Camino de Santiago, Camino Gear

Becoming a “Shoe Girl”

March 12, 2014
Boots on rack in front of a window with view of green mountains
The Long Walk Test:
“Next, wear them around and see how they feel. I would recommend that you perform a ‘long walk’ inside your home, or even better, inside a local shopping mall to see how they feel after a little distance. Wearing them while lounging at home will not give them the proper test. Put a little ‘indoor distance’ on the boot. If they still feel good, you’ve found a reasonably good boot for your foot. If they don’t feel good, resist the temptation to keep them – take them back and keep looking.”  ~The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club
If anyone had suggested six months ago that one day I would spend hours thinking about, talking about, and even writing about footwear, I would have laughed out loud. I’ve never been much of a “shoe girl”.
While for years I’ve enjoyed watching episodes of the HBO comedy, “Sex in the City,” the one aspect of the show I’ve never related to was the characters’ mighty obsession with shoes, particularly extremely expensive shoes. Gazing rapturously into the windows of shoe stores full of Blahniks or Manuelos or whatever-they’re-called just never resonated with me.
My well-worn, much-loved Durangos
Sure, I appreciate an attractive pair of shoes (especially on someone else). I even dumped my basic beige “Arizona” Birkenstocks in my late twenties (although I must admit, recently I’ve been considering getting a pair of “Gizeh” Birks) and I’ve resisted buying the Crocs clogs that are so popular where I live. But the footwear I spend most of my time in is basic and comfortable, my favorite being my Durango boots, which are about half a size too large; loose and comfy, just the way I like them. Every once in awhile I don a pair of slightly high heeled sling-backs, my go-to dress up shoes that I bought at Payless Shoe Source years ago, and from time-to-time, my black high-heeled boots get some use. But more often than not, you can find me wearing boots with a standard medium heel “1 1/2-inches in height with a wide flat bottom for good balance,” or sandals.
Then enter my Camino preparation. The opinions about footwear run the gamut. Some claim one must wear high-collared hiking boots that are a size and a half large. Some say double socks, others say fingered socks, wicking socks, or wool socks. There are those who declare that sandals like Tevas are the way to go and even some who’ve walked the entire route barefoot! The one thing that everyone definitely agrees upon, however, is that whatever your footwear, it must be comfortable and you must be certain long before leaving and through extensive experience that it is comfortable.
The enduring Asics
That having been said, I am leaning toward wearing my Asics running shoes (or a new pair just like them). They have never given me blisters. I have run through all kinds of terrain in them (used to be a trail runner). I have hiked over 12 miles in them in a day and many times that over multiple days. They’re not perfect. My achilles frequently hurts at the end of the day and/or the morning after a long hike. My right toe joint with the arthritis is usually achey at the end of a long hike. But without fail, I am able to put them on and start walking again.
The jury is still out, however, as I am spending time in the elephant/pink Merrell Siren Sport 2 shoes I purchased a couple of weeks ago. (I’m conducting indoor trials so far…wearing them all day, every day inside my fourth grade classroom.)
Who knew that I would one day become a shoe girl….
Note: I did finally find the “right shoes“…
Birthday card from Dad after he found out I will be walking the Camino this summer. Too cute!

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