Saturday, February 18, 2006

These boots were made for walkin'

In June 1969, when I should have been taking part in my graduation ceremony at UC Berkeley, I was instead on a rubber raft going down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. I was with my dad and young brother in a group, there were 2 or 3 rafts. It was a memorable trip: exciting whitewater rafting, serene contemplation of magnificent scenery in the quieter stretches of the river, camping out under the stars on sandy beaches. At the end of that 4-day trip was another experience awaiting us: the walk out of the canyon takes hours, and you ascend a mile. I was fit (and young!), but good hiking boots were essential. These boots that you see here, bought for that trip in 1969, have been my walking companions for all those years, on many hikes in different countries, continents, hemispheres! In the early 70s they were even my street shoes, part of the fashion of the Berkeley youth population in those days.

Eventually those soles needed replacement, and in 2000 I got that done. They're still like new. This week I had those cuffs (or collars) replaced, they had disintegrated to almost nothing. Now they are new, but the basic boots are still there, still fitting my feet like a second skin, still in superb condition. They will see me out, and I aim to keep walking for as long as I can. If someone asked me what I'd like to have in the coffin with me when I'm buried, I would not hesitate to say: my hiking boots.

By the way, the place where I have these repairs done is the wonderfully named Walkalong.


Val said...

Oh Val, what a lovely story. And yet another parallel...I bought my leather walking boots in 1969, they went with me on the Hippy Trail in the 70s to India and back (not walking all the way haha).
I only replaced them a couple of years ago, not as they were worn out but they didnt have integral tongues ie when walking through long wet grass or peat bogs my feet got wet through the eye holes and round the tongue.
As a lot of walking in UK is "damp", I reluctantly upgraded to a newer drie, lighter design, but the old ones are still wonderfully comfortable.

Alice said...

I know someone who is bound to comment on your first para.

Those boots look wonderfully comfortable. Are you planning to hike to the 'hereafter' in them?

Val said...

it is absolutely uncanny, how many things we have in common!! One day I am going to honor that with a post of its own.

can't wait to hear from that someone you mention. We went on a hike south of Bendigo today, putting the boots into action. It wasn't to the "hereafter", thank goodness, we were careful not to fall into any mineshafts! I'll be posting a photo on this soon.

Kerri said...

These boots were made for walking must certainly be your theme song! I can't believe the longevity of those boots, Val!!! What brand are they? That's a pretty darn good ad for them. They aught to put you on TV telling this story :)
Now I can see why you value them so much.
Walking is a wonderful passtime!

Kerri said...

PS. You passed up an exciting college graduation ceremony for a white water rafting trip?
You could've been sitting there for hours watching line upon line of student/professor hand-shaking and listening to boring speeches!!

Val said...

My husband seems to think it was an Italian brand, but he can't remember the name.

The only thing that might have been exciting about attending the graduation ceremony is that there was a rumour that graduates were going to attend wearing nothing underneath their gowns. I don't know if that ever happened though.

Tanya said...

Ah, whitewater rafting. Colorado. Brings back such memories... of one of the best - and at the same time, one of the most disasterous - of all my little overseas adventures. I'd tell you about it now, but it's a tale that is probably too long to fill a comment box. Maybe I'll blog about it sometime.

Yes, Alice was referring to me in her comment.

Val said...

Tanya, I'm all agog to hear about your disasterous adventure...

Wendy A said...

If only those boots could talk or write. Imagine the stories they would tell from their prospective. Now old and tired they are retired. You could always plant them. That is what I did with my kids shoes.(I did a post on it.) They would make fabulous planters all wrinkled and worn.