I learned something important this week:
My hiking boots will not do for the long haul.
Friday morning I set out under optimistic blue skies on a 22 km hike down the beach, between Paraparaumu and Pukerua Bay. An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.7 notwithstanding, it was a perfect morning. But for the low rumble and the red coast guard helicopter that leapt instantly into the blue, I’d have never known anything was amiss, in spite of the fact that the epicenter was within sight, in the Cook Strait, between the coast I wandered and the distant alps of the South Island, rising like grey ghosts from the distant sea.
It was a good walk. Seabirds wheeled overhead and shore birds with bright red legs and eyes with a long plover-like beak to match mined for something tasty beneath the sand on the receding tide. I passed children laughing and digging big holes while their parents lounged on the driftwood and sipped something hot out of paper cups. Old women walked in pairs, pumping their arms as they hurried along their customary exercise routes. A couple in their mid-fifties walked, hand in hand, with a dog between them. A young man ran, as young men are wont to do… towards or away from something, who can say?
It’s a bit demoralizing to walk for five hours (I wasn’t in a hurry) only to find that the return journey, by train, takes exactly 17 minutes.
That was Friday. Today is Sunday.
Yesterday I spent, barefoot, cleaning the house, preparing a big meal for our returning hosts, and getting the camper all kitted out for the next leg of our expedition.
Which means that this morning was the first time I put my boots back on.
I have long been a loyal wearer of Merrill shoes. Not because they sponsor us or anything, but because they FIT my weird feet. I have one middle toe that is longer than the others, and my size ten feet are narrow at the heel and wide at the top. Merrills just fit. However, they’re also more than double the North American price on this side of the world, so I settled on a pair of Kathmandu hiking boots, a Kiwi brand that is a bit more reasonable. I regret it, profoundly. They are well broken in, having been purchased in early March, and hiked all over the South Island for months. But never more than about 10 km in a day. Twenty two isn’t ridiculous, but it’s too much for my feet in these boots.
I have blisters on both feet. My left foot is the worst, with a 2×1 cm blister on the side of my big toe and a really nasty blood blister that is raising under my baby toenail, threatening to pry it right off of my foot. My baby toe is swollen like a sausage. The tips of my toes (on both feet) are so sore to the touch that I can barely stand socks. This is a solid 48 hours AFTER the end of my walk. Not good.
I’m a walker. Long wanders for necessity and leisure are not new to me. These boots, however, are, and they’re harshin’ on my mellow. I’m staring down a big walk in about 11 months. My friend and I are going to bang out 500 miles along the Camino de Santiago in Spain during the month of June. I thought these boots would be my well worn friends by then. Clearly, not.
First stop when we get to North America: Merrill Store.
Oh, by the way, that’s the other news: we’re ticketed for North America: November 5 we’ll fly to Hawaii. November 12, to Vancouver… and overland from there for a few months!