After delaying two weeks, the trip was on again. A time of joy and sadness. 23 years since my first ever backpacking trip which included a climb of South Sister: solo, as most have been. 20 years since Jean, Hilary and I did it as a family when Jean was 40 and Hilary was only 10. Two decades gone by in a flash. In a heartbeat, really...
The climb began by camping just above that tiny lake, the little blue oval that the toe of my boot is pointing to. Moraine Lake is about 4,000 feet below at 6450 feet above sea level. Once again, my faithful Danner hunter/hiker boots have carried me to the summit in exactly 4 hours. Now all they have to do is carry me back down--which they did in exactly 2 hours.
The boots have been on every hike and climb for over 23 years. On every snowshoe backpack and winter camping trip. Alone in the snow of Crater Lake in January. On countless miles in the Columbia Gorge. They have stood on Mt. Hood, camped and hiked in Canada, Alaska and New Zealand, been above the Arctic Circle. They have flown many miles to many states, survived Nebraska blizzards and dug us out of deep winter snows and ice storms here in Portland. They have been all over Washington, DC for a Veterans Day journey of healing.
The boots have been rebuilt by the Danner factory once, repaired by Danner once, and repaired several times by me when Danner wouldn't work on them again. They will not reach the summit of South Sister again unless some other soul is willing to spend some time on them. I doubt I will ask. The counters are completely shot, the left arch support has come loose.
I think that soon I will buy a new pair of Danner boots, as similar to the ones below as I can find. I thought about buying new ones for this trip, but I wouldn't subject new boots to the dust, pumice and cinders of South Sister. We'll have to get to know each other much better first.
So long, faithful friends! You've served me extremely well. If my next pair of Danners last me 23 years, I'll be 85. God willing, I'll be able to make them look a little bit like this pair.
This is how the Danners look after being dusted. Three times.
Beauty is not always synonymous with smooth, wrinkle-free skin. Sometimes it comes with the wrinkles and patina of a quarter century of faithful service and life together. The Danners were made right here, within walking distance of our house--as most things we buy and use should be.
Beauty comes with the sights, sounds and adventures beyond words. All here in God's creation.
Thank you, Danners! You're beautiful. Amen.