My shoes, more specifically, my hiking boots.
My hiking boots, over the years, have taken on many forms. They used to heavy leather ones, with names like Vasque, Raichle and Danner. These boots had to be cleaned regularly, waxed and oiled, then placed in the oven so that the oils would soak into the boots, making them waterproof, then the oils rubbed into the leather. My heavy leather boots gave me many blisters, but took me to some really great places: climbing the 18,000 snow peak in Mexico (Popocatepetl), exploring the side canyons in the Grand Canyon, and even to the summit of the Grand Teton in Wyoming. Then, I went to lighter weight hiking boots made from Gortex, with names like REI, Asolo, and Nike. These boots are a lot lighter in weight, are still waterproof, and have also taken me to incredibly beautiful places: hiking in the Himalayas in Nepal and Tibet, the Altai Mountains in Kazakhstan, and to the summits of many peaks in the Pacific Northwest. I don’t think that anyplace compares with hiking in the Himalayas at 15,000-18,000’ of elevation, except for one place. Climbing Mt. Hood, the tallest mountain in Oregon (11,235’), is one of the greatest places my hiking boots have taken me. I have done this five times now, and it isn’t so much the climb itself, but the people I have climbed with. On one trip, my friend Libby and I talked all the way up and down. We had done a lot of training hikes in the weeks before, and on this particular trip, climbing Mt. Hood was a piece of cake. There were several of us girlfriends that used to hike together weekly during the summer months. We called ourselves “The Lemmings” (this is another story). We hiked hard and fast. And we solved all the problems of the world as we went. We laughed. We talked. We cried. And we helped each other with our own personal problems. Now, my hiking boots have taken me to the north side of Mt. Everest, to the Tibetan plateau where I live and work. My hikes aren’t quite as frequent as in the past, but my hiking boots still help me to meet some really great people. And as for beauty, no matter where my hiking boots take me, the solitary peak of Mt. Hood is one of the most beautiful places in the world.