Chase “Rafiki” aka Dirty Hippy Feet is a long distance hiker and US Marine Veteran. In 2018 Rafiki thru hiked the entire PCT in Bedrocks so when he reached out about wear testing our sandals on the CDT in 2019 we were excited to get him logging more miles. Rafiki writes about his experience along the continental divide trail and the different pairs of our hiking sandals he wore along the way. Follow Rafiki's adventures on instagram.
“Wait, did you just say your hiking in sandals?” How many times have you heard that? I’m Rafiki and in 2019 I thru hiked the Continental Divide Trail in my Bedrocks.
April 23, 2019 at the southernmost point on the CDT in NM.
I slid the strings between my toes and pulled my straps snug. I had my pack packed up tight with everything I would need to complete this brutal of a thru-hike. Last year (2018) along the Pacfic Crest Trail, I also wore my sandals. For those of you who know, it was a gorgeous year along the trail and I was able to walk a continuous northbound footpath from Mexico to Canada with almost no snow or bad weather. The CDT however, would not be so generous. Knowing full well it was going to be a tough year, I still decided to take on the challenge in sandals. This time around I asked Bedrock if they would supply me with sandals in exchange for some serious wear testing. Altogether they ended up providing me 3 pairs of sandals to to conquer this 3100 mile trek. Without happy feet, how can you keep a happy beat?
Bedrock prints weren't the only tracks in southern NM.
The first set of sandals I wore were the Cairn 3D PRO’s. These deep blue kicks would carry me close to 1300 miles thru New Mexico, Montana, and Idaho. While New Mexico is barren desert for about 500 miles, as soon as we hit our first high desert mountains, we walked right into a gnarly cloudburst. The four inches of winter wonderland made the mountains even more beautiful in a chilling kind of way. My hippie toes however could beg to differ with that last sentence.
The week before in the Gila River, I had also experienced a few (200+) water crossings to help prepare my feet for the cold temperatures I would endure along this trail. But, fires bring people together, and also warm dirty hikers feet just as well. Be sure to carry a pair of Injinji toe socks for those wet and cold conditions and your favorite sleep socks! You don’t want to destroy the footbox in your sleeping bag/quilt with your dirty hippy feet. The good news is your feet won’t stink like they will trapped in trail runners or boots all day.
A nice warm fire along the Gila River with some other hikers
I ended up hiking around 620ish miles in New Mexico before reaching snow fields too long for my liking as we approached the end of the desert and the beginning of the mighty San Juans. I decided I had no pride in walking strictly northbound this year as the snow in Colorado was vast and not going away anytime soon (it was already June)!
I decided flipping my way up to Canada and hiking south the rest of the way back to where I left off was my best option. I started my southbound trek with a tag of the northern terminus and headed back towards the desert of New Mexico. With only 620 miles on my Bedrock blues it was time to really rack up those miles. Through the pounding thunderstorms of Montana to the raging roller coaster rides of the Idahoan potato hills I was able to finally wear them out.
Whoa! Watch your step!
Oh, the valley’s in Montana.
In the small town of Leadore, Idaho I received my second pair of sandals. Coppers were also Cairn 3D PROs, but this time I was testing a prototype for the guys and gals at the headquarters. I’m personally a fan of the 3D footbed while thru hiking. The 3D’s will last longer and give you more sole to work with when you're road walking the long roads of the Divide or pounding away on the rocks of the Rockies.
Now, these prototypes were sick. They were my favorite pair of Bedrocks to date, built more for wetter conditions. Who doesn’t like getting their feet wet? Whether it's diving into a glacier lake, crossing a beautiful mountain river, or simply stomping through the puddles with a smile on your face. That's why you sandal hike, because five minutes later the piggies are dry, dirty and happy once again! All I can say is keep your eyes peeled for the release of these sandals in the Spring of 2020. I'll be grabbing myself a pair for sure.
Fresh kicks to finish out Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and take on a few hundred miles of Colorado.
It wasn’t long before the new sandals were dirty. There is no need to worry about breaking in a pair, they are made trail ready!
