Becoming Sandals, Day 6

Hiking between 10 to 20 miles a day is never that easy, but when the entire bottoms of your feet are covered in blisters it gets really rough.

Laina calls it her “feet disaster.”

Laina walked a couple hundred miles in the sandals she scrapped together combining her dad's flip-flops and backpack strap, earning the trail name "Sandals."
Laina walked a couple hundred miles in the sandals she scrapped together combining her dad’s flip-flops and backpack strap, earning the trail name “Sandals.”

It started on day four in the Cleveland National Forest, somewhere between mile 43 and mile 64, when the trail went straight down for miles.

Laina was wearing running shoes.

“I could feel my toes getting slammed against my shoes, I knew I was getting really bad blisters but didn’t know what to do about them so we just kept going.”

She admits complete disregard of her knowledge that you should always stop as soon as you start feeling blisters.

By the time the pain finally forced her to stop the bottoms of her feet and between her toes were swollen with blisters. She took off her shoes but she couldn’t walk barefoot because of the pressure on the bottoms of her feet. She couldn’t wear her flip-flops because of the blisters between her toes.

And, of course, it wasn’t as if they could stop and wait for blisters to heal, she said.

“So we made these hilarious looking homemade sandals out of dad’s flip-flops and extra strapping from our backpacks,” she said.

They used Sheom’s flip-flops because they had leather (rather than plastic, like Laina’s) straps, which could be cut off and adjusted. They then used the pack strapping and made a strap across the top of her foot.

Laina encountered a nurse who was also hiking. He drained her blisters for her, puncturing them with a curved needle, putting a tread trough them and leaving the tread under her skin so that the blisters would continue to drain and the pressure would not build up.

“Those sandals were my saving grace, I called them my Jesus sandals because I loved them so much.”

In contrast “of course dad didn’t have any problems with his feet,” Laina said, indignant.

Sometimes he alternates between flip-flops and tennis shoes but he goes barefoot most of the time, she said.

And that is how the pair got their “trail names.”

There is a tradition on the PCT of adopting trail names. Trail names are given to you by someone else on the trail, you can’t pick your own, so you have to take what you are given. People become known to other hikers by their trail names.

Two young men Laina and Sheom met, and sometimes hiked with along the way, gave Sheom the name “Bare paws.”

“Because he’s barefoot, and because he’s a “Pa.”

They named Laina “Sandals.”

The names fit because it is the first thing people notice when they meet the pair, there’s not many people out there hiking barefoot or in Sandals.




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