After a grueling first backpacking adventure into the Grand Canyon in 2002 with cheap hiking shoes, I upped the game and got better shoes when I returned in 2003. These became my trusty hiking shoes for the next decade, though I probably only wore them about 3-4 other times.
As my mom and I prepared for our Himalaya trek, I wasn’t worried about my hiking boots, because they were broken in. We spent a week in Kathmandu in simple/comfy Toms and then headed out to Pokhara for the serious stuff. We journeyed via a car through the beautiful valley and stopped midway at Bandipur, a hill town with pretty views. As we started walking around the small town, my right shoe started coming apart. The sole was falling off and rubber was disintegrating before my eyes. Within minutes, I was tripping over it and then the other shoe started splitting in the same way. I left trails of black rubber everywhere I went. This was a disaster. Our trek started first thing the next morning, leaving little time to resolve the issue. If I couldn’t get them fixed, I’d have to buy new shoes at some cheap/knock-off store in Pokhara and surely they’d give me blisters as I broke them in on the trail! So, we arrived in Pokhara in the afternoon, checked into our hotel and met our trekking guide. He walked down with us to the town to rent sleeping bags for our journey and see if we could find a shoe repair place. We stopped at the corner and the guy inspected my shoes. He basically told our guide that it would be difficult, but he would sew the sole onto the shoe. Our guide wasn’t convinced by the quality of his work and said he would recommend buying new shoes.
We walked around and found plenty of backpackers stores with a selection of “The North Face” gear. I went into three stores and found one that had shoes I liked. We didn’t even try to haggle because we were desperate. I just hoped they would be comfy enough to break in on the trail. Sure enough – 4 days of trekking later and I didn’t have one blister!! As disastrous as it seemed to have shoes fall apart the day before a major trek, it would’ve been so much worse had they decided to crumble ON the trek.