These orange beasts of a sandal carried me just over 1000 miles through the hardest terrain I have sandal hiked yet. From the boiling geysers of Yellowstone to Greys Peak in Colorado these prototypes hiked the miles with ease. They are quite a bit more durable in my opinion and came in handy when I found myself bouldering + scrambling down Knapsack Col.
Knapsack Col is an alternate pass along the high route in the Wind River range that will take you into the spectacular Ticome Basin and then back to the CDT. Since we hit the pass on the weekend, there were plenty of day hikers a’ gawking as I bedrocked by. I can’t say I didn't tighten my straps to mitigate slippage (Injinji socks do the trick as well) since my feet were sweating like crazy coming down the pass.
But once I completed it, heading back towards the CDT and passing people along the way, you’d find the biggest smile on my face. That smile, and smell of hiker is what allowed me to yogi some extra snacks off of the day hikers - that's what I like to think anyways. Our next challenge, even though we were gassed was the Cirque of the Towers alternate. We camped just before Texas Pass to rest up and regain our strength to be able to enjoy the Cirque as much a possible.
Most people think you’re crazy for sandal hiking in these places. Are we? Maybe so.
Immediately after a refreshing zero day in Lander, Wyoming, my feet were dirty and hot again in the Great Basin. The only big issue you run into while sandal hiking is dryness. Your feet will dry up and crack some gnarly Grand Canyon cracks if you’re not careful. I have even been known to carry a bottle of foot cream to lube up my feet right before I put on my sleep socks on for the night. If it gets bad enough I'll even put on the cream and toe socks to hike in for a few days to rehydrate. If you thought the desert of California or even New Mexico was dry, neither has anything on the Great Basin. Pack the cream, you won’t regret it.
Shower time followed by lotion is a must!
Burt's Bees foot cream and a Bedrock buff pillow case makes it homey.
This time when re-entering Colorado, I had no worries of frostbite or thoughts to buy snowshoes. I would be racing the first signs of winter in the San Juans though. Colorado climbs were steep and long, but I had over 2000 miles on the CDT covered at this point. Walking had become pretty easy. The days were getting shorter and night hiking became a normal.
When the moon is reflecting giving you light on high Colorado ridges, there is nothing better. Pretty soon we would be climbing a 14er named Greys Peak. It was the highest point on the CDT as well. My orange pair of prototypes now had over 1000 miles and I wanted to get a new pair to finish the rest of the trail. Dan from Bedrock had a pair of sandals waiting in Breckenridge, CO for me. This time he’d sent a pair of prototype socks for testing - a collab with injini due out in the Spring as well. This pair of socks not only saved me from freezing feet in the gnarly storms to come, but were the most comfortable socks I have ever worn with my sandals. I would love to rant on longer about these wicked awesome socks, but I’m not into ruining surprises.
For my last pair I chose to get the Cairn Adventures. I wore a pair on the PCT and loved them. This time I wanted to wait to wear them until my feet were nice and tough enough for the thinner footbed. This pair of sandals would carry me the rest of the 700 miles to the finish line at highway 84 on October 7, 2019.
Highway 84 is down there waiting to take me into Santa Fe with the CDT under my belt.
As most of you dirtbag long distance hikers know, there is never a finish line to these trails. Sure, the summers will turn to fall and fall to winters, but the adventures never end. I’m telling you as a Bedrock Sandal enthusiast, these sandals will stand up to whatever test you want to walk them through.
From the desolate desert, down into the Gila River, up into the high desert, higher into the passes of Glacier, up and down on the hills of Montana and Idaho border, through the alpine mountains and basins of Wyoming, and finally above 10,000 feet all the way through the state of Colorado. I never slipped a bit. If you’re looking to hit the trail on the CDT or even on the PCT, be sure to grab a pair of Bedrocks. At the very least I hope to see you wearing a pair around camp! Oh, and follow Rafiki, I’ll show you the way to get lost and find that smile! Happy Trails!
I hope to see ya'll out there! Thank you for reading!
All photos unless credited otherwise are taken by and published with permission of Chase “Rafiki”. Follow Rafiki's adventures on instagram.