Archive for the ‘Recreation’ Category

The Origin of the Panyee Football Club

March 21, 2011

Here’s a nice little short film about the origin of the Panyee (Thailand) Football Club:

You probably will want to view it full-screen to be able to read the subtitles.

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Showing the Flag

January 3, 2011

On New Year’s Day, one of our local parks had a New Year’s Day hike. Aside from the fact that these are always fun hikes, they can also serve another function: letting other people see just how functional bare feet are.

Most people don’t even consider the possibility that we can hike barefoot for any distance. When any of us go on one of these hikes, we can be ambassadors for barefooting.

Saturday was part of our welcome relief from the sub-freezing weather we’ve been having around here. The weather was perfect for barefoot hiking: around 45° (7C) and rainy. When we started out the hike, the ranger even mentioned to folks that they would be getting wet feet, not just me. I couldn’t help adding, “But mine will dry immediately.”

I’ve been doing enough of these hikes that the regulars recognize me. One even mentioned to me that she’d seen me on TV as part of the Statehouse story.

Another interesting thing that happens on these hikes illustrates how barefootedness is starting to break into the public consciousness. I had a few people mention to me and ask me about Christopher McDougal’s book, Born to Run. I had a few people ask be about Vibram Five Fingers; I answered them much the way I did in this blog entry.

All in all, a great hike, and a great ambassadorship.

Airplane Rock

December 31, 2010

You may have noticed that I’ve changed the banner photo to better reflect the season here in central Ohio.

I hiked out to Airplane Rock in Hocking Hills just to do so. Of course, as you can see, I rather screwed it up. You’d think that, after seeing the banner so many times I would remember what it looked like. You’d think that, since I took the original picture, I would remember where I had originally stood. You’d think that, before I left I’d carefully check the original to make sure. Well, you’d be wrong. And so was I!

Here’s the original, so you can compare:

Original Banner

Airplane Rock is one of the mostly hidden, but utterly cool, places in Hocking Hills. Most folks don’t know about it. It was called Airplane Rock by the original Amerindians who lived here, and you can see why from this picture taken from the side:

Airplane Rock

I made a special hike up there yesterday just to get the new banner. After a spate of really cold weather, we had a warm spell, with rain yesterday morning ahead of a warm front, and it made it up to about 45° today (7C). So, I was ready to be out and about. Obviously, there was still snow on the ground, but it had melted enough that the trails were a mix of wet mud and snow. My feet got colder in the snow and then warmed up in the wet mud. But it was pretty comfortable throughout. I was hoping there’d still be a few snow patches on Airplane Rock (just for the picture), and I got lucky.

After the photo shoot (Yay! I’m a model!), I headed down into the adjacent Long Hollow and hiked right to the tip, where there is a 100 foot waterfall. This time of year Hocking Hills gets really beautiful (as you saw in my hike to Cedar Falls). The water dripping from above freezes, and the water that makes it to the bottom freezes into a mound. They are ice stalagmites and stalactites. Here is what the waterfall at Long Hollow looked like:

Long Hollow Falls

My total hike was about 4 miles in 2 hours, and was the usual fun.

I’d also like to address a comment that appeared in an earlier entry, talking about natural versus unnatural surfaces (related to whether our feet could handle such things as concrete). I don’t think it matters whether the surface is natural or unnatural—our feet cannot tell the difference. It is only the hardness or compressibility of the surface that might matter. As you can see from the photos, there is a lot of sandstone at Hocking Hills, just as there is a lot of places throughout the world where people go barefoot (including our evolutionary homeland, Africa). Of course our feet have evolved to deal with it. Here is another photo, from earlier this fall, at Conkle’s Hollow, that shows the sandstone better:

Conkle's Hollow, looking north

(This is actually the background on my monitor at the moment.)

Bare feet can handle all this stuff just fine.

[PS. I am of course joking about Amerindians naming Airplane Rock. I don’t doubt they instead called it something like Turkey Rock, or maybe Turtle Rock.]

[PPS. New camera for Christmas! Yay again!]

Freaking People Out

December 12, 2010

Here in the Columbus area, the past week has been pretty cold, with highs in the low to mid-20s. Yesterday we had a break, with it going up to around 45. I took advantage of the weather to break out of some cabin fever, and I headed down to Hocking Hills for a bit of a hike.

It’s really pretty this time of year, with really large icicles hanging down at the waterfalls and wherever else water drips (a lot of places). There was about a ¼ of an inch of snow on the ground, but that really didn’t concern me.

Barefoot hiking, just by itself, is a lot of fun. All the textures and the opportunity to feel all the foot parts working in harmony is quite nice. But I have to admit that today was fun for another reason: freaking people out.

The temperature when I started was about 35°; I found it pretty comfortable. There were both snowy areas and areas that had been cleared by other people’s footsteps. The route I started out with did not have too many people, and the few I passed did not even seem to notice the state of my feet. The first folks I met were up along Rose Lake; it appeared to be a Boy Scout Troop with leaders. The leader did notice me, and had nothing but words of admiration. I kind of gave him the standard “CIVD” spiel, which he really got. In the end, though, I finished with one of my standard lines: “It looks more impressive than it really is.” And that is true; I was just walking along quite comfortably.

