Is it too early in the year for that enduring childish pleasure of summer: stepping out into the garden, barefoot? As simple, tactile experiences go, there’s nothing to beat it, especially if the grass has lately been cut.
Our understanding of how best to move over different surfaces is masked when we wear shoes. Activities which are seen as needing footwear, really awaken barefoot participants to their surroundings.
Barefoot athletes at highly competitive level are striking by their rarity, possibly for good reasons. It’s interesting to see a competitor whose sponsorship would cover any footwear, choosing to go without.
Barefoot hiking isn’t too bizarre, and separates determined nature-lovers from nervous town-bred types. Although, naturist-hikers go the opposite way, wearing only boots! Strangely, trails designed for shoeless walkers often employ smooth timber structures which keep nature at a distance. Isn’t that cheating?
Barefoot climbing has definite ups and downs. In urban zones where surfaces are solid, barefoot is a popular choice; in the rough rocky outdoors, we’re quickly reminded how far from home we’ve come.
There are indications that barefoot drivers are more at-one with the running of their vehicles, enabling them to reduce fuel consumption. Barefoot water-skiers display amazing control, their whole weight pressed on a few square inches of the surface.
‘Toe shoes’ are designed to protect the feet while allowing as much tactile information as possible to be transferred from the ground. A nice compromise, and better than a foot full of infected scratches.
Maybe barefoot would be the favoured fashion on the heart-stopping derelict cliff walkway in southern Spain, known as the Caminito Del Rey? There’s a €6,000 fine in force for ‘visitors’, now. Don’t slip: