So today I just bought my fourth pair of shoes since starting the trail! And to think I believed that if I had a good pair, they would last me the whole way…
When we left from just north of Canberra, I started out with my good ol’ North face hiking boots. These guys have been with me for class camps on the Bibbulman track, walks in New Zealand, and they got me through the Camino in Spain. I thought they were going to get me through the National Trail.
Alas, when we pulled up in Wallerawang, just a few hundred kilometres from our starting point, my shoes were screaming for help. The sole was had come loose and was flip flapping arund all over the place. Now a spot of glue might’ve done the trick, but when you can see your socks poking out through multiple holes, you know your journey together has come to an end. Sadly, we said our final farewells with much sentimentality, and off I went to Lithgow to find replacements. But not a hiking boot to be seen. I was eventually talked into buying trail runners. And wow. Where have you been all my life, trail runners? They are light but still with heaps of grip, and only $100.
One happy customer was I until 1000km later, when they grip wore out and I didnt trust them going through a steep gorge that I knew was coming up. I had already slipped and slid my way down to Youdale’s Hut in the Kunderang, with many an ungraceful landing, and I was over them.
This time I bought a cheaper pair of trail runners and seeing they have worn out already, this has now led me to the conclusion that for every dollar you spend on walking shoes, you get 10km out of them.
WHY ISN’T Z WEARING RIDING BOOTS?
Because rIding boots are a pain to walk in and she does an awful lot of walking. Lots of the trail is steep and you need decent grip on your shoes, so she wears trail runners.
Because she isnt wearing riding boots, she has stirrup cages on the saddle for safety purposes.
WHAT DOES FLY WEAR ON HIS FEET?
Boots. He wears Renegades every day on his front feet, and backcountry boots on his rear feet every second day. At home I never used back boots on him, but there are a lot of roads along the trail and his feet were just wearing down too fast.
After attending a barefoot trimming workshop with Andrew Bowe and reading some of the literature out there, I decided I would like to keep Fly in boots rather than use horse shoes. Plus, for practical reasons, if he throws a shoe in the bush, I wouldn’t know how to put it back on anyway. Some people will tell you horses shouldnt be in boots every day. However we just had a farrier check his feet and were told they were the best feet he’d ever seen on a thoroughbred. So, so far, so good.
WHAT ABOUT THE DONKEYS?
The donkeys are barefoot and have been the whole way. It took a while for their hooves to toughen up but now they are like little rocks. They never need boots and I rarely have to trim them, as the roads wear them down just enough. This little bit of awesomeness is something I try to remind myself of and be thankful for when they are infuriating me with their stubbornness!