I was musing today on the pair of running shoes you see in the photograph above. The breathed their last (with me in them at any rate) in Zermatt, Zwitzerland. Poised in the firs under the peaks of the Alps for a final portrait, and left behind in retirement, having done their last. What shoes. Demoted to mere gardening clogs after the prerequisite number of miles had been accumulated in them on my hometown streets, surely having lost all cushion and structure in the workouts that took them through two seasons. Yet, when it came to packing a travel pair of runners for Europe, for my workouts, for runs along the Dutch canals, the streets of villages and towns along the Rhine river - even the infamous "Bridge Too Far" which for a good workout, turned out to not be far enough - I picked my old Brooks runners.
They were perfect for the job. Squished into a suitcase, stuffed with socks and a deodorant stick, left under the bed, dried out after a sudden summer rain. And then, they faced up the Alps and in them I climbed the dream of a dream, and conquered Gonergrat. A mere straight up 5000' foot elevation gain to over 10,000' - scrambling above the tree-line. Nose in the clouds, high in the glaciers, blown by wind. Those shoes climbed the alpine trails, scrambled rockfall, waded through glacier melt and wild waterfalls, held sure on cliff sides and broken rock, and too many sheer rock faces. One relentless determined step after another. No blisters, no wet feet, no ankle twists, nothing but an ache in my footbed that admitted the cushioning was truly shot and I would certainly feel this terrain the next day.
My shoes were happy to ride down from the peak propped up on the seat on a cog wheel train. Happy to be pulled off and tossed by the side of the tub I soaked my spent, sore muscles in. Dignified, they poised in the Alps for their final Buck List shot. They did it, we did it. Shoes and master. Adieu.
(I left them in the closet of a room in the Alex Hotel. Has someone taken them up, laced them on for their next adventure? Living the life of Swiss chocolate and fresh mountain air? Hope so!)