FiveFingers on the trail

Even though the real big hiking adventure hasn’t started yet, my feet have been familiarized with the trail they are about to embark on during some shorter try-out walks.

Like me they have to acclimatize and get used to the surroundings, the tempo and the nature. Breaking in the new shoes, building up strength and literally getting used to the climate. We are trying our best in preparation and will be on our way as soon as we’re ready.

More than 1300 kilometres on foot through the Dinaric Alps. On foot through wilderness with a big heavy back pack that will need to be carried day in day out. On the trail you’ll find, given that you make it to 25 km per day, some form of accomodation with food and supplies every three days. Other than that you’re on your own.

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On the one hand I can’t wait to get started, on the other hand there is still so much more I can do in terms of preparation. I have decided to wear Vibram FiveFingers on the trail. Before I’m going into the mountains with full pack I wanted to break in the shoes I’ve been given. I made a start in the Netherlands, but I realise that the mountains here in the Balkan are of a different calibre.

While choosing the two pairs of FiveFingers that I will wear alternately, I mostly took into account the terrain. The Dinaric Alps have the largest carst mountain range in the world, so lots of limestone, very dry, rugged and sharp terrain. The Via Dinarica also passes through many national parks with bushy forests and paths that are still very impassable.

Bosnia Herzegovina is famous for it’s diversity in landscape. And that’s true. In a 8 km round walk I have passed rolling hills, clear mountain streams, deep ravines with roaring waterfalls, a grass plain full of flowers and a rocky trail. What kind of shoes should a person wear?

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A sturdy sole with lots of grip seemed neccessary for the rocky parts. But a sole with a bit more profile would be better for steep grassy slopes. That’s how I ended up with the Spiridons and the Komodo Sports, for each errain its own. But will it work? The past two weeks I have gone out to test both my shoes and get to know the surroundings.

To be honest I was afraid that I would immediately slip somewhere so that everyone could tell me “told you so.”  Or that I would break my toe or get giant blisters at spots that were impossible to tape. But my fears were unfounded. I managed surprisingly well on the most slippery rocks and bumpy steep grassy slopes. After more than 20 km it was a relief to take off the shoes, but no blisters or injuries.

Of course things can still happen and I haven’t tried walking with a full back pack yet, but it gives me hope that all the walks I have done so far have gone better than expected. Now that I worry less I can enjoy more. The sense of joy and playful freedom takes the upper hand while my confidence grows.

It’s an essential part of the preparation for the big hike, the adventurous exploration. For me it isn’t about challenge or achievement, but about experiencing and enjoying the moment. Truly living in the moment. To feel connected to myself, to others and to nature. And by wearing FiveFingers I connect better. I’m connected to the earth, to my body and to others!

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Translated by Liesbeth


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