LG: I know you spent a lot of time deciding on hiking gear and clothes. But, as you might expect, I’m especially interested in your WALKING SHOES.
Fob: We call them hiking shoes.
LG: What’s the difference?
Fob: Well, most 2-year-olds can walk. But to hike this trail, you need to be crazy.
LG: Explains a lot about you. How important is having the right shoe?
Fob: It’s critical. You’ve heard the expression, “where the rubber meets the road”. Well, on the AT, the “rubber meets the trail” with each of the roughly 5 million steps you take. You want a shoe that is comfortable and keeps everything in place.
LG: Like a bra?
Fob: Let’s not go there.
LG: So did you have any foot problems?
Fob: Plenty. My feet suffered from blisters, bruises, blisters on bruises, intense pain, and numbness. In fact, it’s been 5 months since I finished the trail, and I still can’t feel the 10% of my feet that run along my toes. But I shouldn’t complain. Some hikers had it much worse.
LG: How so?
Fob: I know of several who quit the trail due to foot issues. The constant pounding had reduced their feet to hamburger meat. In some cases, they hiked too many miles too soon. Some chose the wrong…what do you call them...“walking shoes”. And then there was the hiker with the trail name Two Soles.
LG: Two souls? Was he possessed?
Fob: No, two soles. After several days of intense foot pain, he got off the trail and went to see the shoe and foot guy at an outfitter. The foot guy checked his sorry looking feet and said he needed a new pair of insoles. Two Soles agreed, but after hiking in them the next day, he was in even more pain. His buddy took a closer look and discovered he had put the new insoles on top of the old ones…and the combined pair was restricting movement and crushing his feet. He didn’t quit the trail, but he did earn the trail name Two Soles.
LG: Who had the most unusual shoes or feet?
Fob: I know of a few hikers who hiked almost the entire trail in their bare feet … really crazy. I also saw hikers in boots, trail runners, Chacos, and Five Finger toe shoes. And then there was ET.
LG: ET? You hiked with an extra-terrestrial?
Fob: Not exactly. You won’t meet him till my second book, but ET and I met and hiked together in Pennsylvania. Super nice guy and a FAST hiker.
LG: So was that due to his shoes?
Fob: No, he has an extra toe!
LG: No way!
Fob: Yes, way. He was born with 11 toes. Thus, his trail name…ET…for Extra Toe. He let me take a picture of them. They were cool in a way, but a bit creepy. Like when your mom gets her first tattoo.