Spring Break Killed My Shoes

About ten or so years ago, I got a pair of sturdy canvas shoes from L.L. Bean.  I wore them a lot when I was walking.  Particularly if I was walking over terrain that was dusty or muddy.  I used them to hike when I was on vacation.  I wore them on our trek to Skytop in November and kept them in my travel bag for our recent spring break trip.  After a hike (by myself) up the West Rim Trail, my shoes finally gave up the ghost.  

Now it should be said, that after 10+ years they were starting to go a bit.   L.L. Bean does sell quality products, but nothing last forever, especially if you really put them to the test.  And this I did on Tuesday afternoon.  It's also important to note that even though I wore/ripped them on Tuesday, I wore them again on Wednesday for another hike (which may explain why my blisters have blisters) and then ordered a pair of hiking boot and socks from L.L. Bean.  (It's about time right?)

 What finally did these in was the West Rim Trail.  It's not one of the most challenging trails (like Leavitt Falls Trail which I did on Wednesday), but it's not easy (like my favorite Lake Trail or the Trout Stream Trail which leads to the beautiful Indian Ladder Falls).  It's moderate and it's long.  I probably shouldn't have done it on my own (something I tell my son never to do) and I never saw another soul on the trail.  It requires a lot of uphill walking (which you really feel in your legs and gluts).  At one point the trail forks; because it is a giant loop.  The payoff view is to the left, which is why I always go right.  I want to hike the hike and end with a beautiful view.  It's the reward for the work.

 I knew the ground would be wet.  There had been rain during the week and I don't think I've ever been on a hike where I haven't encountered some damp or wet ground.  I was doing well and had caught sight of what I thought were wild turkey.  (Unfortunately I got no photos...they were running/waddling along pretty quickly.)  I had encountered some water and managed to avoid getting my shoes wet (but not muddy) when I came upon a portion the trail that was full of water and there was no way to avoid it.  It was at least ankle deep (at least as far as my ankles go).  I could have turned back, but I had climbed up this far and I am not a quitter.  So I did my best to trod through the shallowest area, but...

The water seeped through and I trudged on with soaking wet feet.  (Is it any wonder I had blisters?)  It may not have been the best decision, but the views in the end were worth the blisters (in my opinion)



Despite the fact that the shoes were not in the best shape, I still took them out for a spin on Wednesday to do one of the most difficult trails:  Leavitt Falls.  I love the views here too, but it really is challenging and I would NOT be able to do this without the help of ropes that have been set up by naturalist Rick Koval which I hold on to (tightly!) to get up and down some difficult spots.  (Full disclosure, I do NOT attempt the most difficult portion of the hike, the Lemon Squeeze.  I don't think this body can squeeze through the small space.  I instead take the "go around" path.).  I was glad that there was no one around to see me do this because I do a lot of "crawling" and "grabbing" in some areas that are definitely not very picturesque.  This is a trail that I know will become impossible for me in the future, so I try to take advantage of it when I do visit.  Again, the view is the payoff for the work.


After this hike it was definitely time to retire the shoes.  I did do a little more walking on Thursday before we headed home.  This time I wore my loafers (not hiking shoes!) around the Lake Trail (which is easy) and then again up to the West Rim Trail, only this time I was with my son and we didn't do the full trail.  We took the "easier" fork and just enjoyed the view before (reluctantly) heading home. 

Now I anxiously await my package from L.L. Bean (Monday?) and the chance to hike those beautiful trails again!


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