A family hike at Umstead and discussion of shoes and health

by - November 05, 2013

After visiting Umstead on Friday morning, I was determined that we would go as a family the next morning. As I was browsing Umstead's Facebook page, "Photos of my friends at William B. Umstead State Park" was at the head of the wall feed, and I saw a lovely spot. I posted a comment asking for the location, and a sister of another friend told me the trail and how far the hike would be. It's so very odd the way social media takes away a measure of happenstance from a day hike, but as a family with little boys (and one who wants to be carried still), knowing the trail ahead of time helps in the most important of decisions, such as how many snacks to pack.

Friday night it rained hard. It seems like every year, right as the leaves peak, the rain pours down and washes the canvas of trees. There was still lovely color Saturday morning as we hit the trail, but I suspect as many leaves were on the trail as in the branches. We made it down the the creek and old mill stone, ate our snacks, climbed on rocks, saw a crayfish and a water snake, and made it back to the car with fistfuls of twigs and rocks.

After this visit, I have the urge to keep hiking and maybe throw a little jogging into the mix. I actually quit doing gym classes because my toes were hurting in my shoes, and I was too cheap and too tired to go look for new shoes. Yesterday I ended up spending far too much time reading about running shoes versus trail shoes and which shoes are great for feet with high arches. After a misfire at REI, I went and had a fitting at Fleet Feet and bought a pack of socks as a "thank you for your time" since I'll never be willing to lay down full price for the latest released shoes. It turns out I've been wearing a half-size too small, I do indeed have a high arch, I don't supinate as I suspected, and my feet aren't wide after all. I learned that unless I'm planning on tearing up the trails, a running shoe would be best for wearing both on the occasional not-so-rugged hike and to the gym. I also learned that my feet sing happy songs in a pair of Brooks, and I found pair of PureConnect2 on sale at DSW. My favorite part of them is the asymmetrical lacing that takes the pressure off the top of the foot. Shoe laces almost always feel too tight to me (I blame Chacos for spoiling my feet), but the shoes I found fit like a snuggle glove with no weird spots.

Now we will see what becomes of having new shoes. I've sworn up and down I'm never going to be a runner. I really don't like to run. I joined the track team in 11th grade to force myself to like it, and I still hated it just as badly by the end of the season. However, I've never felt more exuberant than I did after a 19 mile day hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail (Wikipedia say it was 12.5 miles, but I've been claiming it was 20 miles for years, don't judge - I must have read the Metric units). I was wearing new boots (ba-a-a-aaad decision) and was with a group of folks that spread all out down the trail, so I spent several miles alone with nature and my thoughts and blisters. I was probably in high school or college when I did that hike, so I suspect I will never feel that exuberant again in my life.

After going off medication for PPD in February, I dropped 15 pounds. I'm finally back down to my college weight (the weight after the first semester of indulging in IBC Root Beer and Little Debbie Fudge Brownies), and I don't want to die too early of something that would have been entirely preventable had I just used my legs a little more. From everything I've read, a little exercise would have the same effect as a mild anti-depressant but with added benefits to health. So instead of dropping our gym membership, which I've been threatening to do for about six months now, we are headed as a family two evenings a week and hopefully will keep hiking on weekends when the weather permits.

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