During the summer of 2017 we travelled with friends just across the Alberta-British Columbia border to one of the highest peaks in Canada, Mount Robson and to climb the Berg Lake trail.
Lucky those friends came along, because they remembered to bring something we forgot: strong tape.
for whatever one photo is worth:
Good boots are one of the most important pieces of hiking equipment you can own if you are a serious backpacker.
Pictured are not my boots.
They were the boots that belonged to my wife.
And up until they crumbled on the trail they were good boots. They were, in fact, fantastic boots… when she bought them as a teenager nearly twenty years before that hike.
They were even reasonably solid pieces of equipment for the first three days of our adventure, hiking all twenty-some kilometers up the mountain, and then accumulating another twenty or so klicks on the day-hiking trails near the campsite.
The problem with old equipment though is that every day that you use it, more wear and tear accumulates, more seams are exposed to the elements, more aging glues and stitches weaken, and more chances loom for failure.
Her boots failed just as we started our downward hike back towards home.
At the top of the mountain, these boots looked like the good boots they had been for two decades. At the bottom of the mountain I took this photo and then we dropped them in a nearby trash bin.
Every couple of kilometers we would stop and I would sit at my wife’s feet wrapping them as tightly and securely as I could with a borrowed roll of tape. The glue under between the tread and toe had failed and like an ill-timed puppet show, began flapping open like a mouth at with each and every step.
The takeaway lesson of these fall-apart boots was not that equipment fails, but rather that you never know when equipment might fail, and being properly prepared means expecting failure and setting yourself up to avoid or mitigate the negative results of that failure…
…like carrying tape, or not hiking in twenty-year old boots that might fall apart.