We have been planning on going on the trek for about 6 months, we (my husband and I) were called to be a Ma and a Pa. We do this with the youth of our church and we have done it every 4 years for the last 12 years. This is actually our 6th trek so I thought I probably have enough experience to give some of you that are thinking about going on a long hike or trek , some tips. I have very sensitive feet and I usually end up with blisters. On these treks, we travel about 35 miles in 3-4 days, not just hiking but pushing and pulling a handcart. So you can imagine what my feet look like at the end of the 4th day. This year my goal was not to get any blisters and I decided that it must be the shoes that were causing the blisters. I have worn smart wool socks with liners for most of the treks, and they help a lot but I have blisters at the end. I went through about 6 pairs of shoes this year and found the pair that was perfect for my feet. The La Sportiva brand was great and they are very comfortable. I have walked or ran about 15-20 miles a week to get my feet ready.
My brother in law runs a lot of marathons and when I say a lot that means, 50 in the last 6 years. I went to him for advice for blister prevention and he told me about these Compeed blister patches that you put on your foot where you are most susceptible to blisters. The picture above is at the end of the trek with the blister patch still in place, if you don't get your feet too wet they will stay on for 2-3 days.
I had 3 of the patches with me and on the 2nd day we went through a river crossing and I lost the 2 that I had on the bottom of my foot in the river. The next day I used the last patch on my left foot and a blistapatch on the right foot. The picture above is of my right foot that did not have the Compeed patch on, yep, there is the blister starting. I did have some moleskin and tape and I used that for the remainder of the trek on this foot, and it didn't get any bigger than this.
This is a picture of 4 years ago when I had 2 of these on each foot, yes it was painful. So, I feel I did accomplish my goal of no blisters, and if I would have had some more Compeed blister patches I would have totally succeeded. ( I am not making an advertisement for Compeed but they did work!)
Here we are near the beginning of our trek, the girls were in the front and the boys were pushing.
Going down hills you need someone to help put on the brakes. We carried our belongings in a 5 gallon bucket and used these to sit on as well. I needed to get a bucket with a screw on lid though because mine was always so hard to get the lid off.
Here is the day we were going through the river.
We did take off our shoes and socks, it is not pleasant to walk in wet shoes. Dry off your feet well before putting them back on. This was the day that I lost the blister patches in the river.
Your clothes got a little wet, but in the wind and the heat they dried quickly.
We made it to the other side.
This was the day that the women pulled up a long hill, it definitely made us appreciate the men who were helping us while on the trek.
We were a little out of breath but all of that hill climbing before the trek, definitely paid off.
On the last day we were able to experience what the handcart pioneers had to eat. In the history of the Willey Martin handcart company, they left late in the season and had to cross the plains with not a lot of food. Near the end they got to the point that their rations for the day was just 4 ounces of flour. Our lunches for that day consisted of just 4 ounces of flour. With a little water, you can make kind of a gruel, but by the 5th or 6th bite it was hard to stomach down. We did have plenty of water, it is so important that you drink, drink, drink!
We came to a bog and it was pretty muddy, hubby decided to leave on his socks but he did have a clean pair to change into. Oh, the joys of "oxi clean" when we got home and washed this pair.
One last tip, make sure you have a very high SPF for your lips. I had some chap stick with some in it but it wasn't strong enough, by the end I felt like I had bot-ox lip fillers, my bottom lip was huge and is still quite painful. Of course wear long sleeves and a hat for the ultimate SPF coverage. My face didn't get much sun but my lips needed some more coverage. Hope this helps someone going on a hike or trek this summer.
It was so much more enjoyable when I didn't have painful blisters to worry about.