SEA TO SHINING SEA: Go barefoot, stay grounded

May 26, 2013
Ben says his five-toed shoes are making him a better person.

This is yesterday's blog. Just found towers to post it.  I'll post today's blog later.

DAY 11 – Belknap Springs, Oregon – Barefootin' across America.

Ben tells me we're in the right campsite. I see he's wearing a pair of five-toed shoes. Vibrams. That's the brand.

“They're all I wear to hike and run in. They make a person run more naturally, hitting on the ball of the foot and using that whole quad muscle rather than stacking your bones and striking on your heel with each stride. People have better posture when they wear these and they can run further too.”

Ben tells me that much of the movement toward the five-toed shoes, and running barefoot for total minimalism, comes from the book calleed Born To Run. “This guy found a group of people down in Mexico that run barefoot. They can actually run down their prey. The advantage that humans have is that they can sweat. That allows them to run further. Animals like gazelles can outrun humans in the short run, but in the long run a human can run and walk an animal to death as part of the hunt.”

Ben goes on to tell me that going barefoot is also good for grounding humans. “We're so electrified with all our devices, and there's so much electricity in the air, it's important to go barefoot now and then – get our feet in touch with the earth – to ground us. Draw some of that electricity out.”

He told me the latest surge these days in this realm – for minimalists – is an eighth-inch piece of rubber that you put your foot on and then attach by looping some stout string around the ankle and back to the rubber through your big toe and the next toe.

He looked at me with a grin, shaking his head up and down. “Yup, that's what the purists are doing.”

You can see by the picture that Becky grabbed of me that this rare Oregon air does funny things to people.

We rode 25 miles today, 2,292 feet of ascent, and 9.1 miles per average. It was 41 degrees and raining when we started the day's ride. We ended by soaking our bones in the 104-degree volcanic-heated water in the Belknap Springs pool. Entrance came with our tent site. Now we're in the Camp Yale Campground, going to bed early so we can get up at the crack of dawn and make our run at McKenzie Pass. Should be smarter too. We're at about 1,500 feet and the pass is at 5,324 feet so we have our work cut out for us. We'll just take our time, chip away, granny-gear our way up steep switchbacks and stop now and then to rest and reload on water and PB&J. It's 6:30 p.m. Becky's in her sack reading Harry Potter. We crossed the coastal range. McKenzie takes us over the Cascades. Next will be the Rockies. Lots of passes.

On his High Country Snow album, along with Tim Weiskoff I believe, Dan Fogelberg sang: “I'm running down this mountain road at midnight; the truckers they all flash their lights at me. This highway ain't the very best companion, when I know there's somewhere else I'd rather be. I wish that I was in your arms asleepin', dreaming of that sweet love we just made. Instead I'm running down this mountain pass at midnight, wishin' I was in your arms again.”

There's snow up on that mountain that I'm looking at right now. Roll me up and smoke me when I'd dead.

It's all about the way the words strike the ear. I wrote that first line. The second is from Willie Nelson.

Not sure when I'll post this. Here at Camp Yale not enough bars for me to tap into the cloud. Maybe if I take my sandals off and get a little better grounded . . .

Ben says the more we measure and understand what's going on around us, the more we learn that we need to go back to the old ways. The way of the Tao is yield; the direction of the Tao is return.

Peace and love.

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