How does a hiker deal with foot injury, especially Plantar Fasciitis while on a long distance hike? However she can. At least that’s what I did. Here’s my story:
In 2014, about 8 months before I embarked on an Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike with my husband, I went to the podiatrist for a foot check-up. The results were dispiriting—I had a bunion and was missing a bone in my big toe, both on the same foot. The doctor wanted to operate on the bunion and put a metal plate in my toe. I politely declined—I’d walked fine for 47 years, why would I want to have surgery now? I returned to my training with my husband, Fred, and put my foot problems out of my mind.
I’ll be honest and put my disclaimer here for everyone to read: I’d worn Oboz since 2009 and had never been disappointed, but at the last minute I changed brands. I know, I know … BIG mistake.
Appalachian Trail Bound
We departed for Springer this past February, a few days after Winter Storm Pax blanketed the south. My boots (not Oboz) kept my feet dry and warm in the foot of snow, and I was happy. But, with each passing day I noticed that around the seven-mile mark, my toes would start to burn and the pain in my arch increased. I found myself trying to walk and stretch my foot at the same time for days.
By the time we arrived at the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), a well-known base camp for day hikes at mile 137.3,the pain in my foot was becoming unbearable, so I broke down and bought some after market insoles, which only increased the pain further.
It got worse. By the time I arrived at Fontana Dam (mile 164.6) I was in so much pain that had there been a way out of town, I would have gladly crawled to the departure point. We took the next day off, giving my foot a break, and when we set out for the much-anticipated Smoky Mountains my foot felt great, for seven or eight miles anyway. Then the pain took hold and off came the boots and out came my camp shoes. They did the trick until I could get to Gatlinburg, where I immediately went to the outfitter in search of my beloved Oboz.
A Tough Choice
With new shoes and a few days rest we headed back to the trail and two miles short of the shelter, under the bluest of skies I stopped in my tracks and made one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made. I QUIT! Too much damage had been done to my foot to continue hiking to Maine. I sobbed all the way down the mountain and back to Gatlinburg.
In town I soaked my injured foot in Epson Salt, elevated it, iced it—you name it, I did it. Nothing worked. I headed home and sent my husband on without me.
Finding the Right Shoe
All the time I was hiking, I blamed my bunion and big toe for the pain. Maybe the constant walking was causing my foot to be out of “alignment”, and that was causing the arch pain. But when I found myself sitting in front of my Podiatrist she told me that I had developed Plantar Fasciitis. Dr. Taylor then looked at my boots and told me to chuck them. I would have to do all future hikes in seamless shoes due to my bunion and preferably trail runners.
Enter the Oboz Emerald Peak, Oboz’s lightweight, new low hiker for women. When my pair arrived, I couldn’t get them on fast enough. I’ve worn them every day since, and they are fantastic. While I work out the last of my Plantar Fasciitis, my new shoes are giving me the support I need and the comfort I desire.
I can’t wait to hit the trail again, where I’m sure my Oboz and I will make it to Maine.