I'm no Carrie Bradshaw. I cannot justify (nor afford) spending hundreds of dollars to decorate my feet.
Or, can I?
Earlier this week I joined the Tramping Club. Don't worry, it's not what you think! Tramping is code word for hiking. The membership fee for the year is $30 and for an additional $80 I can go to Paradise (near the Routeburn Track) with them. To me, $110 sounded like a budget friendly way to see a spectacular part of the world. But, I soon found out that tramping can get expensive real quick.
At the meeting to sign up for the Paradise trip each leader described the trail they would hike. Some were easy, some were moderate, and one was described as "hardcore". I thought I'd pick a hike that would be just hard enough to earn a Snickers along the way, but wouldn't require fancy schmancy tramping gear. So, I got in line to hike up Conical Hill - a moderate hike. Little did I know the guy leading the hike only had six magical slips of pink paper for each person hiking with him (we had to have a pink slip for the hike we wanted to go on). I was seventh in line. Darn it!
Plan B was another moderate hike being lead by a guy who I have nicknamed "Frodo" for no other reason than he looked elfish (I have never seen Lord of the Rings, so my nicknaming may be quite off). Interestingly, he had a head full of curly blond hair, a 'fro if you will, which struck me as funny after I nicknamed him. Frodo had a nerdy vibe to him... he had thick black plastic eyeglasses and I imagine he had a pocket protector hiding under his flannel shirt. I pictured him calculating how wind speed and direction would affect our hiking performance.
Unfortunately, after I started chatting with him about the hike, I discovered he was lacking a certain social skill that I can't quite put a finger on. This worried me.
I ditched Frodo to head to the line for the hike with two spunky, smiley blond girls. They were leading the easiest of hikes (more of a walk) and I figured at the very least it wouldn't be the most awkward 8-9 hours of my life. Just as I was about to receive the magical pink slip, I got elbowed out of the way and it was snatched out of one blond's hand (I believe this is karma biting me in the a$$ because several years ago I elbowed a competitor out of the way during a running race so that I could beat her by a full second-that glorious victory was worth it though!).
I asked the president of the group if she could make an announcement to the hike leaders for them to let us know who still had room left on their hike. Turns out it was either Fun with Frodo or the hardcore hike. If I survived an Ironman, I can survive 14 hours of rough terrain, right? Someone, who shall remain nameless, made a snide remark about the differences between an Ironman and tramping - this got me a little fired up. Guess I'd have to show someone just how physically/mentally fit I am.
Please don't let there be really high things that I have to walk across!!
I inquired about the hardcore hike... I'd need gaitors to protect my shins from prickly plants and good tramping boots. Both items are available for hire from the University's recreation center, but the idea of tramping in someone else's foot sweat was unsettling. I'd need to go shopping.
It took a while to recover from sticker shock when I first laid eyes on the boot prices. $200 for the cheapest boot they had? My god! Other boot prices ran higher - $300 to $400!! It was time to find a store more in my price range. Off to Kmart I went. But, alas, they had nothing. I checked out Kathmandu, received great help from a guy there and found better prices (still, about $200 for a pair of boots).
Eventually, I ended up at Mountain Designs. I don't know if it was being beaten down by the fact that I had trekked all over Dunedin for four hours just to discover that I was going to have to part with several hundred dollars or the fact that the girl at the store took pity on me when I said, "I need tramping boots that no one will make fun of" that lead to me walking out with a new pair of boots, Merino socks and Merino leggings.
Nevertheless, I am now equipped to tramp like a champ.