About a week ago I did my first training hike at Lake Georgetown with my buddy Clint. It wasn’t anything crazy but we did have a lot of fun. I surprised Clint right off the back when I began filling my pack with gravel from the trail head, at first giving a confused look and laughter as he realized what I was doing he then, because he is such a good friend, proceeded giving me the motivation I needed to carry the extra weight in the form of never ending jokes about my not so manly demise and outcome of the hike.
Besides testing out my legs, I also wanted to test out the pair of Brooks Cascadia I am planing on wearing for the PCT. After reading a bunch about thru-hikers wearing light weight shoes but having never hiked in a pair with any kind of weight on my back, I definitely wanted to test them out in a some what controlled environment. Controlled as in if they didn’t work out I could ditch the rocks and most of my pack weight and limp the rest of the way to the end. Thankfully, they preformed as well on the trail as they do on my trail runs and everything I have read seemed to hold true.
I’m planning on wearing mostly light weight wool socks for any part of the trail where my feet could get cold and wet so I wore a pair of smartwool socks and walked through just about every mud puddle and stream we crossed. My feet were cold at first but quickly warmed up and they were practically dry by the end of the hike just a few hours later.
During the 11 miles, we hiked at an easy pace of about 2.5 miles an hour which included plenty of rest periods, lunch and time for mountain Jinga. The pace was slow enough that we could take our time crossing slippery and rocky terrain but still in a pair of BOOTS Clint rolled his ankle TWICE. The second time gave him a good limp for the rest of the hike. The reason is that unless you lace up and tie your boots very tightly they provide just as little ankle support as a pair of tennis shoes and even then not a whole lot considering that most braces have some sort of ridged material in them to keep your ankles from bending the wrong way.
Every time I tell someone new about hiking in shoes they alway bring up the concern about rolling ankles, a legitimate concern for sure, but that day we both walked over the same terrain and I got tripped up just as many times as he did but in this case having strong ankles and shoes that allowed me be more agile and quick on my feet kept me from rolling my ankles. Of course I will be repeating this test with longer and heavier packs but as of now having a good pair of sturdy boots for some activities such as mountaineering is essential but for most hikes on marked trails where light weight and speed are important a pair of trail running shoes seem to be the better option.