Barefoot hiking and walking sometimes tickles a bit

Douglas Brown, The Denver Post

If you have never walked barefoot on moss, pine needles, dirt, granite and roots, then you have missed something special on all of those trails.

Believe me — after nine years in Colorado, and decades of hiking, I felt I had experienced the gamut of backcountry gratifications. But the whole time I had been plodding over trails in boots so thick with rubber, plastic and leather they would have protected my feet from a patch of upright nails, a whole world of sensory adventure passed unnoticed under my feet.

Last month I hiked barefoot for the first time, on a trail near Ward. The short trek, maybe half a mile, would not win any speed records. This is not something to lament. The deliberate, sometimes halting hike introduced me to fresh pleasures that, well into a sometimes harumphing been-there-done-that middle age, are things to trumpet.

Who knew that walking on damp moss would make me grin, that after a few springy steps I would begin scheming hikes that involved an abundance of moss? Why had it been 35 years since I last joined my soles with a mat of pine needles? They were warm and spongy and sometimes tickled a little bit.

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