Wednesday, December 5, 2018

I Keep Telling Myself...

...they're just things.  They're inanimate objects which are easily enough replaced.  Even still, I'm a touch bummed.

See, it's the End-of-an-Era for me.  Last week we ordered replacements for both our beloved tent and my cherished hiking boots in preparation for our journey to Death Valley later this winter.  And the new ones have arrived, driving home the sense of well-that's-a-shame.  Perhaps I should be excited to get new gear, but I'm not.  Not really.  I really liked my old gear.
Scenic Point in Glacier National Park
But, my trusty boots had been glued, stitched, and re-waterproofed to no avail.  The tent screen had been patched in a few different places and both zippers on the rainfly were shot.  We'd already been limited to just one of the two tent doors this year since the first bit the big one last year.  (I suspect the blasting sandstorm on the dunefield was probably a factor in the zipper decline.)  We contacted REI to see about getting a replacement for just the rainfly, but no luck.  Then we looked into having the zippers replaced--it was a task I was not up for personally--but, in the baffling logic of the global economy, buying a whole new tent was cheaper than having the old tent repaired.  So, no more putting off the inevitable.
Backpacking at Wind Cave National Park
Sigh.  I mean, nothing lasts forever.  Not me.  Not high quality outdoor gear.  Not even the mountains.
Storm Point in Yellowstone National Park
Yet I feel a loss as if they were old friends moving away, no longer a component of my future exploits, dreams, and plans.  It strikes me as unreasonable to be so attached to these material goods, but that is the truth of the matter.
Playing on the rocks in Bryce Canyon National Park
For, oh, the things we've done together, the places we've seen!  They've been my adventure companions!  We've been through so much!  (And I don't care how melodramatic that sounds.)
Dusty, dusty boots after a day on the trail in the Grand Canyon
These boots are steeped in healing waters and imbued with the majesty of the earth.  I've rubbed it into the leather purposefully, wanting to carry that essence with me.  I dunked my toes into the dazzling melt water of Grinnell Glacier, baptizing them in the pearlescent pool.  In these boots I've scaled Angel's Landing and descended into the Grand Canyon. I hiked up to my first mountain peak in these boots.  They've been a subtle foundation for so, so, so many memories.  I even wrote a poem about them that remains one of my favorites to this day.

I can't say for certain how long these boots have been traversing the trails with me.  I know I wore them on the Glacier Megavacation--the inaugural Megavacation, I might add--but I'm not sure if I bought them in advance of that trip or what exactly.   All I can remember is that Matt had read solid reviews in Backpaker magazine about them and I think they lived up to it in the 5+ years I've tramped about in them.  I replaced them with the Montara III, the new version of the same boot.  I mean, why would I want something else, as I've loved these so?!  I did immediately note that the toe area has been redesigned.  That was the blow-out point on the previous pair  so hopefully that is an improvement.
Dangling a foot off the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park
The tent we've had even longer than the boots though, again, I am not sure how long.  Our previous tent got decimated by a windstorm--the poles were splintered into a thousand shards--at Fort Peck for a family reunion.  This would have been 2009 or 2010.  So, we've been calling it our home-away-from-home for eight or nine years.
Camping on our friend Hannah's property near Three Forks, Montana.
I could probably put that tent up in my sleep.  I've done is a bajillion times.  Even in the dark.  I can be remarkably quick about it with a rainstorm brewing.
Backpacking at Wind Cave National Park
From music festivals in mountain meadows to oceanside cliffs--in every season of the year--car camping and backpacking--this little abode has kept us safe and cozy.  It held up against blistering sun, every imaginable form of precipitation, wind, sand, and more.  It was our hideout from the worst mosquitoes of recent memory at Nelson Reservoir this summer.  It was our sanctuary in the storms that inevitably come.  We learned that hail and pelting rain make a fairly delightful music as they ping across the taut surface of a tent.   Even in relatively extreme conditions we were never disappointed.

I couldn't begin to recount all the times I got lost in the stars as I drifted off to sleep with the rainfly folded back.  Nor can I adequately describe the palpable silence when waking in the black stillness of the night without even a breeze to shake the trees.  It is something which borders on magical.
Backpacking at Wind Cave National Park
As with the boots we simply bought the new version of our old tent, which also has been slightly redesigned.  The door revamp seems especially promising.
Camping at The Gorge for a three-day Phish run, tent in the background
I didn't throw either the boots or the tent away though, even after all this eulogizing.  Those that know me best probably won't be surprised.  After all, the tent has some very usable outdoor fabric that I intend to upcycle.  Off the cuff I envision stuff sacks, but I will ponder our needs for a while before busting out the scissors.

The boots, well, I know they should be tossed, but I just can't quite let go yet.  They've been downgraded to wear-around-town-on-fair-weather-days status.  I think of it as putting a horse out to pasture, in a podiatric sort of way.  They've been retired.
Old boots, New boots
So, here is to a new era.  New boots.  New tent.  And, as always, new adventures!

3 comments:

  1. Bless your heart...I too will need some new boots soon...maybe in a year or two or 5...we'll see how long I can make these last...so let me know how you like your new ones...vegan hiking boots are so hard to find...and good luck with your new tent too...
    ~Have a lovely day!

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  2. My friend Debra grew a sweet potato vine out of her son's old boot once; it was in front of the house near the garage - utterly charming!

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    1. Thinking outside the box!!! Hooray! Thanks, Lisa. That's a very clever idea...I bet I could do something similarly charming and sentimental! How lovely.

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