The lure of the woods may be calling. The campsites, the hiking and the beautiful scenery make the hiking trails a sought after spot for many vacations. However, if a hiker doesn't take care, the feet can suffer quite a few maladies on the path along the way. The first suggestion when hiking is to try out different kinds of socks around a smaller trail at home before taking them on a long mountainous trek. Some people swear by wool socks while others feel that cotton serves them best. Try it out and see what works best. Also, try lacing the boots at different tightness levels and using different loops to lace them up. This can open up some extra toe room that way. Another pre-hike ritual is to soften up those cracked heels. Take a hint from the cows and use Bagbalm or Utterly Smooth lotions on the heels several times a day.
Rest breaks are extremely important when out hiking. However, making them productive is important too. Before grabbing that bottle of water, grab a bottle of rubbing alcohol. Prop the feet up to air them out first, then swab them with rubbing alcohol to keep the swelling down. If the current socks are wet from sweat, change them out and hang the wet socks on the backpack to dry while hiking. Another tip to help out the old dogs is to put deodorant on the bottoms of the feet to keep the sweating down.
When packing hiking bags, remember that tape is a friend. Take either duct tape or athletic tape along on the trip and if pre-disposed to blisters in certain areas, put a small tab of tape in those locations to prevent the blister before it happens. Vaseline is another good item to take along to help ward off the painful blisters many people obtain on the hiking trail. Additionally, take along a sterilized needle to pop blisters. Do the lancing near the bottom of said blister to allow for drainage, then cover with a bandage or tape strip.
The boots a hiker chooses for their hiking trip maked all the difference in the world. Try them on and use them on small trips before taking them on the big trip up in the mountains. Try on the boots in the afternoon when feet are more likely to be swollen, giving the wearer more room during non-swelling times. Plan for 1/4 to 1/2 inch of room between the toe and the end of the boot. If in doubt, go with the bigger size. Consider going for a wider shoe, not a longer one.
If the hiker takes care of their feet, their feet will take care of them. Enjoy the trip and make sure that someone outside the party knows of the exact destination trail everyone will be hiking.
Author is a freelance writer. For more information on skyland trail please visit http://www.twitter.com/skyland_trail/.