Paris is the most lovely, most walkable city in the world. Just today I walked down a street I’d never seen before. I was rewarded with another piece of street art from one of my favorite street artists.
After reading Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild, about her hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, I will never ever again complain about my feet hurting. In the opening scene, she describes the moment when, half way through her hike, as she is sitting at a vista overlooking a mountain range, her hiking boot falls over a cliff. Irretrievable, she has no choice but to continue on without it.
It reminded me about a day last summer when it rained so hard in Paris that my well-worn walking shoes literally fell apart right there on my feet, right there on the street. I was lucky. I ducked into a shop and bought a cheap pair to get me home (The shopkeeper was likely horrified by my nude, dirty, wet feet). Cheryl had to hike for days until a replacement pair arrived at a lone outpost along the way.
Feet are a miracle. I’ve done more than my share of urban hiking over the last year. At the end of big hike days, as I lay in bed sifting through the daily harvest of photos, I wonder if my feet will ever heal from the ache. Sometimes my feet pulse with pain, the fresh blisters sting and the bottoms burn. Then there are the times I feel something crunching inside. Then I think I’ve really done it now. I’ve done something irreversible. And fall asleep worrying for my poor peds. But when I wake up, my feet are pain-free and I’m ready to take to the cobblestone streets once again.
Miracles, I tell you. The feet are miracles.
The pharmacies of Paris have entire walls dedicated to foot care. Blister bandages and Dr. Scholl’s products are available around every corner. And on park benches, you’ll see shoeless ladies looking at their bare feet as they open their newly purchased boxes of bandaids. Two words: Ballerina toes. Yikes.
Despite my extensive urban hike training, after reading Wild, I have no interest in hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. One reason: She named her backpack Monster.