Last winter's boots - Scarpa SL M3 - held up fairly well for their 3,000 miles/4,600 kms of rocky mountains and sandy deserts. The two weak points are somewhat resolvable. Firstly, the lack of cushion in the insole made for overly tender feet. While my feet generally always recovered by morning, by the end of the daily marathons, they ached pathetically. To resolve this, I conferred with the ever-helpful guys at The Custom Foot on South Broadway in Englewood, Colorado and got semi-custom fitted Sidas insoles designed actually for running but meeting my needs for repeated impact cushioning and arch support. The difference was noticeable immediately. I have great confidence that my feet will be happier. I hope they'll last as long as the boots.
The second weakness of the Scarpa boots last pilgrimage was that the heels wore more than the rest of the boots. I had anticipated this and carried new Vibram heels with me, supplied by the old world cobbler at Phelps Shoe Repair, to replace the worn heels when necessary. Necessity reared its head somewhere in the Egyptian Sahara, but no where could I find someone with the skills and machinery required to do the job either in Egypt or in Israel. With new heels, I'm sure I could get at least another 1,000 miles out of the boots.
|Two right feet: 3,000 miles (top), new (bottom)|
Part of my standard kit has always been Teva sandals that I've used as shower shoes, eveningwear, and house slippers in addition to water shoes when fording streams and rivers. They dry quickly, soothe my aching feet after the long booted day's walk and allow me to more comfortably totter around villages or monasteries in the occasional hours between the walk and sleep.
My recent experience on the pilgrimage to Chimayo has introduced Abeo hiking sandals into my modis operandi. They held up remarkably well during the break-in period and the 350-mile/550-km mountainous and desert-ous walk. Their featherlight weight, openness and coolness made the miles a pleasure to walk. The mid soles compressed a bit for the wear and the lugged tread of the outer sole wore completely down, but The Walking Company, who owns the proprietary brand, replaced them for me gratis and they'll serve as my second shoes for the big walk serving the same function as the Teva's have, but with greater form-fittedness and arch support. They may better serve me as the primary walking shoes through the jungles of Central America than the heavy leather boots...