After an extended period of involuntary separation, followed by a long and winding journey – from Europe, via New York and Washington, DC – they found their way back to me. I was thrilled and relieved to embrace them once again. Pardon my exuberance for the inanimate, but I’m referring here to my hiking boots.
I’d stashed my Lowas at a friends’ home in Berlin when I set off to Asia (Part II) nearly 2 years ago. It was the middle of December 2008, and I was heading out into the unknown once again. I couldn’t imagine shlepping them along into tropical climes, more conducive to my lightweight Birkenstocks than heavy, goretex-lined boots.
But then again, how would they fare left behind while I was soaking up days’ worth of sunshine and pushing dust during rough travels through the rocky terrain of Burma, Cambodia and beyond? (Alas, I never reached the ‘beyond’ part… yet.)
Together with the boots, I’d stored a suitcase, sleeping bag, down jacket and tote bag with clothes, an old digital camera, maps, sneakers, socks and a guidebook to Moscow. There were a few surprises when I unpacked the bags today, objets trouvés I’d completely forgotten about – like a mini notebook; one of many I’d filled up during my travels, into which I scribbled synopses of observations and anecdotes which were to be transcribed into a book… one day.
I unpacked a black jacket that I’d purchased at a store in Ulaan Baatar, onto which I’d sewn the embroidered emblem of Mongolia’s flag. The Nepali insignia has been waiting patiently to be added onto the front; now it can be done. I found a few deeply creased shirts, a crumpled baseball cap, a purse and 3 pairs of heavy wool socks. And imagine my relief when I found a wallet full of euros – no doubt signaling my intention to return.
However, by far the most prized possession of the whole lot was the pair of hiking boots that I’d bought just weeks before I first headed to Asia. They carried me through all of northeastern Thailand; through the deepest, most remote parts of Laos; across the highlands of Vietnam and the Gobi of Mongolia; and most challenging of all, up and over some of the highest and most spectacular of Himalayan peaks. They were loyal companions, those Lowas, providing not only structure and comfort, but always, sure footing.
Welcome back old chums, I’ve missed you so.