I Need Vegan Shoes

Day 107: Zero

We had our second zero day in Harper’s Ferry. It was another hot day, so we were happy to get another day to rest. We had a lazy morning at the hostel, then wandered down to the ATC with our packs. My parents and grandparents were going to visit us later in the day on their way to visit my brother on the east coast. We planned to take our halfway picture after they got there.

We wandered down to the historical area of Harper’s Ferry. After finding some pineapple sorbet, we wondered around the older buildings escaping the heat and waiting for the family.

After the family arrived, we went into the ATC and got our picture taken. We looked in the book and found my dad’s picture. He was 763, we were 1,330 and 1,331. My dad had gotten off trail for a few weeks because of some tendinitis but was planning to return in a few days. It was fun being able to experience the ATC with him even though he had already been through a few weeks prior.

Yes, Erik’s eyes are closed. They didn’t tell us before printing the picture. Oh well.

Day 108: 2,790 ft ascent, 17.1 miles

After a night at a hotel, my dad dropped us off in Harper’s Ferry to walk across the Potomac into Maryland. We said our goodbyes and we were off.

I had decided to switch from my Hoka Speedgoat trail running shoes to a more durable boot for the upcoming rocky section of the trail. I decided to go with the Oboz Bridger boot. It felt good in the store and Erik really liked his men’s version of the boot.

Old canal path was the easiest walking of the trail!

My favorite thing about Maryland? Restrooms right on the trail every few miles!

As we started walking, my feet started hurting more and more throughout the day. At first I thought it was just trying to get used to new shoes, but as the day went on my legs started swelling. By late afternoon, there was a defined dent in the side of my leg where my legs were swelling around my boot. It took all I had to walk into camp. I immediately took off the boots and elevated my legs.

I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know why my legs and feet hurt so badly. Erik had to help me walk to the tent. I took off my socks and noticed I had welts from the top of my sock line to my toes. That’s when we figured it out: I was having an allergic reaction to the boots! Did you know you can filter for Vegan boots on REI’s website? I didn’t either, but from now on that will be me.

I quickly took some Benadryl and rubbed Benadryl cream on the welts. I had a similar issue last fall with Merrill Moab boots before I switched to trail runners. Thanks to Dr. Google, I think I might have an allergy to the salts used to tan leather boots.

I didn’t know what we were going to do. I was going to need new shoes and I didn’t know how long it would take for the swelling in my legs and feet to go down. We went to sleep hoping things would look more positive in the morning.

Day 109: 1,820 ft ascent, 9.2 miles

The Original Washington Monument

The swelling and welts were mostly gone in the morning! I would be able to hike, but it still left the question of what I would have on my feet when we left camp. I decided to try hiking in my crocs. I carry the weight of crocs for this reason, might as well use them!

We took off and things did not go well. The pain in my feet I had from the Roller Coaster earlier in the week quickly came back as we crossed some rock fields. We came to a park and stopped so I could make breakfast and we could figure out a plan.

The closest outfitter was 14 miles away. Uber would be $30 each way. I couldn’t keep hiking in the crocs. It was a Saturday. On a whim I reached out to my friend Katie who lives in DC to see if she would happen to be bored and willing to do me a favor on a Saturday. As luck would have it, she was available to help! Katie to the rescue!

I called an REI near her and got my trusty trail runners put on hold under my name. If Katie was going to drive an hour each way, I was going to get shoes that I knew I could walk in. We walked a few more miles to meet her in the Annapolis Rocks parking lot. I put on a double pair of socks with the boots to make it there. I figured in a few hours the swelling couldn’t get unbearable.

We hadn’t expected to see Katie again anytime soon after meeting up in Shenandoah but here we were! I was so happy to get back in shoes I knew wouldn’t cause more pain anytime soon. It also didn’t put us too far behind our planned mileage, which was a relief. What a fiasco turned into a near-perfect solution!

Erik and I were so excited to have a solution that we decided to splurge and door dash ourselves some lunch. There aren’t many places on the trail to take advantage of door dash, but we happened to be at one of them. We got ourselves some Chipotle and popsicles delivered to the parking lot. We devoured that 12 pack of popsicles faster than a gaggle of kids could’ve done. Crisis averted, we headed on down the trail to get back to enjoying what Maryland had to offer.

Crossing I-70

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Comments 4

  • thetentman : Aug 2nd

    Well since I saw you at the Bellvale Creamery, I know you are going to solve this. Good luck. Nice post.

  • Geezer : Aug 2nd

    Back in the old days before synthetics were invented, the fastest way to break in a new pair of leather boots was to stand in a puddle until the leather was soaked through and then walk them dry. It wasn’t much fun but when you were done the boots fit like you”d been wearing them for years. I don’t know if this works with synthetic boots but it might be worth a try.

  • Ann : Aug 8th

    I can’t believe you are in Maryland and that you fricking walked there!!!

  • Dawn : Aug 9th

    So glad you got the shoe situation figured out! Only you would find that out while hiking the AT! 🙁


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