Mt Washington Hiking Trail Map

BLISTERS

This is what happens when something rubs you up the wrong way (except close relatives, of course). Blisters are the bane of many a hiker’s life because they can be immensely painful and ruin a good day out. The only way to recover is to rest, which is no use whatsoever if you still have 15 miles to go to get back to the car.

If walking boots are the wrong size, or too loosely laced, they’ll rub against the socks and skin. As soon as you feel a blister developing, stop walking and take your boots and socks off. Scrutinise your feet, looking for the offending, fluid-filled growth, and then ask yourself the all-important question: to burst or not to burst?

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If out with other hikers, ask their opinion, then go with the minority decision stating, ‘It’s surprising there doesn’t seem to be any right treatment for this common ailment.’ Hardened hikers are divided into ‘bursters’ or ‘patchers’.

A burster will free the gunge building up inside. Should you be lucky enough to have a long, pointy thing for getting stones out of horses’ hooves on your penknife, this is ideal. Bursting can reduce the pain and allow your foot to recover more quickly. However, as patchers often point out, you run an increased risk of infection. To avoid this, apply a sterile membrane (which you will always carry in your backpack). Hiking becomes more difficult if you lose a foot due to gangrene.

Patchers take a more softly, softly approach. They apply a piece of cushioning material over the distressed area to act as a barrier and prevent any further friction. This can be anything from the first-aid kit – a plaster, a piece of gauze and some tape, or a bit of bandage.

Hiking becomes more difficult if you lose a foot due to gangrene.

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