My next real encounter with people was quite a bit later, after I had turned around at a fire tower, and returned to Cedar Falls. There, I talked to the leader of a different Boy Scout Troop (this time I asked). We ended up talking for about 10 minutes before he even noticed my lack of footwear (the boys all assured him that they had noticed immediately). Again, I had a chance to educate a bit.

And here you can see me at Cedar Falls (you can see that much of the waterfall pool was frozen over from the previous week of cold weather):

An Icy Cedar Falls

Farther down I talked to another group. One of the members of the group was more interested just in the fact that I was hiking barefoot (as opposed to temperature), and there I gave another of my standard lines:

We go into the woods to see the sights, smell the smells, and hear the sounds, and then we turn off our sense of touch.

He actually sounded like he might like to try it some time (maybe warmer weather, though). Yay!

At another location on my way back, a woman noticed me and suddenly said, “You’re barefoot!” “Well, yes. Yes I am.” And then she caught me speechless, saying, “That looks comfortable.” “Well, yes. Yes it is.”

Overall, I was out about 3 hours (including the time stopped to talk to people), and I hiked a bit over 7½ miles.

Oh, and I also had a bit of fun imagining freaking out some other people, those who hadn’t actually seen me. This is how:

Snow Print

Don’t Stop Now

November 3, 2010

As winter approaches, it is so tempting for the new barefooter to think, “Oh, it’s gotten way too cold to go barefoot any more.” My message to you is

“Don’t Stop Now.”

Yesterday I wrote about the hike I did. The temperatures ranged from about 45° when I started to about 53° when I ended (that’s 7° and 12° for non-usans). My feet were perfectly comfortable the whole time.

Now is a very good time to start acclimating your feet to cooler temperatures. Believe me when I tell you that they will respond. Not only that, but a fall hike is probably one of the best ways to start to get them used to colder temperatures. First of all, while the air temperature may be cooler, the ground itself is still quite warm, so you won’t be overstressing your bare feet. Secondly, when you are hiking, all the muscles and tendons and ligaments in your feet will be helping to pump plenty of warm blood down there. And finally, exposing your feet to the slightly cooler temperatures will slowly accustom them to those temperatures, and you will very quickly discover that you can go out barefooted and comfortable in temperatures you never dreamed possible.

A Nice Fall Hike

November 2, 2010

I do a lot of hiking, and today was just so gorgeous . . .

I ended up going to Hocking Hills, and decided to do a bit of bushwacking around. If you are not familiar with the area, there a a bunch of really nice sandstone cliffs, make up of what is called “Blackhand Sandstone.” This sandstone is well-cemented near the top, and well-cemented about 100 feet lower down, but the stuff in the middle is rather crumbly. So a lot of what are called “recess caves” are formed, and they are the main feature of Hocking Hills. I started out parking at Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve and walked along the west rim to get to where I was headed: Burgoon Hollow. I bushwacked down into the Hollow, taking pictures of just what the formations were (I’d never been there before).

The cool thing about doing it barefooted (aside from all the usual benefits) is when one has to climb back out. That’s were toes come in extremely handily. The hollow walls are pretty step, and toes are just perfect for grabbing into the soil for a very good grip.

Here is one of the recess caves in Burgoon Hollow (on its west side). I went by it as I was climbing out of the hollow:

Lower Cave

Lower Cave in Burgoon Hollow

(You’ll easily see that I stitched together two photos I took. I need better software.)

Farther up the slope (up to the right there) there was yet another small recess cave:

Upper Cave

Upper Cave in Burgoon Hollow

Really, really fun.

I then hiked around a bit more, and ended up back at Conkles Hollow, where this time I took the trail on the east rim. Here is what things looked like today looking south towards the entrance to Conkles Hollow:

Conkles Hollow

Conkles Hollow

Just goes to show: bare feet are just fine for all sorts of hiking.

Fall Hikes

October 16, 2010

This is the time of year when many park districts and State Park system put on organized hikes to view the fall foliage. If you like barefoot hiking, these are wonderful opportunities not only to do a very nice hike, but also to be a bit of an ambassador of bare feet. Just showing other people that it is possible to do these hikes can help open up some minds.

I did two such hikes last weekend; the group size was around 30 people. Today I did another one, with a groups size of around 100 people. Many folks didn’t say much, but nonetheless quite a few were bold enough to ask questions, and I was able to give them a feel for the experience. There were two lines in particular that I used a fair bit, and they seemed to be able to relate to them.

The first one was

Just like any other part of the body, when you use them, the feet strengthen up.

The second one was

We go into the woods to see the sights, hear the sounds, and smell the smells, and then we turn off our sense of touch.

And from there I could talk about the joy of moss or pine needles or hemlock needles or fallen leaves. They got it.

