Friday, June 15, 2012

From a week ago... I had put on Facebook. Cows. People here and there will know my feelings towards these creatures. In the later part of my walk yesterday around Cheddar I had to walk through a field of cows. I often pass cows only. This field was quite full of cows and calves. We are all warned about cows with calves. My venture trough this field proves that if you respect them, stand your ground, don't panic and are firm!, you will be fine! Common sense told me to walk around the outside of the field and simply try to bypass them all. Sorry, but I "own" that field and I wanted them to know it. So the only concession I made to that field of cows and calves off my normal path was 20 feet, to the right of a tree, rather than the left of it. That saved me from passing between a cow and her calf. That you do NOT do. This did not prevent a couple or three of them approaching or showing a passing interest. I kept my eye open, I was very alert and I was VERY firm! I did not talk to them, but I did give single grunt commands. This stopped every one in its tracks, before it had even moved a foot. Only one came right up to me - I could see her approach from the rear, so I stopped (I did not want her following me), stood my ground, kept Bess under control - the cow sniffed my walking pole (she had moved three feet - I say that as I passed her by three feet or so!). She stopped before me and did not move an inch (my pole was wet from her nose - I hold both poles in one hand in front of me) as I moved away with Bess. I passed through the rest of the herd and not a one moved to approach Bess and I. My advise is to walk around them, but if they approach, do NOT run and do not "talk" to them. Whilst my heart did take one extra beat, a cow sniffing your pole will do that, I had no doubts whatsoever that they would do Bess and I no harm. And they didn't, they carried on eating, we carried on walking. They were nothing more than curious. We respected each other. Simple. Why do I keep Bess on the lead? Simple, it is easier to control the situation before it gets out of hand. Cows chasing Bess across a field is getting out of hand (I say getting as I have successfully put a halt to that in the past - I know they say don't get between a herd of charging cows and your dog - but if you do and you are FIRM they stop!) anyway, like I say prevention is better than cure! I just wanted to put my thoughts here as cows get a bit of a bad press with walkers and dogs.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A little scribble about how, why and when I chose trails shoes over boots. I started walking / hiking with my then Wife (now late - cancer, but that's another story!) Sue in 2001/02. I started with Scarpa SL boots, size 44. I found them great. Comfy, totally waterproof. I suspect I’d now be a size 43. I also switched all my inners to Superfeet and these helped “reshape” my foot. IMO. I then read an article by Chris Townsend on how he preferred trail shoes, so I thought I'd give them a go. My initial trials during 2003/4 were slightly mixed, but despite cold wet feet on several occasions, esp honeymoon in the Lakes in Oct 2004, I persevered and frankly never looked back. I must admit I can’t remember what I did for the winters of 2004/05, probably boots, but it’s too long ago to remember. We didn’t walk at all in the winter of 2006, Google me or follow your nose from my Twitter profile for that that story! Let’s just say that cancer took over our lives from later 2006. I remember walking with my beloved Vasque Velocity trail runners in cool and wet weather on Dartmoor in 2005 and never once getting blisters. We walked 20 miles once and over 16+ miles regularly in those few years. We did no walking in 2007 of note. We walked a few Cheddars in 2008, maybe a dozen max, I suspect half a dozen. We had a Scotland holiday planned for October 2008, so as a tiny bit of preparation we did one medium Dartmoor walk (maybe 12 miles) late September 2008. I again wore trail shoes, no problems. We did 4 or 5 medium length walks in Scotland in Oct 2008. Probably about 12 ish miles. Again trail shoes then. It was here that we were honoured to walk with Chris. Our lives were once again overrun by cancer, Sue sadly died in August 2010 and I did not start walking again until early spring 2011, I think. Cheddar. Trail shoes of course, I started shortish walks, about 10 miles, maybe less. I had no problems, but as I picked up the distance blisters hounded me on various toes, never / seldom the same toe. It happened on Cheddar when dry feet and Dartmoor when wet feet. So there seemed little correlation to moisture. Though I think Dartmoor was worse when wet feet! As I only walked weekly it was no issue to let them heal, they seldom hurt more a pain in the neck. They pretty much stopped in the autumn of 2011. In the winter (2011) I kept the trail shoes going, but for Dartmoor I tried neoprene socks, my feet froze!, and another walk SealSkinz, my feet were chilly to say the least, but not too bad. I am yet to fully decide on footware for a really cold WET day, that is the one time where I may go for my GoreTex Montrail mid shoe. Time will tell on that! I did wear that mid waterprood “boot” around Cheddar several times in the winter, there were a few spots there that were VERY muddy and I was glad for the extra “height” of the heel / ankle cup. I actually have to admit to finding them quite comfy. But once the weather “improved” a bit, maybe Feb (?!) I switched back to trail shoes and SealSkinz and thought, yes, these are far superior! I’ll be in trail shoes now until winter when I once again have to decide…. But I really do like trail shoes. In my Dartmoor camp post on PBase I mention about putting on wet shoes and socks the next morning. If you put them in a waterproof bag in the morning for a few hours, or an hour (or the night before if freezing – I guess!) in the sleeping bag they are actually not so bad to put on in the morning. Of course my feet were wet when I got to camp, but I dried them, and put on dry socks for the night. Plastic bags served to keep them dry for a “pit stop” at night. Apart from one blister this spring (???!!!) I have not had any, touch wood. I do use Body Glide on my toes, more for peace of mind I think. I put it down to jessy feet. They had not had serious walking for several years. It may have been my shoes, but the blisters happened in my Vasques as well (as my Montrails) that in years gone by, there were none! So I don’t really know, maybe the shoes, but feet seem ok now in my Montrails. Trail shoes, on we go. Another thing that I have experimented with are Smartwool liner socks, these also work well in trail shoes, worn alone. I should add, I like the “mesh” sided ones, water gets in easily, but equally, it gets out easily. Anyway, hope that helps fill in my trail shoes story. Now bugger off and read something more entertaining ;-)