Potato Feet

I always thought people who used the word “hike” were pretentious idiots who didn’t want to admit they just went for a walk. I guess when you take a walk for six hours you have enough time to think of a new term that would describe the endurance of such activity.
Fine then, let’s go for a hike. But don’t you think for a moment you could get away with some simple walking shoes for this activity, oh no, must get some proper hiking boots, aerodynamically designed to make the earth a soft mattress as you skip along prairies of páramo land.
There I was, at the bottom of the Imbabura Volcano in my monstrous hiking boots, ready to hike up to 4,610m above sea level with the greatest of ease. Next to me, in a pair of regular sporty shoes was Mr. Wild, lighting up a cig as a warm up for the hike.
Imbabura is neither the tallest, the most difficult nor the volcano with the greatest views in Ecuador, thus it gets little attention from the average hiker. We quickly learned it’s a great place to get pissed off very soon, as the hike begins with a very steep trail through páramo straw (and it is a scientific fact steep walks piss people off). Within the first hour of walking the skin on my ancles rubbed raw against the boots, making every step every bit as agonizing as when you rub your ankles against piece of shit shoes.
I ignored it. “I didn’t come all the way to Ibarra (or Ambato Norte, as Mr. Wild would have it) in my awesome hiking boots to not hike, damn it!”
…four steps later…
“It’s fine, Lorena, just concentrate in the scenery… well, that looks kinda ordinary…”
…one and a half steps later…
Mr. Wild suggested we call it a day, he didn’t want to see me (and probably hear me) suffer all the way to the top.
No way. I am too stubborn for this! We are going up the freaking Imbabura if I have to take these boots off, hang them on my neck and walk the rest of the way in my socks! So I did. The straw hills and squishy mud trails felt fantastic under my now filthy socks. Sure I wanted to complain about the heavy boots around my neck, but Mr. Wild would have probably push me over the cliff.
Once we reached 4,200m the trail turned into a rocky climb. I had to put the boots back on, but this time I improvised cushions with the dirty socks on my ankles. Up we went. We got to the “top”. Well, we pretty much got to the top, but the last little part that lead to it was a pretty tricky climb and the fog made it a bit suicidal, so we had to conform with the “top” that sits a little bit bellow the top.
It was not until about two thirds of the way down, when my knees were shaky from the steep descend and I was getting a little pissed off (steep walk and all) that I began to notice these boots from hell were now attacking a different part of my feet. I could do nothing but to continue walking, thinking of new, creative curse words with every step.
By the time we reached the “refugio” (random house with a little sing stuck to the wall that spelled refugio) and I took the boots off, my feet looked like flaky, deep fried turnovers.
The lesson learned: stilettos and hiking boots have much in common, but stilettos are sexier.


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