Socks & Sandals, So?
By Pastor Steve Hughes
Chapter from “Mother Earth is a Bitch and She Will Kill You.”
The apostle James had just been executed by the sword for his faith by order of the religious and political leaders. Peter was arrested, thrown in prison and expected the same fate. People in the church prayed for him.
From the Biblical book of Acts, chapter twelve: An Angel of the Lord appeared in Peter’s cell. The angel tapped Peter on the side to wake him up. The angel said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. Then the angel said, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Now put on your coat and follow me,” the angel ordered.
Now that was different, not the outcome expected.
Have you ever been at a place in your faith where something was nagging at you? You were simply following what you had seen others you trusted do and/or believe. However, you were hoping and thinking there had to be an alternative, another way of looking at and doing this thing called faith and following Jesus. But what would that be, how would others react, and how would this impact you and others.
Let’s talk about wearing sandals with socks. Yep, proceed with the old man jokes now. However, before you cast judgement based solely on fashion sense, let’s consider some real life practical applications of hiking on a trail with socks and sandals.
Back in the 1970’s, when I began backpacking, the standard footwear was all leather heavy boots. A leather boot was great if you were hiking on a wet and muddy trail, traversing a talus slope, or going off trail through brush. I remember owning a pair of all leather hiking boots that served me well for years. I even had one pair resoled. Using all leather boots I backpacked and hiked through the North Cascades, Yellowstone, Glacier, Big Bend, the Guadalupe Mountains, the Sierra and Yosemite.
After hiking all day in a leather boot your feet could be hurting. Possibly sore toes, warm spots, or blisters. Also, tired feet and legs from lugging around a few extra pounds on your feet. Consider this, in most national parks the trails are well maintained and have a nice open path. Why the need for your foot to be encased in a leather boot that may give you blisters? Welcome the introduction by a company in Colorado of a hiking sandal with a rugged hiking sole in 1989.
I’m biased of course, but the Sierra are a hiker’s heaven. The best place I’ve experienced for hiking and backpacking during the summer. Your feet experience nice maintained trails, very little rain, except for the occasional monsoonal thunderstorm, with generally dry ground and granite slabs to walk across. Why wear a boot? Let your feet breathe and not be concerned with blisters or sore feet! Wear hiking socks with a hiking sandal.
I’m not sure of exactly what year but, soon after moving to Yosemite, I began backpacking and guiding trips using a hiking sandal and hiking socks for footwear. I indeed received some strange looks from other hikers and skepticism from those I guided through the Sierra. I enjoyed hiking comfortably through meadows and over mountain passes with my sandals. As a wilderness guide for “weekend” hikers, I became an expert at applying moleskin to prevent blisters or draining and bandaging large blisters. At times I would carry an extra pair of sandals on the trail to give to a client to hike in whose blisters had become unmanageable.
When buying a new pair of boots here are a few tips to help you avoid blisters. First, buy the right size of boot for your feet. Too tight a boot leads to pressure points and blisters. Too loose and the back and forth motion will develop a blister. Try the boots on with the socks you will hike in. Do not lace up your boots too tight. You can adjust your shoe lace pattern to take pressure off a certain area of your feet. Wear wool/synthetic blend hiking socks, no cotton! You can wear a liner sock made of polypropylene to reduce friction and reduce blisters. Break in your boots by wearing them for a couple of weeks before you hit the trail. You can take all these precautions and more, and you might still develop blisters.
What’s an alternative to wearing boots, applying moleskin, and having painful blisters? Socks and Sandals Yo! Over the years I have met and read about other wilderness guides and park rangers who have also adopted the socks and sandals method of hiking. There are some drawbacks. Occasionally a small rock or debris gets between your foot and sandal which must be dislodged. Your feet get extremely dusty and dirty as trail dirt passes through your sock. Of course it’s hard kicking steps up a snowfield with sandals on, which I have done. If I know I’m hiking a long section through talus, snow, wet or muddy conditions, I will hike in a boot or hiking shoe. But otherwise, the payoff of hiking in socks and sandals is well worth some of the occasional downsides.
When it comes to faith and belief, following are a few situations that may relate to you, and possibly socks and sandals. Is there a certain alternative Christian belief that you would never consider? Have you ever been critical of other Christians who hold a different belief, style of worship, or lifestyle in following Christ from yours? Are you willing to recognize the goodness of God that comes to someone whose belief and faith in Christ differs from yours? Are you at least willing to explore an alternative way of belief in and following Christ?
When you meet a hiker with socks and sandals, find camaraderie in being together in the midst of God’s creation and being on a journey that involves path finding, discovery, overcoming obstacles, fellowship, and joy in experiencing the beauty and power of God. May we have that same desire and pray for one another in the wilderness of the real world of our everyday lives.
“Get up and put on your socks and sandals!”