“I was beginning to appreciate that the central feature of life on the Appalachian Trail is deprivation, that the whole point of the experience is to remove yourself so thoroughly from the conveniences of everyday life that the most ordinary things—processed cheese, a can of pop gorgeously beaded with condensation—fill you with wonder and gratitude.”
― Bill Bryson,
Why hike nearly 2200 miles? Why spend days upon days on end in the woods living off of only the items that you can carry on your back?
The core reasons for hiking the Appalachian Trail are as varied as the people who hike it, but whatever the reason, there is no doubt that one of the central themes to any long-distance trek is the removal from everyday creature comforts that Bill Bryson so eloquently describes.
On the trail, comfort usually comes in small doses and sometimes unexpected ways. Some find it in a surprise bowl of still-warm cookies left just minutes before at a shelter by a friendly local. Or it may take the form of a favorite book carried from home. Or a lucky walking stick.
Or a great pair of sandals strapped to your pack that you can slip into every night after you yank off your soggy, muddy hiking boots.
As you may imagine, the most important item in any long-distance hiker’s arsenal is probably their footwear. Ill-fitting hiking boots can turn your feet into hamburger and have forced many hikers off the trail prematurely. Comfortable, supportive, well-fitting hiking footwear can help better connect you with the trail, improve your stamina, and increase your enjoyment of the hike immensely. Many experienced long-distance trekkers will tell you that the best hiking footwear is the kind you forget is even there.
You may imagine our pleasant surprise, then, when section-hiker Mark M. turned up in our Largo store recently to buy a present for his wife. Mark told us that his wife, Linda, had been wearing Kenkoh Massage Sandals for 15 years and that she had turned him on to Kenkohs a few years before.
Mark went on to share that he likes his Kenkohs so much and finds them so comfortable he hikes the Appalachian Trail in them. Let’s break this down a bit…Just to be clear, Mark doesn’t just strap Kenkohs to his pack to use them as nighttime camp sandals. He hikes in them.
As Mark told us, “I’ve tried other expensive boots, shoes and specialty footwear but Kenkoh sandals are the only thing that can get me up and down those mountains comfortably. We have great stories of meeting people on the trail who are amazed to see my Kenkoh flip flops!”
While we don’t necessarily recommend Kenkohs for long-distance hiking, we’re thrilled to see that Mark has had a comfortable and successful time on the trail with his!
No matter how much long-distance hikers seek to escape everyday creature comforts, everyone needs some now and then, and on the trail the most obvious comfort starts where our body meets the Earth.
By pushing on through their removal, escape, and self-imposed deprivation, long-distance hikers can also find a few other things:
Best of luck, Mark and Linda. Thanks for sharing your story with us. We’ll see you down the trail.