New Strings?


My Keens weren’t allowed inside the Jeep until after a good airing out.

I knew this day would come. These shoes that accompanied me for so many miles were reaching their limits. How could we part?

I was surprised by the sense of loss I felt. Where does this strange emotional attachment to two ugly shoes come from? When I slip into my old Keens, suddenly I’m on the trail and memories of past hikes come to mind much easier.

Thankfully this attachment to things is limited. Limited in that I don’t feel an attachment to vehicles, pocket knives or typical items of clothing, but shoes are different.

I visited one of my favorite outfitters with my worn out shoes in tow. Placing them on the floor, I asked the salesperson for the same shoe or anything similar with a wide toe box.


The next morning I eagerly slipped into my new shoes and headed to my home trail just down the road. Every step felt fresh and bouncy. Those who play a stringed instrument will identify with what I was feeling. When you get new strings, there’s a richer resonance to the sound. While walking along, I thought of a bluegrass song by Ricky Skaggs, “Brand New Strings.”

My Keens* served me well on the John Muir Trail and many other trips before and since. They were with Hiker-dog for every step of writing Five Star Trails: The Ozarks. They took me every step of the 210-mile John Muir Trail from Tuolumne Meadows to Whitney Portal.

So, do I dispose of these old shoes? No way! They’ll take on the task of holding memories of the miles we hiked, the friends we made, and the beauty we’ve seen.


View from Mount Whitney on the John Muir Trail

* This is not an endorsement of Keen shoes. Wear what fits.

One thought on “New Strings?

  1. Pingback: Best of 2017 OzarkMountainHiker | Ozarkmountainhiker

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