Tired Soles

I can locate the holes in my shoes by the presence of desert-red dust stains on my formerly-white socks. Slipping them off for my umpteenth time, I wonder how many more days I can coax from them. The structure is more Seam Grip than original rubber, and the foam along my heels has long since worn to nothing or been warped by the heat of too-close campfires. They’re starting to fit just perfectly.

It’s funny how we develop these emotional attachments to inanimate objects. One friend refuses to rock climb without his particular Orange Alien cam, a specimen so worn down and fallen-on, that it fits spaces too small for its original dimensions. So is it the cam he likes, or the memory of hundreds of past adventures? And am I reluctant to trash my foul-smelling shoes because I really want to wrangle one more alpine trip out them? Or am I just afraid to divorce myself from all that they’ve carried me through?

I bought the shoes from La Sportiva’s clearance rack, 20 months ago when I lived in Bellingham, worked for McNett, and still thought those people with blogs were nothing but hopeless narcissists. (Hey, some things don’t change). I’ve paid about $1.20 per month-of-use. And they haven’t exactly been sitting in my closet. The cost per pitch would likely be measured in fractions of pennies. I’m not sure if they were marketed as Running shoes, Hiking shoes, Approach Shoes, or just the good old around-town variety that everyone keeps handy. They’ve served these purposes and more.

They’ve waded Zion streams with Kurt, and tackled Rocky Mountain linkups with Kelly, they’ve tramped up to Cerro Torre with Jon, and pounded the streets of Alaska with Jason. And their soggy and icy forms held my numb toes during an unforgettable night with Sol and Jens.

But they’ve also been there to play volleyball at one wedding (my own) and to run 15 miles into Stehekin for the wedding of my friends Chelsea and JB. They remind me of how much change I’ve witnessed since their purchase, both in my life, and in the lives of those close to me. And the thought of getting rid of them makes me miss the times before these changes.

So I’ll dig the tube of Seam Grip out of or freezer and go to work, hoping to keep the shoes alive for just a little bit longer. I’m just not sure exactly what it is I’m preserving…


  1. Today is the first time I've ever come across the blog of Blake. I enjoyed your narrative about your shoes, dude. I agree, shoes are pretty amazing... they are intimate friends that are always there, doing anything we ask. Then like a tragic case of rejection, we toss them out of our lives. Oh what poetry shoes would write...

  2. Hey, thanks for the kind words! Glad you liked my little story. How did you stumble across it?