Things were a bit different this year than last year. Quite a few folks knew about barefoot running, so I didn’t seem quite as odd as I have in years past). Many of them had heard about or actually read Born to Run. I even talked to one guy who was going to run in the Columbus Marathon tomorrow who said he did a bit of barefoot training. There were also quite a few people who had seen Dual Survivor, so they were up on the idea of hiking barefoot. I had nice discussions with them about it.

One other thing that always happens on these hikes: there are inevitably some older folks (well, older than me, but these days that is harder and harder to do) who will tell me that, as a kid, their shoes came off the last day of school and stayed off until the first day of school in the fall. They ran around barefoot all summer long and didn’t have any problems. But then they’d say, “But I could never do that now.” Why not? Just like any other part of the body, when you use them, the feet strengthen up. Even if you are older.

Dave Canterbury’s Assumptions

August 31, 2010

The Discovery Channel is rerunning the Dual Survivor series with Dave Canterbury and the barefoot Cody Lundin. In this viewing, I’m noticing more the assumptions that are being made about Cody’s bare feet. I do a lot of hiking in various situations, barefoot of course, and these assumptions just don’t ring true. They are the typical reactions of the shod who really have never tried these sorts of barefoot feats. It may also be the case that the producers (and editors) of the show are playing up the whole barefoot thing to make it seem more difficult (and thereby “show-worthy”) than it really is.

In “After the Storm,” they are descending a bunch of fairly sharp rocks. Dave expresses his concern about them, while Cody does his usual careful stepping on them. In fact, Dave makes the comment about how sharp the rocks are and how getting cut from them could be very dangerous. The first thing to note is that, because he is barefoot, Cody descends much more cautiously. As he puts his foot on each new footing, he is getting a bunch of sensory feedback from his soles that tell him exactly how good his footing is. And that proves to make a difference—the one who slides down the hill is Dave, who not only risks a sprained ankle, but manages to cut himself on an agave (admittedly on his arm, but that could be just as dangerous). Yet, the focus is on the danger of a cut on Cody’s bare feet.

But the other comment from Dave is about how the rocks are sharp, which could lead to a cut, which could lead to an infection.

Around where I live we have Flint Ridge, which was used by the Indians from time immemorial. They actually mined the stuff there.

I’ve hiked Flint Ridge many, many times, barefoot. That’s right, I have hiked walking on flint. No problem, even if it is sharp. The secret, which you learn very quickly if you go barefoot, is not to slide or shuffle your feet. The skin, the leather, on the bottoms of your feet just doesn’t puncture easily, though it does slice. So putting your feet straight down (which you end up doing almost automatically when barefoot) easily protects from any danger on sharp rocks.

Restoring Tiger Woods

August 27, 2010

Since the whole Tiger Woods imbroglio, he’s been playing pretty terribly. Until this week. According to this story on CBS News, he’s been working with a swing coach, who makes him practice his swing, TA-DA!, barefoot. It’s part of the swing coach’s regular prescription:

Foley had Woods remove his shoes and socks and hit balls barefoot. As crazy as it sounds, Foley says he has pupils do it all the time, because anything in the swing that’s herky-jerky or violent, or if the firing sequence is out of whack, can make a guy slip and slide all over the range.

The real question, in my mind, is if this works so well, why don’t the golfers also then compete barefoot? Hey, it worked for Sam Snead.

Massage Therapy

August 26, 2010

This is just a pointer to an article on the Massage Therapy Schools blog about barefoot running. Of course, foot massage is very relaxing, and there are even members of the Society for Barefoot Living who do foot massage There is a lot of good information in the article.

The article, in short bullet points, addresses such things as “Running shoes may cause more injuries,” “We run better barefoot,” “You’re not going to catch a disease and die,” and “Don’t let other people’s ignorance set you back.”

I do think they are overly cautious on one of their bullet points, “Start on soft surfaces”:

Your feet and eye-foot coordination aren’t going to be prepared to navigate the pavement, glass shards or pebbles right away, so practice on sand or grass first.

All practicing on sand or grass will do is teach you how to run on sand and grass. The way to learn to run barefoot is to run barefoot, everywhere. Use the sensation provided by your soles to give you valuable feedback. If running on asphalt or concrete hurts, you are doing it wrong, and you need to consider your form. Sand and grass just don’t give you that sort of feedback, so you may be training yourself to run incorrectly for being barefoot. Also, don’t run “barefoot” using those “minimal” shoes like the Vibram Five Fingers. Those don’t let your soles tell you when you’ve had too much—yeah, they let you keep going, but if your soles have had too much (and you don’t know it), then all the muscles and tendons in your feet have also had too much, but you have not been warned by your soles. That can lead to injury.

I’m not much of a runner (it just bores me—sorry). I have found that hiking really builds up the feet. The stimulation of various pebbles and sticks and such built up both my muscles and padding, so that whenever I do try something a bit more adventuresome, like running or rappelling or playing tennis, my feet have already been in such great shape, that I can do the extra activity with ease.


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