Sunday, April 07, 2019


I like feeing the texture of the ground under my feet, but I've never enjoyed being barefoot.

The only barefoot walking I ever did of my own free will was walking barefoot through the snow-- sometimes a quarter mile or so through the woods. The ice balls which form between the toes and get uncomfortable are the biggest downside. When my late daughter Cheyenne was small we had a ritual where she, my son, and I would go for a quick barefoot walk in the snow together at least once every winter. More often if she asked. She looked forward to the first substantial snowfall every year for just that reason.

Other than that, I've never been much of a barefooter.

But I love the feeling of walking in moccasins.

For a large part of my life, I wore moccasins almost all the time. Not the padded abominations with rubber soles that some call "moccasins", but moccasins with nothing but one layer of leather between the ground and you. I did always wear socks or wrap my feet in wool blanketing, though, so there was some padding.

I had a few pairs of moccasins in the closet which didn't fit well. I have been wanting a new pair of Navajo/Kaibab moccasins for years. Those seem to work best for me in civilization.

So several years ago when I had some "extra" money (haha!) I ordered a new pair. I ordered them early because we were heading to Colorado and I wanted moccasins to wear while wandering. And I waited and waited, and got excuse after excuse. A month or so after the trip I gave up and asked for my money back, and it was grudgingly refunded.

I just put the moccasins on hold after that. For almost 7 years. Then, a few weeks back, I did some closet cleaning and decided to sell my 3 pairs of old too-small moccasins. They all sold quickly and with that money I ordered (from a different place) a new pair of moccs. I've been wearing them a lot since then and relishing the feeling.

Why did I wait so long?

When you wear moccasins almost exclusively you learn a different, quieter, (and I suspect, more natural) way to walk, where you meet the ground first with the ball of your foot and then roll the rest of your foot to the ground. It's not as awkward as that makes it sound. The heel doesn't end up bearing much weight. In fact, it's also how I walk when in sock-feet, due to years of developing the habit. It's hard to walk this way in modern footwear because the shoe heel gets in the way, so then I usually revert to the clunky modern style of walking where the heel strikes the ground first, then you fall forward onto the rest of your foot. I can still walk relatively quietly this way (which is why so many people have threatened to put bells on me over the years), but it doesn't feel as right.

I had flat feet when I was a kid, inherited from my mother. My feet may still be flatter than normal, and shoes with "supportive" arches feel like there's a golf ball in the shoe, but my feet are not as flat as they were when I was in my early teens, before I started wearing moccasins. Could use have strengthened the muscles and ligaments of my feet over the years? My mother has only worn shoes with good arch support and her feet are as flat as it is possible for feet to be. I don't know if there's a correlation or not, but it's just data to ponder.

Footwear is a personal thing. I'm sure the preferences are completely subjective. I wear stove pipe boots when I'm going to town or I know I'll be walking on abrasive pavement. But for the sheer pleasure of having feet, I just really love moccasins.

Note: The picture shows my new Navajo moccasins on the left and my old mountainman moccasins, which I made from braintan buckskin, on the right. I don't wear the mountainman moccs in the modern world for multiple reasons.


Reminder: I could really use some help.

Writing is my job.
YOU get to decide if I get paid.

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