Since the release of my new humorous Mt. Hope Southern Adventures series, I thought you'd enjoy meeting a real adventurer. Someone who dared to dream. Someone who donned a different pair of shoes and set out on the adventure of a lifetime.
I've known retired Air Force Colonel Steve Johnson for years. His adventurous spirit has taken him all over the world. Successful in everything he tries, Steve can now add successfully hiking the difficult Appalachian Trial to his resume. Steve has authored a book (I'll give you the details at the end of our interview). Today, we're talking about the importance of choosing the right shoe for your journey. Come along with this funny guy. Who knows, you may even be encouraged to walk toward your dreams.
LG: Glad to have you with us, Steve. You recently completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine. That’s quite an achievement. How many miles was that?
Fob: 2189.1 miles…through 14 states.
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.
LG: And the extra toe gave him an advantage over you?
Fob: It couldn’t have been that he was half my age, two-thirds my weight, and was in better condition. So it must have been the extra toe.
LG: Makes sense. I look forward to reading about your AT journey in your upcoming book. Thanks for joining me today.
Fob: Thanks, Lynne. Some day we should co-write a book and send your heroine on a long hike in her red, high-heeled shoes.
LG: I’m not sure she could do that.
Fob: She could if you write her in a couple extra toes!
AUTHOR STEVE JOHNSON
After turning 50, Steve Johnson decided to embark on an incredible, life-changing adventure. Leaving family and friends behind, he chose to thru-hike the rugged 2189.1-mile Appalachian Trail. In this first of two volumes, Steve, "Sir Fob W. Pot," invites readers to lace up their hiking boots and join him on the journey of a lifetime, from Georgia to Maine, traveling five million steps across fourteen states. Filled with belly-aching laughs, heart-wrenching struggles, practical life lessons, and AT hiking strategies, Fob's hike is a compelling story about humanity and wilderness survival.
What kind of shoes do you need to take that first step toward your dream?