Breaking in New Kicks

"If your nerve deny you - go above your nerve."

– Emily Dickinson

(And Cheryl Strayed) (And Stefanie Payne)

We'll be hiking a lot during 2016 and my other boots have seen maybe one too many miles over the years, so I bought some new kicks. You might recognize them from the movie Wild. (As far as I can recall, these are not mentioned in the novel of the same name.) These are the shoes that Reese Witherspoon playing Cheryl Strayed wore on her quest to conquer the Pacific Crest Trail. I've worn mine only once. 

Danner hiking boots, size: not that of Stefanie's feet. 

Danner hiking boots, size: not that of Stefanie's feet. 

Stupidly, I decided to trot out for a full day of hiking along the Sunset Trail in Hot Springs Arkansas without first properly breaking them in. By the end of the day and for two weeks after, my ankles were blistered and nerve-shot and cursing me, as my much less expensive, worn-once-too-many-time Keen's came to my defense.

I still have great faith in these boots and feel that once they are broken in, I'll never want to part from them. So, I enlisted advice from some experts in order to make them work.

One of the park rangers at Hot Springs told me to put the boots on, step into the river, then wear them until dry, allowing them to form to my feet in the process. REI, from whom I bought the boots, precisely says not to do this. I took both of their advice, dabbing them with river water, wearing them around Wally until they stopped making my feet bleed ... Eureka! I didn't need to break them in, they needed to break in me. 

Still, I'm not completely convinced that my shoe troubles are over and I still wonder if these boots will at some point go flying into a ravine this year. In that spirit, I welcome additional advice of how to break in hiking shoes. Feel free to have at it in the comments box below. Thanks in advance!