An Ode to Exploding Soles

Exploding Soles Boots
Exploding soles are real my friends.

Funny note about duct tape: one time a pair of hiking boots exploded while I happily hiked in Sequoia National Park.  This happened a few years after my big 10-day backpacking trip.  The first blowout happened in the sole of my boot’s heel.  I thought I stepped in a hole of quicksand, but when I kept stepping into a squishy hole with each step, I figured out something wasn’t right.

I looked down at the bottom of my foot and hanging tread greeted me with a smile.  Oh, look, I can see a stiffener inside looking like a tongue hanging out.

“Hi there little fella,” I said to it.

“Who you talkin too?” my husband asked.

I flapped a smile to him via waving my booted foot in the air.

“Oh.  Oops,” he laughed at my wretched boot and me (or vice versa).

I high tailed it to my duct tape and wrapped my foot up like a mummy.  I left a little tape just in case.  You never know when case will appear.  When my other boot blasted apart (blew out), I looked and upon inspection, the sole under my toes sagged down greeting me with another wicked smile.

“How rude,” I told it straight to its face.

I used every scrap of duct tape between my husband and me.   This didn’t last long because the sole kept peeling loose.  Or did the duct tape burst apart?  Either way, the flopping sole kept tripping me, so in a fit of disgust, I finished him off and ripped the last half of my sole out.

It was as harsh as it sounds.  Although, it didn’t hurt even though it sounds like it should have.  The next lop sided steps I took felt like so:  step onto ragged sharp rocks in precious ballerina shoe, take next step which is one and half inches higher into squishy sole flopping hole, and then take next step down one and half inches lower onto rigid ripping rocks in delicate ballerina shoe.  It was unbearable.  So, I slapped the dirty sole in my hand back on my ballerina slipper and wrapped the pathetically failing dirt embedded duct tape around my boot as best as I could.

The relief from this half-assed repair lasted 20 feet until I tripped on a sole hanging halfway off my other boot.  I tried walking ½ a mile with this flip-flop contraption high stepping like a trained white Russian show horse.  It was awful.  I was no show horse.  I didn’t have training in fancy knee raising techniques like show off champions did.  Then the tape on the other boot began to fail and I had to high step like a Russian show horse on display in the ring with both feet.  I know there’s a name for that march, but I can’t think of it.

To his credit, my husband didn’t laugh, mock, point, nor make fun of me.  Too bad, he missed his chance because it was darn funny.  Instead, he patiently waited each time I needed to stop and re-adjust my sole.  I wouldn’t have held it against him if he did crack a few or many soul wrenching jokes because it’s pretty crack-a-doodle looking at it from the outside.

I begged each person we passed, “Hi.  Please, do you have any duct tape I can beg off you?”, bending my knee and holding my leg up as high as I could in the air so they could get a good looksee at my injured sole hanging halfway off my boot with the saddest clown face ever seen.  The boot with the sole’s face, not mine.

“I ran out of duct tape,” I added, trying to show that I did do some preparation, but just not enough.  My blowout disgraced me.  It slowed me down.

“Well how old are your boots?” my patient partner asked.

“Not that old,” I replied.  Then, as I hiked, I got to thinking about my boots.  All my boots.  And when I purchased each pair.  And if I switched my first pair with my newest pair, and, “Oh No I Didn’t!  These are 24 years old!”  I exclaimed in genuine surprise.

“Crikey!  I thought I grabbed my newest pair, but I think I grabbed my oldest pair.”

“Well she-it,” I drawled.

“I think they did pretty good for 24 years,” he smiled at me!  Innocently.

Exploding soles are real my friends.   They happen to hiking boots and they make for a spectacular band name too.

Lessons learned: 

1) Keep track of the age and miles on your dang boots.

2) Don’t go on a long hike in your old high mileage boots.

3) Take way more duct tape than you think you could possibly need plus a little extra for friends and strangers.

4) Learn from my misery, I mean mistakes.

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