Since the snow is now melting down here off the mountain (although a foot is predicted tonight on mountain, and I have the day off tomorrow) I have begun to again pursue finding new and exciting hikes. There are miles of trails around Park City, of which so far I have explored one that is only about a mile from my house. One nice part of hiking in Park City is that almost any hike goes up. Very important as the views change every switchback, something that amazes me every time I go around a turn. I started my hike with bread, cheese and water in backpack, new boots on my feet. I was about two miles up the path, and near the summit of a small bluff, when I first noticed the hot spot on my heel. PERFECT! My boots had not yet been broken in; a problem that I chose to ignore when starting my hike. The blisters gained from new hiking boots are much different than those that are kindly gifted by wearing ski boots all day, every day.
So at the top of the hill I sat down, looked across the valley at the mountains, ate some cheese and bread, and then started my trip back down to the car, boots and socks now in hand. As discussed from a previous hike in Maine, I actually really like hiking without shoes. There is a connection that one feels to what one is actually doing, especially when sharp rocks reach the bottom of your foot, or you feel the cold of a large boulder, dampness of moss, or squish of mud. While there is always the danger of being hurt worse than a blister (and a cut on the bottom of ones foot is not a fun way to live life) the trade off of connection is far more important.
While on a hike in Maine I really noticed this physical connection; on my barefoot hike down the switchbacks in Park City, I realized a different type of sensation. While hiking barefooted it is almost impossible to constantly look up at ones large surroundings, as it is important to examine each step to avoid those pesky sharp pebbles. Seeing the majesty of mountains, oceans, stars and grand scenery is very beneficial to our lives, as it often reminds us of our place in the world; fleeting.
However, it is also important to focus on each small step. Each of us has their own path to follow, and hiking barefoot forces us to focus on these small, seemingly insignificant steps; each of which leads us further down the path on which we tread. Once in a while we must look up, and see all around us that is vast, to remember that we are hiking the path to discover that vastness, but one step at a time.