Monday, November 1, 2010

A Tribute to Some Really Worn Shoes

I'm not one to pay too much attention to fashion, but when it comes to trekking I am very particular about my shoes. Each person has different things they look for; some want to make sure they have ankle support, or waterproofing- me I want light weight and grip and just about nothing else matters. I met my perfect shoe back in  the middle of 2007 when I discovered GoLite's Spike Tail. Love at first fit. These shoes are exceptionally light, get an excellent grip even on steep wet granite and dried very quickly if you happened to go wading across streams. They were comfortable to boot, making them my favorite shoe I had ever put on my feet.

This is roughly what my shoes looked like when I got them.

I purchased the shoes specifically for my planned ascent of Kilimanjaro and went to work immediately making sure they got broken in on the trail. The shoes not only accompanied me up that very large mountain in Africa, but have since been my default shoes for trekking back in New England and now here in the Himalaya. They were also excellent running shoes, so they got plenty of use running the streets of Kathmandu two or three times a week. Here is a quick list of the places this pair of shoes got me;

Mt. Washington x2 (New Hampshire, USA)
Mt. Adams  (New Hampshire, USA)
Mt. Madison (New Hampshire, USA)
Mt. Jefferson (New Hampshire, USA)
Bald Face Circle Trail x6 (New Hampshire, USA)
Mt. Liberty (New Hampshire, USA)
At least o dozen other mountains and trails in New Hampshire that I'm forgetting.
Mt. Kilimanjaro (Tanzania)
Tamang Heritage Trail (Langtang Region, Nepal)
Annapurna Circuit (Nepal)
Langtang Valley x2 (Nepal)
Gosainkund Lakes and Pass (Nepal)
Helumbu (Nepal)
Gokyo (Nepal)
Everest Base Camp (Nepal)
Running in Kathmandu xLots

So what do a pair of shoes look like after all this abuse?

They've seen a bit of use.

Yeah they are quite destroyed, but after three years of tough use that's about all one could expect. The bottom part of the show was so separated and the inside so worn that water and some sand actually came up through the bottom of the shoe. They held up rather well, but two things really did them in; monsoon trekking and running through the streets of KTM. While the shoes were great for just walking through streams and not retaining heavy water, they just couldn't dry when the air was so constantly damp, and this caused them to start to really break apart. In fact on my last trip through Langtang I was convinced that the soles of one of the shoes would sheer off the rest of the shoe. Running put a ton of wear on the tread, balding it completely in places over time. To get the excellent grip that the shoes have it means using a lighter and more flexible rubber, the downside of this is that it does wear down a bit faster. Considering the terrain these shoes were subjected to, you really can't expect anything else.

So with my shoes dully destroyed I was faced with a very hard dilemma; where to get the kind of shoes that I like now that I'm in Nepal. The fact that GoLite sold out their shoe production to another company also made the prospect of getting the shoes I really did like even more daunting as no one would be ordering replacements, especially out here. So Harilo to the rescue. Found the shoes on Amazon, had them ordered through Harilo and just as I got back from my last trip they were here waiting for me in Kathamndu. In fact since I found one pair so heavily discounted I decided to go ahead and order two, one for trekking, one for running. Here are the new ones;

So note to anyone stuck in Kathmandu looking for new shoes (or anything else for that matter) Harilo can get those things that you aren't willing to just settle for. Otherwise I would have had to wait until next year when Kim goes back to the US for a bit, and as the pictures above prove, these shoes didn't have much left in them. 

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