By Michael the Lost
If you are not a fighter your feet will probably be the most painful part of your Pennsic experience. I have heard rumors of people getting jungle rot at Pennsic. I find that hard to believe but I would believe that a lot of people get infected foot wounds. I am always surprised at how many people don't know about simple things such as moleskin. Here are some things I do to take care of my feet when I'm at Pennsic:
Change socks twice a day. I wear two pairs of socks at a time so this is easier.
Wear shoes that breathe. Most period boots that I've seen don't breathe very well. Sandals are good if they have a decent sole and I think sneakers are appropriate because of the abuse you are going to put your feet through.(let me put it this way: sneakers that glow in the dark are a bit too obviously OOP but if you get a pair of brown or black sneakers they will still be out of period but they won't be that noticeable and your feet will thank you)
Keep your feet clean. Aside from daily showers this year I'm planning on bring up some epson salts to soak my feet in. I've heard that a pinch of Cayenne works, as well as Pau d'Arco (find it in health supply stores). I have also heard that baby wipes are good for disinfecting and softening your feet.
Keep your feet dry. If your feet get wet change to a dry pair of socks as soon as you can get around to it.
Moleskin: Know it, Live it, Love it. Pack a lot of it. You'll use it. It's like a band aid except it's thicker, fuzzy on one side and all of the other side is sticky. It comes in sheets and you have to cut it to the right size to cover your blister. When you cut it make sure that all corners are rounded off. Moleskin will stay on for a long time but if there are corners it will be pushed out of place or come off a lot quicker. Some people make one layer of moleskin with a hole in it that surrounds a blister and put one over that first layer and the blister so the blister is covered better. It's hard to explain without diagrams, but there should be instructions on the package of moleskin when you buy it. Look for it in Rite Aid or Wall Mart. I don't know why but the Cooper Store did not sell it last year or at Pennsic 28. I ran out of my personal stock in a few days and had to mooch off the chiurgeons tent after that.
Dr. Shoals shoe inserts. I use two pairs of double thick inserts at a time.
Blisters: to pop or not to pop? Sorry, I know this is gross, but there are different sides to this argument and I am always hearing that I do it wrong even though I'm a fairly experienced hiker (and an Eagle Scout). Some people say that popping them invites infection. The way I look at I'm going to be walking on this blister so it's probably going to pop anyway and I might as well pop it in a sterile environment. I pop them carefully near the base of the blister with a needle I clean with flame from a lighter or match and squeeze them out. I make sure the skin area is clean and apply moleskin. I change the moleskin with my socks, twice a day, and clean them with an alcohol swab when I do. Another method is to get a clean needle and thread and stitch the thread through one side of the blister and out the other. The idea is that the fluid getting wicked into the thread protects against infection and the wound you create when you make the hole is covered by the thread, which keeps the wound clean.
Use a walking stick. You'd be surprised how much weight a walking stick takes off your feet.
(© 2002 Michael Daniel)