I have recently been introduced to the practice of barefoot hiking. It feels fantastic. Before I tried it, I thought there was no way that human feet could handle the rough surface of the earth for more than a couple of steps. However, after taking my shoes off on a trail for the first time, I instantly knew my previous assumptions were absolutely unfounded.
Every barefoot stroll I have taken in the wilderness since then has given me satisfaction and appreciation for my own body as well as for the natural world. I am currently in a travel oriented time in life so this type of hiking has added a new layer of exploration and understanding of the places I visit. As I walk down a trail, I am able to sense the temperature changes in the ground and the gradual changes in soil and greenery. My feet are surprisingly tough but they are not invincible, and so I am made to slow down and choose each step with care. This allows me to experience the ground in a much more intimate way.
I recently went on a hike up to a lake near the Maroon Bells in Colorado where the top half of the trail was still covered in snow. I found myself able to walk on this freezing substance without issues. The reactions from other hikers are usually lighthearted and comical, but it can be annoying that this practice is so unheard of as to create such surprise. This aside, there is so much to learn and experience from the simple act of exposure. I will not be barefoot for every hike from here on out because sometimes I want to go farther than they can handle and through rockier territory. But when I choose to do this type of walking, I know it will provide a clarifying and energetic kind of experience. I highly recommend anyone and everyone to try a barefoot trail walk. It has made a huge difference in the way I interact with the natural world, and I believe that it has the power to reopen a channel of sensory communication that our species has disconnected itself from for so long.