Brooks Cascadia 8. 

[these lasted to Julian before I switched back to merrells, trying three different sizes. I finally ended up making peace with my feet in Big Bear wearing men's size 9 Cascadia and two pair of nylon-thin mens dress socks.]

After our last visit to the shoe store, we decided to break them in on the PCT.
We hiked to Eagle Rock, which is a natural rock formation in the middle of a cow pasture around mile 106, on the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation outside of Warner Springs.

After crossing HWY 79 we made our way through the oak groves where we spotted two Coyotes in the brush. There is one in this photo, can you find him?

Continuing on, we met our first herd of cattle. Josh attempted to make friends, and seemed to be doing well with charades until the rest of the herd approached.

After leaving the herd, the trail gained in elevation until we broke free of the canopy and entered a large prairie. It was a beautiful day with crystal clear skies and views of Lake Henshaw.

The trail meanders through the field for a few miles and we felt excited for our thru hike. I tried to imagine what state we'd be in on this section of trail in the spring.

Finally, the back of the rock formation was in view. We had but one last hill to climb, if the cows would let us pass.

At the base of Eagle Rock, I met a curious cow. She didn't run like the others, but instead acted like she wanted to make contact. She was skittish but sweet and interacting with her was the high point of my day.

After I was done romancing the cows, we turned the corner to face the rock. It was as impressive in person as it is in photos! It really is an eagle! 

I was the first to climb the back of it for the photo op.

Followed by Josh

After taking our photos we sat for a bit and talked about the trail. It is overwhelming how exciting and consuming the thoughts of our thru hike have become. It's only a few months away!!

The sun was hanging low in the sky as we started our return. We took more pictures of the cows and kept our eyes peeled for crepuscular creatures in the brush.

Back at the trailhead, we decided to go for dinner...steaks of course. Sorry, cows.

It was good to be back on the trail with my sweetie, and this time with happy feet!


  1. Cool blog! I'm looking forward to reading about your experience thru hiking. Thanks for all of the info about the shoes as I am in the market for a new pair before my JMT attempt this summer.

    1. Thanks for reading Erin! Maybe I'll see you on the trail this summer!