Friday, February 07, 2014

Sole Searching...

Post courtesy DH

On the recommendation of a friend and fellow slave to bound parchment, I desired to read that famous book with a crumpled hiking boot on its cover. Santa, working in his own way, arranged for that book to land up with my better-half in a book exchange. Here, I shan't name that book, as a more thorough review of it would likely be forthcoming from the pen of said better-half.

I would like to say that the book inspired me to slap on a backpack and stride purposefully along to the nearest hiking trail - with a name long enough to justify an acronym like the 'PCT' of the book, but in reality the picture of that well-worn solitary boot reminded me of my own pair.

        I took a quick glance at my beloved hiking boots, now in their 6th year, with many miles of trails in UT, AZ and more recently WY, OR etc. The out-sole is still going strong, but in the upper, there are key spots where the leather has managed to unshackle itself from the bondage of thread and is trying to break free. I'm all for freedom, except where my own feets' comfort is in question. So, perhaps it's time that- "if I love it - I must set it free" ... and hope that it never comes back. But before doing the bidding of freedom, or of love, I need to find a replacement pair that fits the bill - and my two feet.
Simple enough - go out and buy a pair of boots? Would that it were so simple!

The almighty might not have realized that in not equipping our feet with hard hooves, she was signaling for an industry that would in time employ many people, involve all sorts of material - natural and engineered, much money and most importantly - Time, lots of it.

The quickest recourse would have been to replace with an exact same pair? Alas! in the creative destruction of our economic process, entire brands get rebranded or wiped out - what to say of specific models. Something like that has already happened to the brethren of this pair.
Fine, I'll go online and shop the (Oh Lord!) gazillion stores for the nearly infinite number of makes and models and find my .... forget about it. Not to mention that the sizing chart differs significantly from one maker to another and masochism of the feet isn't really my thing.
Ok then! go to a store. But dealing with the painfully-resolute-to-help staffers is another deterrent in selecting one's sole-mate.

Braving these obstacles and simplifying the search by eliminating options that sounded too European - I decided upon a specific model of hiking shoes and was happy with my choice for about 3 minutes, which is how long it took for the idea to take root that I must look at the reviews online. It was like opening Pandora's box and finding out that Pandora wasn't exactly thrilled you did.

Knowledgeable people claimed that these hiking boots were best to hike only carpeted trails, or that they weren't quite as water-proof as they claimed. Hitherto, I had thought that being waterproof was a binary trait - you either were or not, but what did I know anyway! People further talked about materials like 'Gore-tex' that sound like they're bullet-proof, or of how breathable the material is. By now I was completely baffled! A shoe allows your toes to breathe but doesn't let water in!! Capital!! Only, my selection didn't. Crumbs!!
Others fancied 'Vibram' soles. I started climbing the slippery ladder or descending the slippery slope - whatever! and changed my selections several times - but the commentary continued to plague my selections.

It was like getting a baccalaureate degree on hiking boot selection - in 20 minutes with the resultant increase in wisdom - or its identical twin - confusion.

Now when I look at that book's cover - I snarl at the boot therein - "Serves you right that you are crumpled and wearing that stinking red lace"

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