Have No Fear, My Feet Are Here

     Last week I wrote about my feet being frozen while out hiking.  Luckily the temperature wasn’t below freezing because my boots were filled with snow and water and my feet were really cold.  They weren’t really frozen but a neighbor was concerned and shared this interesting story with me so I thought I would share it with you.

     I read your column with interest.  It caused me to wonder, when you say "My feet were frozen" whether you literally mean they were frozen, or they were just very, very cold.

     When my Father was a teenage boy in Sweden he worked on his Aunt’s farm.  This was in the mid-1890’s.  One winter he had both of his feet frozen – literally frozen.  With great pain and suffering they thawed out his frozen feet.  A doctor was called.  His advise was that both feet should be amputated because of the danger of gangrene. 

     As young as he was, Axel was not having any of that.  He told the Doctor, "If anyone tries to cut off my feet I will kill them!"  The Doctor and the family became convinced that he meant what he said.  Fortunately gangrene never developed and Axel still had his feet when he died at age 83.  However, he suffered from circulatory problems in his feet all of his life as a result of the freezing.

     In his book Cold Comfort [© 1987, ISBN 0-941130-46-0], Glenn Randall has a very interesting chapter on feet and footwear.    It is entitled  "Only Twenty Dollars A Toe:  The Secrets of Warm Feet".  He relates the story of a cross country skier who tried to ski 18 miles in the Wyoming wilderness in sub-zero temperatures after falling part way through the ice on a lake and soaking his feet and boots.  His economy cross country ski boots were not up to the task – he lost two toes from his right foot.  Randall counsels:
Good footwear may seem expensive at first glance.  High-quality double boots for skiing and mountaineering can cost $200 and up. [Remember, this was 1987.]  Still, as vetern boot repairman Steve Komito puts it, "Good boots are actually cheap.  They only cost $20 per toe."   [page 60]
      I have certainly struggled with the price tags on top of the line boots.  I hope your experience involved only temporary discomfort and not any more permanent injury.  ~ Upron Rehnberg