In spite of all my recent talk about spending less, there’s a certain kind of consumption that I can get behind: the purchase of kick-ass hiking boots. I’m saying goodbye to a great pair of mine.
When I decided to go to Alaska for two weeks in May 2003, my father (and guide) told me that I must purchase new boots. They needed to be waterproof, supportive of my ankles and flat feet, and durable. My dad assisted me in the selection of my boots–in fact, I think he may have actually bought them–and then instructed me to wear them night and day so they’d be broken in by the time we left for Anchorage.
They served me well on that trip as we covered the mountains of Denali National Park, squishy and wild terrain off the Alaskan highway, and many icy, blue glaciers. My boots were a souvenir of my adventure, and I got attached. Last month, I was genuinely saddened when I finally accepted that they were, in fact, “dead.” (See the tear in the heel up there? It is exposed throughout the inside and was ripping up the back of my feet).
Since Alaska, I’ve hiked in those boots in Arches National Park outside Moab, Utah (again, with my dad). I’ve snowshoed in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. I’ve gone on countless hikes across New York State, and Southern Ontario. My boots have climbed up one of the only “high points” near my grandmother’s house in Kansas, Coronado Heights. They also suffered the smells and substances of farm life when I lived and worked on a dairy farm in the Hudson Valley.
In South Korea my boots provided every day comfort, and critical protection when my heel was trapped under the tire of a moving car in a busy marketplace. Without the thick and high back of my boot, my heel would have been crushed instead of just bruised.
When I traveled to Germany, my boots paired up nicely with a bright skirt I bought at the H&M in Heidelberg. They also came in handy when my friend Zeb and I learned that to get to the hostel in a castle on top of a hill in Bacharach we had to actually climb the hill. And when our friend took us on a surprise day trip to a ski mountain in Switzerland, my boots got me through some of the thickest, highest snow I’ve ever seen.
And speaking of snow, my boots ushered me through seven Western New York winters including the one where our basement flooded several times and I had to traipse through freezing cold, shin-high water.
My new boots are still being broken in, and they’ve yet to experience much of anything. Still, I’m hopeful that their purchase goes as far as the purchase of my old boots, to which I say goodbye and good luck in your new life as planters.