Baby Steps

A look down at one of my Merrell waterproof hiking shoes as I stand next to the water of Cave Creek on the Spur Cross Trail at Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area in Cave Creek, Arizona in January 2020

For a while now I haven’t ventured out to parks I haven’t visited a number of times, partly because I like getting to know an area over time but also because I was trying to limit the number of new things in my life after a couple of years of significant change. I took a few days off at Christmas and decided to take some baby steps with my free time, finally visiting a couple of county parks I hadn’t been to yet and getting an annual pass. One park was the babiest of steps as I accessed it from a trail I hike all the time. I was back at work the next week but had New Year’s Day off, planning to sleep in and be well rested for the remainder of the work week. However as has happened multiple times recently, I woke up early and couldn’t get to sleep so I headed up to visit a third county park near here, Spur Cross Ranch.

I could hardly believe my eyes but for the first time since I left Oregon I saw running water on the trails! I first crossed Cottonwood Creek, which was such a trickle I hopped over it, but Cave Creek was flowing like an honest-to-goodness creek. I decided to commemorate the occasion with a picture of my hiking shoe next to the water, a rather poignant moment for me as I bought these waterproof shoes right before my team got laid off a couple of years ago and thus never had a chance to use them in the wet of the Pacific Northwest. I’ve worn them on occasion here but they have been in regular use this winter and did great on a couple of recent hikes where it poured rain.

Some reminders of my former home in my new home, I’ve been beyond blessed to be able to live in such beautiful places.

Commuting Gear

Commuting Gear

Continuing on the yellow theme, I recently had to shift my beloved orange New Balance running shoes to dog park status as the fabric was starting to tear. I like having bright shoes to make me more visible as I walk to and from the train so I replaced them straightaway with a pair of bright yellow sneakers, as this seems to be their current bright color of choice. Sitting between my feet is my Tom Bihn ID messenger bag with its lovely aubergine front, keeping my MacBook and iPad safe and secure as I ride the MAX to work.

My Kicks

My orange New Balance running shoes

We had a sunny day on Friday so while I was taking pictures on the way home from work, I took a quick picture of my favorite pair of shoes, orange New Balance trail runners that are coming out of winter hibernation and returning to the regular rotation. I picked them up a couple of years ago after I returned to commuting by train and wanted to be more visible as I walk to and from the station or around town. The sun was low in the sky when I took the picture, and I in shade, but you can get a glimpse of how visible they are in low contrast light that causes human vision to stumble. I love everything about the shoes and should have bought a handful when I realized how much I liked them so I could store them in the closet and have a supply for years to come.

I was walking Ellie a couple of weeks ago on one of her long morning weekend walks when I felt the sole break in my other favorite pair of shoes, a black pair of New Balance trail runners from four years ago (a different style), finally succumbing after years of steady use. I stepped carefully for the rest of the walk and thankfully they held together enough that I didn’t have to cut her walk short. I sadly placed them in the trashcan when we got home, thankful for the years of use, they started out as shoes for summer hiking but I loved them so much they became one of my main shoes until they started to show signs of wear and were relegated to dog walking the past year or so.

New Hedgehogs

Our dog Ellie's toy hedgehog sitting on top of my North Face Hedgehog III hiking shoes

I needed new hiking shoes and when I saw that The North Face had a model named Hedgehogs, I took this as a sign from God. The problem with signs, though, is how to interpret them. Was this a sign that they would bring me as much happiness as Ellie’s hedgehogs bring her? Or a sign that she would chew my Hedgehogs as mercilessly as she chews hers?

Ever the optimist I gambled on the former and so far, so good. I’m still breaking them in, REI didn’t have them in my normal size of 9.5 but half a size larger seems to be working OK. I wore them outside for the first time today on our evening walk, I’ll probably give them more of a workout in the Gorge this weekend to see how they do on hills. Plus I need to ease my body back into hiking if I’m going to take a big hiking trip late this month as I usually do.