The trek through Hawk Mountain (see Hike #19) was made easier by one thing (well, two things, if you consider that not spraining my ankle was a great contributor to my enjoyment): no toe-nails.
Still there? You read that right. Although, let me clarify... I have toe-nails, I'm just missing the nails on my great toes. "Why?" you ask. Because on my last hike through Hawk Mountain I had not done something that every hiker must make sure they do before going on any hike, let alone a strenuous one. Keep your toenails short. I advise that your toe-nail should not go past your toe.
When you're descending on a hike, your toes will butt the front of your hiking boots. This is one of the reasons that you want to get a pair of hiking boots that are anywhere from 1/2 to a full size larger than what you typically wear. Your feet will expand as you walk on them (another reason why you will typically read in hiking or walking blogs that you should not purchase your boots until later in the day - the more you're on your feet, the more your feet expand, the better idea you will have of a true fit when your shopping!). And, as your feet expand, you will run more of a risk butting your toenails against the front of your boot.
This is another trauma my body experienced during Hike #4. When I returned home that evening, I pulled my socks off to find that both of my great toes had black nails. One would fall off and the other was cut off (by a podiatrist). With all my nails short, and missing my great toe nails, I was able to hike through the steep descents of Hawk Mountain with nary a shooting pain in my toes!
I never thought I'd ever be happy about not having toe-nails....