Last week I took a day off from work to do something I love to do, but haven’t really had much time for since having kids – HIKING! This post may not be 100% survival on-topic, but it’s not entirely off-topic, either.
Now that the kids are a little older I’m finding it easier to get back into the mountains. I miss it. The last hike I went on was a short hike with my wife about 6 weeks ago. Prior to that it was about a year and a half before I did a winter overnight. Prior to that it was a few years. Getting back to hiking this time around I had to re-learn a few lessons.
First off, my Limmer Hiking Boots, made next door in New Hampshire, had reached their limit after 15 years of hard use. The sole wasn’t what it used to be and water would start to creep in around the base of the boot. After my six-week-ago hike with my wife, I knew it was time to send them for repairs. I snapped a pic before I packed them up for shipping.
The price on these things will knock your wool socks off. About 15 years ago I paid $275.00 for them. They’re now selling for $330.00. Ouch! But then again, they’ve lasted through 15 years of serious use! My feet are semi-flat and I like ankle support. I can step on the edge of a rock with these things and my foot will step still feels solid. The repair was going to cost me $95.00 and I asked the guy if I should just use that money toward a new pair of boots, and he said, “A customer once told me that he wished his body was like his pair of boots, becoming more comfortable with age.” That was enough for me. When I broke these boots in it was painful, heels bleeding on my first overnight hike. The thought of going through that again didn’t help sell me on a new pair, particularly when it was either $95.00 for renewed comfort or $330.00 for new discomfort.
When the boots came back 4.5 weeks later, I had to get out. I did a solo hike up Saddleback Mountain along the Appalachian Trail. The trip from parking lot to peak was 5.1 miles, making for a 10.2 mile day. The hiking guide book says the climb will take 3 hours and 45 minutes. I didn’t time myself, but I’m pretty sure I beat that time going up. I didn’t stop. Mosquitoes were rather nasty below treeline, they were like my personal trainers, saying “if you stop we’ll eat you alive.” I’m usually fast going up, but it’s coming down a mountain that I’m usually the last. Descent hurts my knees and I have to take time.
Here are random lessons I learned or re-learned, some survival related, others not:
- Every time I hear someone quite unfamiliar with preparedness say “I’ll head for the mountains WTSHTF” I have to laugh. Unless they’re talking about a fully equipped mountain retreat, they’ll be the first to die. You need a ton of provisions and you have to be in excellent shape, and even then, how long would you last sitting on the side of a mountain?
- I should have taken my shorts that zip into pants. I knew it’d be a warm day, so I just took shorts. After the mosquitoes started chewing me up if I paused, I wished I’d brought the thin pant legs that go with the shorts.
- The hike was physically less painful than I thought it would be given how long it’d been since I’d gone on a hike like this. What helped was working out with free weights in my basement for the past few months. My legs were not in total shock, and fortunately, my cardiovascular condition still seems fine even thought I don’t do enough to feed it.
- What surprised me was that my day pack had caused serious trapezius muscle pain by the end of the day. Sure I’d put extra, unnecessary weight in it, but it wasn’t outrageously heavy by any means. The muscle on one side bound up and I had a visible-in-the-mirror muscle knot. It hurt. Trying to do a 3-5 day bug out with one of those would’ve sucked. I self-massaged it and my wife helped, but that only went so far.
Here is a boot’s eye view of the summit, note the new soles on the repaired Limmers:
That’s the best $95.00 boot repair. Ever.
– Ranger Man