New Strings?

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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.

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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.

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View from Mount Whitney on the John Muir Trail

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

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