Yesterday marked the final leg of an epic journey for two of my most loyal companions. These two friends have seen me through journeys far and wide and know me better than anyone. They have arguably saved my life on numerous occasions, clinging to rocks and gripping slabs none other could handle. Through hundreds of miles and 12 countries, my old Asolo boots always kept me on the right path.
On Sunday, retired these two faithful friends and allow another to carry the banner. As I was busy planning my four day Golden Week vacation around hiking, the sad shape of my boots begged an alternative. The laces broken, spent vibram soles worn smooth across the planet, seriously scuffed leather, and the fraying seams on high wear points around the lacing all cried out for relief. Could the boots have taken me through a few more short trips? Absolutely. They never disappointed, failure not being in their soles. But having seen prouder days, finer moments, and better aromas, their days wore thin. Better to be put to pasture with dignity and class.
The very real possibility of hiking the Colorado Trail this autumn also dictates a new pair of shoes. A proper period of introduction, taming and breaking in necessitates that this monumental transition occurs sooner rather than later. At the Wild-1 Outdoor Life Store in Koriyama, I procured a new pair of Garmont's Men's Montana GTX boots. Designed for backpacking and light mountaineering, the new boots will have big shoes to fill, so to speak, but so far seem up to the task. Enormously comfortable, the new shoes may require less breaking time than I thought. With the form fitting arch-support insoles, the new boots fit my feet like a glove. They also performed well on the store's inclined walk-up thingy for boot testing. I'm optimistic. Materials are also very similar to my Asolos, and hint at the durability I require. After extended wear that day, both indoors and outdoors, I also discovered they are warmer than expected.
So, in a ceremony set to take place at a yet to be determined location in the Japanese wilderness, my Asolo's will be committed to the fire, and dispersed from the summit of Mt. Bandai, in the near future.
Here are some highlights from my "Asolo period":
- Summit of Mt. Whitney, high point of California and the Lower 48 States. At 14,505 feet (4,421 meters), this was the highest elevation ever achieved.
- The summit of Mt. Elbert, high point of Colorado at 14,440 feet(4,401 m).
- Ularu, also known as Ayer's Rock in Australia.
- Rim to Rim via Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon in 5.5 hours.
- Mt. Fuji, the Highest mountain in Japan at 12,388 ft (3,776 m). We walked above the clouds in blue skies the whole time.
- Countless trips to the summit of Humphrey's Peak in the Kachina Peaks wilderness of Northern Arizona. Also the Arizona high point at 12,637 ft (3,852 m).
- 50 miles through Utah's Grand Gulch Primitive Area with my father and the Hansons.