A couple of weeks ago I was someplace in the mountains North of Santa Fe. I was reconning one of my solutions – this one unique in my portfolio because it begins in Colorado and ends in New Mexico. I was hiking up a dry creekbed running up the side of the mountain, scouring ahead and aside of me for any sign of the infamous blaze. About an hour into the trek, and halfway up the climb, I came face-to-face with a couple of fellow trekkers. Early sixties, I’d guess. (I say that like they were older than me, but at 63, they were probably my age.) They were coming back down the wash. The gentleman, I noticed, was favoring his right leg. They were both wearing generic “athletic” shoes. Low cut, and very stylish.
We stopped to talk, and soon discovered we were in the dry wash for the same reason. I having traveled from Albuquerque, they passing through the area in their RV from Nebraska. I had seen the RV parked at a cemetery near the trailhead, although I wasn’t on much of a trail. We talked a little about the thrill of the chase. Their convenience store water bottles were near empty so I offered them a couple of water packets, letting them know I had plenty. They graciously accepted them. I asked the gentleman if we was OK, nodding in the direction of his right leg. The lady said he had twisted his ankle, and he said he was fine. I suggested they be careful on the way down the wash, as the combination of fine sand, stream-polished stones and gravity made for treacherous walking. The three of us, interested in getting on our way, shook hands, and wished one other luck in the hunt.
Gravity puts the entire weight of your body on your ankles and feet. Between them, both right and left, there are hundreds of bones, tendons, muscles and other pieces of connective tissue that independent of one another, are fairly fragile. Multiply this by the effect of walking over rough, unstable, angular, unpredictable ground and you make recipe for, while not quite a disaster, at least the spoiling of what could be a very good day.
(As I’m preparing for each of my recons, getting my gear ready and packing my knapsack, I ask myself the same question: “How would I feel if I read someone else had found the treasure in an area in which I was searching, but I had to return to my SUV because I didn’t bring my (fill in the blank)).
Good boots, for example.
These are my Herman Survivors. I love them. They’re tough, comfortable, triple stitched, waterproof, and have a steel plate inside the leather protecting the front of my foot. They have a thick, grippy sole that’s stable in water, and they clean up with a jet spray from my garden hose. I go through a pair about every ninety days. Because of me, not the boots. When I’m trekking I wear them with two socks, an inner silk one to prevent blistering and enable wicking and an outer wool one for comfort, and in the cold, warmth. You can find them in your local Wal Mart for about $60, or you can order them online at Amazon.com
There are more expensive boots. There are more technical boots. There are lighter, more expensive and more technical boots.
But, these boots are mine. And, when I find Fenn’s treasure, I’ll be wearing these boots.
I want to be cremated in them, so I can wear them on the other side. Whatever the heck the other side is, I mean.
If you find yourself someplace in the mountains North of Santa Fe, where you will experience a lot of different, challenging terrain, some of it wet and much of it other than level, make sure you’re wearing a pair of good boots. The kind of boots you can learn to love.
Reserve the damned athletic shoes for your next speed-walk around the mall.