Don’t Panic

When faced with a footwear decision between 12-year old L.L. Bean hiking boots covered in cobwebs, potentially fermenting in your closet or your comfy Nike tennis shoes you’ve already broken in because you wear them for other athletic excursions—I think it’s obvious what any logical person would choose before going on a 2.4-mile hike up a mountain. I was so close to putting on my Nikes, but then my husband began lamenting how sneakers don’t really support your ankles properly. Forget sneakers, dust off hiking boots. I grabbed wool socks, too, because everyone knows cotton does really bad things to sweaty hikers (the sexual advances are so unsettling). Plus, I figured if I were to do this hike right, I might as well look the part.

Hiking boots. Check. Backpack with winter clothing for the top. Check. Band-aids. Check. Water bottle and high-powered snacks. Kind of check. Do veggie wraps and nuts count? Anyway, let’s just say, “Check, check, and double check” for our mental list of items to bring up a mountain so we don’t die. With the survival requirements essentially fulfilled, off we went! The day was so clear and beautiful, with just about 0% humidity that we set off at a quick pace.

Camel’s Hump is a terrific day hike. It’s challenging, peaceful, semi-secluded, and the only way up to the top is to well, walk. It makes the experience of seeing the world span below you so rewarding when you know that everyone up there had to work for it just the same. This also means that once you’re up there, you have to get down the same way you came. So, let’s say if something happens to your shoes, like they totally fall apart as you climb, then you kind of have to make do somehow.

Broken Boots

I’ll cut to the chase. My shoes fell apart on Camel’s Hump. I would like to believe it had to do with the fact that I was hiking in such an aggressive and awesome manner that my boots couldn’t contain my fiery feet and I practically burned a hole through my soles. Yes, if I had the X-gene, this could easily be explained with a straight face. Alas, with no superhuman or even circus freak abilities, I had to chalk it up to old boots and a heavy stride. About 20 minutes from the top, my husband notes with some slight alarm, “Wow darling, the heel on your boot is coming off!” And then about 10 minutes later, “Wow, the heel on your other boot is coming off, too!” And about 5 minutes from the apex, I sit down to assess the situation and find that indeed, my boots are crumbling right before my eyes. I would have to tread lightly. But then I remembered that I had a survival kit in my backpack given to me by my sister- and brother-in-law. It’s kind of a gag gift because the contents are housed in a sardine can. However, I figured there could be something useful in there. The kit does say survival. Aha! Duck tape. Yes, that could work.

Now, if you are familiar with a sardine can, you might just be thinking to yourself, “There couldn’t possibly be enough duck tape in a sardine can to be useful.” True, very true. There was a mere 2″ x 1″ rectangle, which could only be useful if you wanted to show someone what a piece of duck tape looked like. At that moment, I gave up. I began to panic. I started eying passers by to see if they just so happened to be carrying tool kits. No such luck. Only 0.3 miles from the tippity-top, the best part of the journey, I was so ready to turn back defeated. You win this time, Camel’s Hump!

But no, I had some sense in me yet. And let’s be honest here. I’m a Drobny. We don’t give up, especially when our pride is at stake. I will have to say that my husband knows how to motivate me. Tip-toeing to the peak, I made it in one piece, with shoes still on my feet in some form or fashion. We sat, ate our picnic lunch and reflected. I still had to get back down and hadn’t figured out what to do about my deteriorating boots. And then the brilliance came to me while taking photos with my iPhone. Oh Apple, you even have an app for inspiration. My boots have exceptionally long shoe laces! So much so, that I used to wonder why the heck L.L. Bean made them so. For this very reason? I undid my laces and lashed them around the bottom of my feet and tied them back at the top. This would ensure that my soles stayed affixed to the bottom of my feet, despite their eagerness to depart.

Broken Boots Fixed

Very pleased with myself and my shear genius, we made it down to the bottom, soles and all. I did lose bits and pieces of my shoe along the way. My sister kept track and would hand me some rotting rubber to pocket, but for the most part, the way down was easy going.

I have to say, anytime I have a near-death experience, I figure it’s time to pause and reflect on what I’m doing with my life and ask the question, “Do I have the tendency to overreact and panic in situations where simple fixes like calling a cab or downloading an app are not an option?” Yes, yes I do. This is due to my reliance on an overabundance of gadgets and gizmos aplenty. I also like to be prepared. Or feign preparation.

Okay and yes, the worst that could have happened was I trek down the mountain in wool socks or (shock!) bare feet. I am quite happy with the fact that I resolved this issue quite simply, with very little help from additional technology and the absence of blisters. My panic was short lived and I made it to the top to enjoy the view and make it back down with a story to tell.