But for now, let me just say that before one sets off on a hiking/backpacking adventure, it is always a plus to check one's equipment. Let's just say, for instance, that if your long-beloved boots fail on you, it is good to have this piece of information WELL before you are on the trail. Also, rather than scoffing at packing lists that include "Duct tape" as a necessity, you should go directly to the Home "Despot" and buy rolls and rolls of the stuff so that you can tape your boots back together.
Aaaaah,hindsight is 20/20.
Anyway, my boots did not totally fall apart, but I did not even look at them when I put them on. Obviously I looked at the laces and strapped myself in, but the boots felt fine as usual. Then, once we arrived at our destination, I took them off when I was putting on my long-underwear (very sexy detail, that is!), and when I put them back on, I noticed that the sole was starting to separate entirely from the boot. I believe that the hiking gods had cursed me because I had been so smug about these boots! Just as we were driving up to Sequoia/Kings Canyon, I boasted about how wonderful they were, 8 years old and still going strong.
Despite my fantasies of a barefooted trip back to the trailhead, the boots did survive the trip back down, but they might be headed to the land of dead boots. This makes me incredibly sad because I have a strong attachment to them. My parents bought me these boots as a birthday present before I hiked down the Grand Canyon, back in the spring of 2002. They've accompanied me to Ecuador twice and on several other overnights and any sort of snow adventure that I might encounter.
Here they are now, having seen better days:
In an effort to salvage the boots or to get something from them, Michael and I headed to REI today. He was convinced that I could ask for a refund because of their very generous return policy, but I felt that in good faith I could not tell them that I was disappointed with their product. Yes, I was disappointed that they had fallen apart after eight years, but I didn't see it as "equipment malfunction". The woman at the return desk was skeptical about them, but she sent me to the Dave, the shoe guy. I, in turn, was skeptical about Dave, until he took
the boots and gushed about what wonderful shoes they were and ruminated about the fact that REI no longer makes the product. I felt like ruminating too, but he did give me one glimmer of hope - REI would send them to their "shoe repair guy". If he could fix them, then he would.
I should find out in just a few weeks, but I'm going to keep my fingers double-crossed!
I can't even tell you how excited I would be if if REI sent resoled boots back to me.
Nor can I tell you how bummed I am going to be if the shoe wizard cannot fix them. While I like to shop and love a new pair of shoes, I am also faithful to those shoes, like these boots, that truly symbolize the places where I've been and proudly show the wear and tear of years and excitement. I know, they are just shoes, but I just might shed a tear over them.