At the end of the expedition, I was having a difficult time skiing and generally waddling
around. The tendons in my big toes swelled to the point of being distended obscuring the middle joint. It was rather strange to look down at the soles of my feet and see the large toes as sausages rather than useful digits. Upon returning to the States, my toes and feet were burning just after a half hour of walking
I’d only experienced this after returning from Yellowstone in 2009 and 2010 when my boots fit improperly. It took several of months before the numbness went away after those mini-expedition. The biggest pair of Rossignoll BC-X11 boots failed to accomodate the oversize width of my toe box, slightly and constantly crushing my feet. Stabbing pains shot through the tendons and bones several times a day, making progress painful and challenging.
Last year I finally found a good pair of 3-pin ski boots (old school!) from Sportsnett.no in Norway that fit me. They were oversized by about 3 European sizes but fully accommodated the width. The width crushing was over.
So why the injury to the toes in Antarctica? I believe it had to do with the way I was skiing to pull the heavy sled, being on my toes rather than rolling my feet in a natural gait for 82 days. The toes are designed to be rolled off of, not to fully support the full weight of myself and the pulks through the full foot motion.
Hence – sausage toes. After a month and a half, I’m able to snowshoe without pain. Three weeks after the expedition, I was able to only snowshoe for a quarter mile before the foot tendons were on fire. Now, after some time in Hawaii to recuperate and do a lot of nothing, my feet are beginning to feel normal again.
After six weeks of doing a lot of nothing, I’m ready to get back in the game and begin working out, skiing on what’s left in the snow in Jackson and generally running around. For, in the near future, I’m sure to be out in the wilds doing something.
Or, at least, taking a short jog.