The Happy Hikers 10 Essentials for Beautiful Feet

If it’s any random day in July, you can probably find me trekking trails in the Eastern Sierra mountains. My trail pup and I tend to hike between twelve and eighteen miles a day in some of the most scenic wilderness in California. If it’s July my favorite Saucony running shoes are usually a muddy filthy mess. And my feet? Oh boy, they are a wreck by the time the fourth of July fireworks burst over the town of Bridgeport, California. After eighteen miles on my feet my plantar fasciitis might be aching. My calves might be tight and my feet definitely look like the feet of a filthy mountain goat and not a sustainably fashionable Hungry Mountaineer in my favorite secondhand hiking skirt. What the hell can be done about these dirty hiker feet?

What is the filthy-footed hiker to do about these goat hooves? First of all you have to buy a cheese and foot grater. No seriously, this handheld tool is life-changing for your dirty hiker feet. Take my advice, always keep your foot grater not in the kitchen. And always grate your feet outside your home. Trust me, it makes way less mess. For those just really terrible calluses on your heels, the cheese and foot grater is the best way to go. But there are so many easy options to improve all your dirty hiker feet after all those badass summertime hikes.

The goat-hooved Hungry Mountaineer’s filthy foot guide

Nothing to see here, just grating my feet in the backyard.

For the last three weeks, I have spent so many days trekking to some of the most pristine alpine lakes this side of Yosemite National Park. Do I love to swim in these chilly, alright sometimes still snow-rimmed lakes? You bet your ass (Or goat hooves) I do! After a four-mile early morning trek to the top of Morgan Pass the other day at 10,200 feet the pup and I trekked down below the rocky pass to the Morgan Lakes to have a breakfast of champions of the best protein bars for hiking. By the time the pup and I staggered back up the rocky pass and on to the scenic Gem Lakes, it was almost eleven and so much warmer than when we began the hike at dawn! The Gem Lakes may have still had snow on their banks but I was going in for a swim as the temperature reached almost eighty-five degrees. I needed to get my dirty hiker feet in some alpine lake water.Baboon Lakes

The happy hiker’s tips for backcountry lakes good times.

Here is a big ‘ol tip about swimming in alpine lakes; Always and I mean always wear water shoes! So many backcountry fishermen throw out a lure or two in these pristine lakes and some of those lures are still in the sand after they get stuck under the water and the slimy rocks. I never go for a swim in an alpine lake without wearing my water shoes. The happy hiker is not one who steps on an old rusty fish hook and then has to drive to Bishop for a tetanus shot! With my recent hellish back problems, I have honestly not been wanting to carry more weight on my over ten-mile hikes so I have not been carrying my extra water shoes.  And that is one of the reasons my hooves, I mean feet are more destroyed than normal this July. But have no fear! The Hungry Mountaineer’s guide to happy clean feet is here!

So what does the Hungry Mountaineer do when she needs to go for an afternoon swim because it is just so gosh darn hot on these July afternoons in Mammoth Lakes? I always wear running shoes when I hike and one thing I love about hiking in running shoes is you can wear them hiking, swimming or wading through awesome alpine lakes. In my experience, I don’t get blisters from the wet shoes after I forcibly remove myself from the chilly hidden alpine swimming holes. Instead, my feet stay nice and cool as I continue hiking back out on those hot summer days. But sometimes these redneck swimming adventures of mine add up to my toes and heels looking horrendous by the time I get back to camp. I basically give up on wearing nail polish on my toes or having female-looking feet for all of July when I take these hiker vacations.

Break out the lavender oil and the foot grater for those dirty hiker feet

I’m so blessed as a long-distance hiker and ex-trail runner. In all the thousands of miles I have run and hiked I have amazingly never lost a toenail. But by the time August rolls around every year, I still have the feet of a goat after a month’s worth of treks in the Eastern Sierra. I don’t have any issues with goats, they make the loveliest cheese but I don’t want to have feet that look like hooves. So as soon as we get back from our camping/trekking outdoor adventure trip I am buying Epson salts, lavender oil and breaking out my old friend the foot grater. My dirty hiker feet need help and stat!

As much as I love the outdoors spending a month being a dirty camper can have its challenges. Like when my feet look like this. So where do I begin? I did bring one nice pair of sandals and one nice looking gently recycled romper on this campers holiday. I would like to look a little less homeless when we go out for our one fancy dinner out on the town this trip. And that is how I end up sanding my feet in our campsite at the end of every sixteen-mile trek.

I may not be able to save my skin from being covered in mosquito bumps and bites this summer with my dirty hiker feet. Yet after a month of treks through clouds of chomping insects at the end of the day, I may look like I have a slight case of leprosy but my feet can look better. I may have calves that are covered in a red stinging nettle rash and burn to the touch but at least the soles of my dirty hiker feet won’t be as goat-like with the help of my Vida foot grinder. I love this handheld device so much that each of my hiking girlfriends is getting one for their birthdays this year. I’m like Oprah with foot graters! “You get an exfoliating foot grinder! And you get an exfoliating foot grinder!”

It seems like every July when I travel to the eastern Sierras for three weeks of hiking twelve to eighteen miles a day I come home with running shoes that are one hundred percent destroyed. And yes, my feet look more like hooves. How on earth can I possibly wear sandals in public looking like this?

dirty hiker feet
Camping. While wearing Baby Feet. Multitasking at it’s best.

I don’t remember which friend of mine recommended Baby Feet exfoliant foot soak to me but these are game-changing for my disgusting hiker feet. You soak your feet in these ziplock baggies of awesome chemicals and acids for twenty minutes, then for the next two days soak your footsies in warm water and Epson salts for fifteen minutes a day. By day three that disgusting dirty hiker feet layer of your foot skin will just peel right off. It’s disgusting! It’s cool! It’s almost like a snake shedding it’s skin. Just a heads up, your feet will molt for three or four days after your Baby Feet experience but it’s so worth it to have fresh feet for a few days… Until you hit the trail again!

The torturous yet wonderful Korean scrub experience

Another item I have in my fabulous foot locker is these Korean exfoliating towels for dead skin.  These are the absolute best to remove dead skin cells and dirty brown trail dirt while camping from your sexy hiker legs. (The legs formally known as dirty hiker legs) I discovered these at my favorite Korean spa or jjimjilbang where you can pay a half-dressed Korean lady to aggressively scrub all the dead skin off your body with what smells a little like Ajax. Seriously my skin feels amazing after this treatment. I try to go twice a year but I do always feel like, man I wish they could use a healthier skin care product than what I think might be Ajax. If you don’t feel like being naked at the Korean day spa and scrubbed with Ajax you can buy these on Amazon for about two dollars for a four-pack on Amazon.

Here is a real excerpt of an Amazon review of this product that cracks me up.  “As I step out of the tub and let the water out, I am relieved that a product I was so excited about actually worked. I hear the last of the water escape from the tub and turn around to close the shower curtain. As happy as I am, it looks as though a baby mouse has exploded in my tub. SO MUCH DEAD SKIN.

In short, I love these and everyone is getting them for Christmas. The end.”