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Boots that were made for walking

 

They’re irreplaceable old friends that  have accompanied me for a thousand miles or more. Every step of the way.

I never imagined, when I bought them five years ago, that the distances they’d travel would be so vast or that they’d transport me on adventures that are still reshaping my life. I thought they’d be just occasional acquaintances, brought out to play on odd weekends.

But gradually the high heels and cowboy boots were discarded, the sandals and wellingtons laid aside and for the last two years they’ve been my default footwear, whether it’s climbing hills or boarding the steps of aircraft. Bare feet are the only better option.

They walked the Camino: 500 miles across Spain, climbing high over the Pyrenees and skimming the dust of the Meseta, kicking over woodland tracks and along the sides of hot motorways. They pounded the industrial suburbs of major cities and trod gently on the smoothed stone of ancient cathedrals. They carried me all the way to Santiago.

They walked more warily on the exposed ridges of  New Zealand’s Kepler Track, strapped on snowshoes in the wilds of Ontario and slipped into the stirrups of Ginger to explore the wilderness at the far end of Lake Wakitipu.

But (like their owner, I fear) they’re showing some signs of wear and tear. The once deep, rutted tread is worn smooth and unsafe. Holes have cracked open along the seams and they’re no longer watertight. I worry that their long adventurous days of crossing moors, hill paths, heather and rock are numbered but admire how they have matured and now tell a story of the bumps and scrapes experienced along the way; not least the mushy mess that replaced my little toe for a week in Spain.

But how do you say goodbye to such trusted friends?

Almost guiltily I’ve started to research brands and prices. After five years of skipping the footwear section of outdoor stores, I’m being drawn to pick up and assess the alternatives. I haven’t tried any on but one of these days I’ll have to invest and break in replacements though I’ll never dispose of them, and on dry days and gentle slopes they’ll be taken out of retirement.

Many years ago I tidied the attic and found the tattered trainers and broken skateboards my son had been hoarding. Callously, I  consigned them to the bin. He threatened to leave home unless they were retrieved so I complied, of course, but didn’t understand.

I’m sorry Ali; I get it now.

IMG_1429

The summit of Ben Lomond

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15 Comments Post a comment
  1. Doug #

    Your post brings back memories of how difficult it is to say goodbye to old boots. My first walking boots were turned into a planter and served for many years in the garden. Hope to see you soon Doug

    June 2, 2014
    • Yes, Doug. Flights are booked and looking forward to seeing you both. N

      June 3, 2014
  2. Sweet post, I agree that they would make great art.
    Brenda

    June 1, 2014
  3. Great ode to shoes. And if these had been car tires, you’d have spent countless bucks on rotations and balancing. These boots have left deep treads to fill. Maybe you should have them bronzed, like people used to do with baby shoes? 😉

    June 1, 2014
    • I’m not an “ornaments” person but boots are a different matter.

      June 2, 2014
  4. I can remember retrieving my tennies from the trash bin over 50 years ago when my mom had dumped them. I never got an apology!!! 🙂

    May 31, 2014
    • Maybe if you’d threatened to run away… I’m hoping Ali sees this and realises I’m still contrite.

      June 1, 2014
  5. Ha ha, now you have me thinking about a dignified parting with mine : )

    May 31, 2014
    • One of my sons is an installation artist so I’m hoping they’ll end up as an antiquey piece of art once they finally fall apart. Now that would be dignified (I think)

      June 1, 2014
  6. It’s so important to make your feet happy!

    May 31, 2014
    • You’re so right. Is that the cue to get a pedicure, I wonder? It’s been a while…

      June 1, 2014
      • You and your feet probably deserve it after wearing out your boots.

        June 1, 2014
  7. Hi Nancy,

    I have recently repaired mine in a place inside at the heel where the gortex seams were starting to drift and rough up as they do. I found I could use compedes for the repair so I still wear mine most days.

    Cheers
    Scott

    May 31, 2014
    • You can never imagine when you buy them that you’ll wear away all that tread and toughness. I love to see the worn laces and tattered padding at the ankles and if I could repair the holes and resole them I would. Anyway, replacement plans are still in my head; finances dictate the boots may be with me for a while yet. Nx

      June 1, 2014

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