I was recently reminded why I usually hike wearing Merrel Pace Gloves. I hiked Lark Harbour Head, in Blow-me-Down Provincial Park, in the Outer Bay of Islands near Corner Brook, Newfoundland. It's a fairly easy 3 km hike (one way) beginning on boardwalk, but mostly on dirt and bedrock. I hiked out barefoot.
It's a beautiful area, if you're ever in Western Newfoundland I recommend checking out the Bay of Islands as well as the more famous Gros Morne National Park, a bit further north.
The sturdy boardwalk turns into rotting boardwalk, which in turn gives way to a sort of corduroy road in the wet spots: forearm-thick tree trunks laid parallel to the trail, with cross-pieces nailed on to hold them in place. This would be fine, only the cross-pieces have mostly rotted away, leaving the nails behind. Someone has pounded those flat... well, most of them. I found one they'd missed, catching it right between my little toe and the next toe on my right foot.
No serious damage done - skin peeled off at the base of each toe, and a bruise between them. I stopped and washed it off, dumped some alcohol on it (yup, I always have my first aid kit!), and continued my hike. I put VFFs on for the return hike because my feet aren't toughened up, not because of the injury.
This also pointed out something I've noticed - the greatest hazards to bare feet are usually human-made. I also caught a branch between my toes on this hike (it's a talent...) which hurt, but did no damage. The branch could "give", though. The spike could not. Unyielding human artefacts are usually pretty rough on feet, shod or unshod.
I'll go back to my usual habits, wearing minimal shoes unless I'm really sure of what's underfoot. I love gardening barefoot, because I know what's around the yard, but heading onto the trails I'll be keeping my shoes on... mostly. Cool, muddy trails on a hot day are too much temptation!
Happy trails, with or without shoes.
PS: I guess you have to click on the thumbnails to see the images at full size.