When Marinda Hauser invited me to go for a barefoot walk with her I had in mind walking through lush meadows with daisies sticking through my toes – in fact – despite being an avid barefoot walker – I had never thought of actually going hiking without any footwear. I loved the idea, and, being in Switzerland felt sure the route would be safe, soft and well groomed.
In true Swiss style they had set out small troughs to stand in and get a sense of the type of terrain we would be trekking over – so much for chamomile lawns but it was interesting and it gave me a heightened sense that my feet were in for as much of a workout as the rest of me.
I was keen to kick my shoes off and leave them hidden behind a tree but Marinda, who HAD read the instructions, said we needed to take our shoes with us just in case it all got too much. Good advice, she would have had to piggy back me out. As it was we took over 2 hours to do the longest treck. We were quite slow as we picked our way through some of the spikier bits. The wood chips to start with felt a little harsh and then our feet became more sensitised. However there were times when we simply put our shoes back on because the pine cones started nipping! Half way around our feet were tingling pleasantly and all our senses were alive. Warm pine, sweet heather, golden arnica flowers and pretty much no one else on the paths.
It was heaven! I would really recommend this – do take the map – available from Hauser’s reception and do follow the little barefeet signs lest you end up on some tar-sealed affair which your feet will not enjoy. Whatever you do remember to keep your shoes with you and give yourself the occasional break by wearing them. This is something you build up to rather than head straight into. I found that studying the ground so much on a walk gave me a whole new sense and appreciation of the land we walk on. Can’t wait to try another one!