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footwear for primate tracking

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I'll soon be primate tracking and habituating in Ugandan N.P.'s, up in the mountains, during rainy season where slippery mud and impenetrable rain forest make walking difficult. Due to neuropathy, I am unable to wear socks or closed toed shoes. My only options are all several sizes too big, and thus fit very loosely, except for a pair of leather golf sandals (with or without plastic spikes). 2nd option is slick soled gardening shoes (no traction) with a closed toe, but with several open vents down where sole meets toe cap. 3rd option is what I wear day and night absent special circumstance: plastic Nike slides with open toes and only a thick top strap (open heel and ankle area).

I'm concerned about slippery mud and red ants as I trek though parks, forests and swamps. I have climbed the Great Wall of China and walked all over the world in my slides, and can plow through mud barefooted or in my strapped on golf sandals if need be. Can I get any practical recommendations for how to handle mud, thorns/nettles and ants (and any other troublesome factors, like bilharzia) as I walk around Ugandan NP's?

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    Have you considered any of the TEVA hiking sandals? Something there might work for you. REI and Under Armor might also have some options. Crocs have some very different shoes (they have a lot more than just clogs these days) with big toe boxes and they are lightweight and water/mud is no issue. Sketchers has some very lightweight memory foam sneakers that I wear a lot, but are probably not sturdy enough. I don't know how to help because the conditions scream closed shoes, but you can't wear them. I would definitely wear something with a tread - that hike can be difficult in the best conditions. It depends on where they are if you have to hike further/through difficult trails. Hire a guy (similar to a Sherpa) to carry your stuff, if available, and bring all the options so you are as comfortable as possible.

    So odd how different neuropathy is for everyone. For many, walking is difficult. Obviously not your case. Someone I know shaves their toes because it irritates her so much. Another can't have sheets or blankets over their feet at night. I have to wear socks and with circulation issues really have to be concerned about injuries to my feet as they heal very slowly. Even just a blister or cut from shaving can take months to heal. I would wear waterproof hiking boots or trail shoes, take an extra pair so I'd have something dry to wear, and heavy socks to prevent blisters/sores/cuts and take many extras because if my feet get cold they stay cold for days. I workout daily barefoot (in safe conditions), walk a lot and take 600 mg or iu of Alpha Lipoic Acid (I can't remember the units, but it's 600) daily plus B3. I also use a TENS unit for pain/discomfort sometimes. All of them help to live pain free and keep that weird tingling sensation to a minimum.

    It sounds like a great experience. Do whatever it takes for you to be comfortable and safe. I'm sorry - I'm stumped.

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    I am so pleased that I am able to deliver you some life-altering news. Because you were so kind as to give suggestions on walking logistics with neuropathy, I can tell that you have not yet discovered my miracle cure: pure lanolin. CVS and various other drug stores sometimes carry tubes, and can sometimes special order 1# tubs. The usual usage is for nursing moms to protect their nipples from aggressive feeding babies. Recalling how the substance magically healed deep, painful cracks, I began using it on my feet when my docs prohibited me from daily topical steroids. I live in high humidity, but during winter and travel outside my humid environment, my foot skin cracks cripplingly, especially heels and toes.

    Lanolin is as natural and safe a product as exists, and it also happens to revolutionize foot care for people with neuropathy. I actually do have trouble walking, but I maximize my walking abilities by wearing Nike Solarsoft slides (I could not wear ANY shoes for years). They are way too big, so they don't touch my toes. They cushion my feet and protect me from the many puncture wounds that come with going barefoot. I also have to spend a lot of time on foot care. The best practice I have found is to file away the dead skin with those pastel colored, ultra lightweight man made pumice stones that you can find in some bath stores. The ones for use in showers do best, and then I follow the shower with an application of lanolin. None of this helps with the direct neuropathy pain, but it can totally control the open wound issue, which is half the battle. My feet hurt when I overuse them, so birding and primate tracking hikes are definitely challenging.

    I take gobs of Alpha Limpoic Acid, as well as absolutely indispensable amitriptyline. I can handle a single sheet thrown lightly over my feet (not tucked in) if I turn on my side so that the sheet does not really touch my toes, but I usually skip putting anything over my feet. Life in the hot, humid south is way easier than cold, dry lands. I love to visit Colorado, but the climate there requires far more foot care if you suffer from neuropathy. It took me years to find a competent doctor, effective meds, and a daily skin care regimen that freed me from the social prison of neuropathy. An African safari will definitely be pushing the envelope for me. I would not have even thought it possible just one year ago, but I am saving my "foot stamina" for the Ugandan N.P.'s. I go to great lengths to minimize my walking and will stick to vehicles and watercraft when those means of transportation are available. Bwindi and Mgahinga will be the toughest of tests for me. I will do my best, and if I fail, then at least I will know I tried.

    I'm not afraid of failing to traverse dense forest--I'm afraid the pain will not subside after I rest up. That has limited my mobility for years, but it also cause for celebration when I manage to succeed at challenging activities. Thanks for your foot gear recommendations. I can tell you have a similar affliction and comprehend the unique difficulties. Like any form of foot pain, if you don't have it, you don't understand.

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    You will not fail. Hire at least one personal guide and you will do well. Thanks for the advice - luckily my PN is significantly better these days with the ALA and barefoot workouts.

    I can't tell you how much a TENS unit helps with PN pain. This is the one I take when we travel. My husband uses it for terrible back pain, too. It's cheap, very lightweight and effective. Take a couple of 9V batteries and extra pads for the unit, and it's ready for anything. It might really help with recovery time between walks.

    They used to be pretty expensive - now quite affordable, and very effective.

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