Barriers to Quell

By March 8, 2016Hike

For those that are infected with wanderlust and for those that wish to experience life at the fringe of the grid in which we live, barriers are the great challenge – not fear.

Many would argue that barriers push us, and they would be correct in saying so. Yet when something as trivial as a pair of shoes, a day that one cannot get off of work, a measly cold or cough, or even a sock for that matter, gets in the way of us exploring the great outdoors (or even our backyards!) to the fullest , it can be unnerving or even infuriating.

When I trekked the wide and dynamic frontier of the Isle of Skye in Scotland, many barriers were foreseen and quelled. These include:

  1. Travel discombobulation. I had previously traveled in the UK, so I understood how to get from one place to another… I made tourist blunders half of the time, but I survived (Be careful who you ask directions from – some people will spit on you).
  1. Having good gear. This is imperative. I’m a backpacking gear head, so when I got caught in a famous Skye storm (60 mph winds, slippery everything, the void of foggy nothingness, foggy death), I survived.
  1. The buddy system. No loneliness occurred on my journey. I was accompanied by my friend – a bearded wildebeest.

Because I was well prepared, many barriers were taken care of. However, I still ran into more than expected… especially in the gear category. I’ve been backpacking for years now. I’ve traveled to Europe, Mexico, Canada and parts of the Appalachian Trail and Colorado.

Here’s the thing: your backpack is your life. It is your house. It is closer than any friend, girlfriend or family member. It’s literally on you and keeping you alive.

In Scotland, I had to get out my camping stove every morning and (literally) roast the inside of my shoes and my socks to dry them in the mornings from the incredulous amount of misty dew. It was the worst. I thought I was prepared. I was carrying close to a thousand dollars worth of gear, but the socks I was using were wet and soggy. To say it was bothersome is an understatement.

After walking through bog for five miles at a time almost every day for two weeks, all you want is to put on a fresh, warm, reliable pair of socks at the end of the day. I felt ridiculous with all of my beautiful gear when my feet were wet, putrid and miserable. Yes, I have the best waterproof hiking boots money can buy, but sweat and wear-and-tear is a real thing.

I just started wearing Swiftwick, and now my socks match my gear. They are durable, they don’t smell like old pizza at the end of the day, and they last! I have only one pair at this point, but I use them exclusively for every two to three day trip I take to the Smokies. They eliminate a barrier.

I wake up with warmth on my toes, and I don’t think about my feet for the rest of the hike. I can observe nature without my feet screaming at me. This is what we want isn’t it? Nature at its raw form? I think so.

Keep adventuring everyone!