Travelling lesson 264: Never hire hiking boots

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The glaciar descending from majestic Mount Fitzroy

“Do you want to try them out around town a little bit before you head off?” says the shop assistant.

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A hiker who made it back in a very different condition to when he left

I decline the offer, assuming, as always, that everything will be okay.

Unfortunately being a generally optimistic person isn’t always a good thing…

Sophie and I had decided to hire hiking boots ahead of our nine-hour trek to Mount Fitzroy base camp for different reasons.

Her faithful foot soldiers had decided to turn on her during our 80km trek to Machu Picchu, carrying out an unrelenting attack which caused both her big toenails to fall off.

My desire to put on some fresh footwear came from a fear that my well-worn, well-glued, well… pungent trainers would not survive a full day’s trek.

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Sophie in front of crystal clear waters

And so the following day we set off at 7am taking in a picturesque path which runs runs parallel to a beautiful glaciar-backed river.

It doesn’t take long (about 15 minutes) for Sophie’s old feet demons to make an unwelcome return and some angry-looking blisters begin to appear.

Thankfully she has come well-prepared and is able to make a quick transition into her much less sturdy, but much more comfortable Converse trainers.

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Mount Fitzroy rises up behind a glaciar and a jewel-coloured lake

Disaster averted, we continue on to a forested area containing a small tent village.

It is here, at basecamp, that properly kitted out climbers rest up before they begin their ascent up the steep, snowy edge of Mount Fitzroy.

We are not ready for such an epic challenge, but we do push on far enough to make it to  a viewpoint which provides a famous picture of the stunning Mount Fitzroy fronted by an emerald green lake.

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Re-boosting depleted energy levels

It’s cold and windy, but we find shelter behind a big rock and take the opportunity to recharge the batteries by munching on some sandwiches.

Then the weather takes a turn for the worst and the majestic Mount turns into fuzzy Fitzroy as the mist tumbles over it and the biting sleet whips across our faces.

Time to descend. Rapidly. Unfortunately the downhill jog seems to instigate a fight between my feet and my boots which results in some colossal blisters.

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Not a happy hiker…

Sadly I haven’t brought my tried and trusted trainers with me and so for the next six hours Sophie has to put up with walking next to someone who looks like they are taking their first steps down the hospital ward after undergoing a hip replacement operation.

As my pace slows I begin to be passed by fellow walkers.

Firstly by couples out on a brisk walk, then by people taking a gentle stroll and finally by small children who can barely put one foot in front of the other.

Eventually several hours later than originally planned we make it back to our home base of El Chaltén.

As I take my boots off to finally relieve the pressure from my feet, the shop assistant sees the anguished expression on my face and realises I’ve not found the footwear particularly comfortable.

She can’t resist: “Perhaps you should have tried them out before you left for the trek…”

I nod begrudgingly, before breaking into a smile of pleasure as I catch a whiff of my well-worn, well-glued, well-pungent, but well-comfortable trainers

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My faithful old trainers: Wrecked in every way, but at least they don’t give me blisters

About travellingtoothbrushes

We are a couple of journalists with restless toothbrushes. Our teeth scrubbers seem unable to leap out of their respective washbags to take up a permanent residency on the bathroom shelf. So, we've decided to let them live the way they want to and take them on a trip around South America...
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