Monday, May 10, 2021


A rail line was built to bring machinery and materials to the Hoover Dam construction site. The tracks are gone but the rail bed and five tunnels remain. 

The western two-and-a-half miles of the Historic Railroad Hiking Trail is in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. It’s a gradual uphill grade from the trailhead. The eastern mile and a half, starting shortly after the fifth tunnel, is in Bureau of Reclamation property. (The Bureau of Reclamation runs Hoover Dam.) It descends much more steeply, including a section of paved switchbacks that end at the top level of the parking deck. From there you can take an elevator to/from the level of the dam.

The tunnels are the main draw, especially on hot days when they provide the only shade. And because tunnels are just neat. 

Some percentage of hikers turn around after the tunnels. I considered it, but then decided real hikers would go all the way to the dam. So I did, even though I had been there before.

The uphill slog back up to the tunnels wasn’t particularly hard, neither was it enjoyable. But, hey, look at me, I’m doing the annoying thing like a proper do-what-must-be-done tough guy. That which does not kill you… does not kill you.

I wasn’t dying, but the balls of my feet weren’t happy. They must have been on loan from a whiney baby-man. And my left knee had started sending the first faint signals that it was 69 years old and that the human knee is kind of a lame design. (pun intended) My usual purposeful hiking stride had deteriorated into more of a lopsided shuffle. And I had two more miles to go. Luckily the compassionate Park Service had placed benches every so often where we old farts can literally take a load off, and gaze at Lake Mead. Under the noon sun. But with a nice sweat-evaporating breeze.

I made it back to the Rolling Steel Tent where I discovered I had large blisters on the balls of both feet. Well, there’s your problem.

My last genuine hiking had been in January. Had the hide of my feet turned wimpy since then? Apparently.

This throws a monkey wrench into my hiking plans. Do any of you have rapid blister recovery tips?

UPDATE: I punctured the blisters with a sterilized needle, applied an antiseptic, and covered them with moleskin. I can walk fairly comfortably. However, my hip muscles tightened up overnight. Ergh. Aging.


  1. My kayaking never gave me foot blisters like my hiking and biking did on occasion. One thing, if you did not already know it, is there used to be some special socks to go next to my skin. They apparently stuck close to the skin and did not let moisture collect next to my skin. Blisters were no longer a trouble while I had those special socks. I think I bought them through Campmor back in the late 1990's. I wore mine out and never replaced them. Now I don't do enough to get blisters. Good luck on your recovery from those nasty blisters.

  2. Some pretty good advice here:

  3. We've done the moleskin covered donut but no duct tape, just a layer of tight-fitting socks over the moleskin. It's tricky to get the sock over the moleskin without the edges of the moleskin rolling, though.

  4. James T. Hill, The Empire Builder makes for an interesting read; the kind of material that makes for an epic movie waiting to be born along the lines of Gone With the Wind, Ten Commandments as for your foot...Yikes...