In all the planning Dad put into our first trek across the Sawtooth Mountains, one thing he made sure to do was think of footwear. We kids were outfitted with the popular Converse “tennis shoes” of the time, a modern cobbler’s approach to canvas uppers on rubber souls. Being heavier, Dad got himself a good pair of stout leather hiking boots.
Brand new stout leather hiking boots.
Half way through the first day of the walk from Atlanta to Alturas Lake there were blisters coming up on Dad’s heals. Some extra padding helped but the blisters were not to be abated.
By Alturas Lake Dad had blisters inside of the first blisters, including some on toes. I remember them being popped to make room for his foot to get back in the boots.
Well, folks, there are no cobblers or shoe stores at Alturas Lake, so the walk back to Atlanta was faced with the knowledge more skin would be rubbed raw in the future. And it was.
Meanwhile we kids were prancing about in our thin canvas shoes with nary so much as a red splotch to show for it.
I’m not sure if those boots found the nearest trash can when we got back to Atlanta or not, but my dad was not one to toss out anything that had any life left in it. There is a photo from hiking in the Sawtooths the next year that has him wading barefoot in a creek while holding a pair of boots that look similar.
One thing I do know — he never again wore new footwear of any kind when taking off on a mountain trail. And I’m pretty sure he considered an extra pair of very comfortable shoes worth packing along just in case.