The Trails of Our Boots

I think most of you have noticed that we take a lot a footsies. Pictures of our shoes in places where we hike.

Many people have wondered why we do that. Well, honestly we don’t know. Partially maybe because we do not like taking selfies. Footsies are somewhat a result of that. Boots were also a big part of the moment when we first came together. In Karhunkierros we noticed that we were wearing the same model from the same brand. Probably the first words I spoke to him were “Hey, nice boots!”

Well, there are quite some of the footsies already. I think it is time to share a timeline of our hiking boots, beginning from Karhunkierros, June 2014.

Boots, Hanwag, Karhunkierros
My boots on their very first long hike. In the last kilometers of Karhunkierros, muddy and protecting a pair of very very tired feet. Waffle was nowhere to be seen here… 
Boots, Doc, lake
September 2014. This might have been the first hiking boot footsie we took together. Karhunkierros was in the past, Facebook had delivered thousands and thousands of messages, causing Waffle to return to Finland. So here we were, hiking through the Seitseminen National Park, close to Tampere. How to make a hiking boot look nice and tiny? Put a bigger one next to it.
Cap Gris Nez, Hiking boots, France
Came December, 2014. I was in Belgium for the very first time and we were planning on a road trip. First we had a little bit of exploring to do in the northern coast of France. Behind us here, is the Cap Gris-Nez. That was an exciting time in my life. I had resigned from my job and soon to be homeless. I had just seen my future home for the first time. Also I had this Waffle, a completely new person I would have to start learning to know better.
Hanwag, Sand, Beach
Ahem. If your boots ever look like this, clean them immediately. Salty sand is a no no. February 2015. I had just found my place in my new home. This was a sunny Sunday and we were visiting Waffles Favorite sandbox, Les Hemmes. It was no wind for buggying, instead we walked across the whole beach, along the sand bank and to the seals. a beautiful day it was. I was excited back then. Is my life gonna be like this from now on? Full of sunshine, nature and the best boyfriend in the world?
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April 2015. We went to Normandy for a long weekend, unplanned and by surprise. We found such beautiful places. A beach I fell in love with and all things made out of goats milk. This trip we almost froze into our sleeping bags and were envious of cows.

May 2015. The first of May came and we went to see our friends in Germany. First we fed ourselves to an alpaca, as you should, when you got to Germany. Our boots took us through a few kilometers of German heather. We stayed in a hay hotel, which was amazingly comfortable. Crossing the country of Luxembourg followed this trip.

Garbh-bheinn, Isle of Skye, climbing
Hey June 2015! After a busy May we took our car and drove across the whole UK. That was an amazing road trip. Made us permanently in love with the islands of Great Britain and taught us many things about how to keep a relationship going strong. You have to, if you are locked up in the same vehicle for three weeks with your better half.  Here we are on the peak of Garbh-bheinn, looking down on the world with the Armenians. The boots had just taken us up a climb of 1200 meters in total, with no trail. We got visited by a raven and our legs felt shaky. That ridge we took down from there back to the sea.
Vosges, Hanwag, Hiking
August 2015. Hautes Vosges in France. That was such an amazing trip. We stayed at the free cabins the are is littered with and crawled up and down the mountains. There were bilberries there as much as we could eat, and cow herds all around the fields. This is a place where I am always happy to return. We had one of our first hikes here too, during our first Christmas road trip. It has a special place in my memory. 
Mt. Olympus, Greece, Hiking
October 2015. Greece. We flew there for a weekend. That was a very very hectic two days. We quickly run up and down the Olympus and then went to Chalkidiki. Here we are on the return journey. Coming down the side of the frozen mountain. Completely soaked and definitely in pain, but relatively happy, both of us. I think this was also one of those places, where our relationship grew stronger. Even if we were in pain, we still keep supporting each other and keep moving on. I love that about us.
Pyrenees, France, Hiking
December 2015. A Christmas road trip as tradition dictates. This time we were in the south of France. And a little bit in Spain too. This picture is from the Pyrenees, close to the Spanish border. It was warmer than ever recorded and we camped out. We had beautiful hikes in the snowy mountains, bathed in a wild hot spring and loved the history and the tiny French mountain villages.
Wales, Hiking, The Black Mountain
May 2016. Oh my god, there is a horrible cap in footsies between December 2015 and this May. This must never happen again! This May we had the lovely opportunity to get to know Wales. What a wonderful place! Yet another reason for us to always return to UK. We still have a few pages unturned in that corner of the world!

Hanwag, Hiking, France

The Grande Finale. Our latest trip to France and hiking the GR120. This was the spot where we took the first French footsie together. This might well be the last footsie we take of Waffles current boots. They are old and in a need of replacement. Quite some kilometers we have walked in these shoes, side by side.

I have the tendency of getting emotionally attached to things. And if you hike a lot, good boots are one of your most important companions. Right after Waffle I would say. These shoes have served well. After all these kilometers I am only a few blisters richer!

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Safety First – Or maybe not

The moments I have felt the least safe, are most somewhat related to horses, and the high probability of sudden injury – or death. 20 years spent in the stables, gets you to plenty of not so safe situations. Trust me on this one.

Well, my horse, Hiksu, she was known for being a bit stubborn and mean, my special one. Sometimes trying to get rid of the rider, or at least scare them so hard, they would not dare to ride her again. Just for fun, apparently.

Sometimes she also got really scared herself. One of these times was, when we were returning home from a short cross country ride. We were approaching the road,  covered in ice. Just as she stepped onto the road, turning towards home, there was a tractor appearing from behind the corner. A particularly noisy tractor, with chains in the tires, for better grip. That noise my dear mare had never heard before, her solution was to panic. Blinding panic.

The direct outcome of that panic was speed. Quite some of it. Hiksu headed away from that tractor, at full gallop, on the icy and slippery road. I could not see anything, thanks to the snow, flying into my eyes, stinging, cold air biting to me cheeks. There might have been cars, or who knows what, coming from the opposite direction. At this point I think I started to get a bit nervous, afraid for the safety of both hers and mine.

She had lost her ears, no matter what I yelled, no reaction followed. She had taken the bit tightly between her teeth. So I basically had no brakes. At one corner I heard one of the shoes flying off. Not that it seemed to be of any interest to Hiksu, we were just slipping a bit more.

Picture from here.

She pushed on for about 5 km, not showing any signs of slowing down. I had lost all hope of getting her listening to me again, and basically just hoped that nothing too bad was lurking behind the next corner, and holding onto the saddle. The only thing to do for me, was to make sure I would not fall off.

Finally there was an uphill, which ate her speed. The tractor was long gone too. She was foaming from sweat. I was shaking out of exhaustion, too. She turned around, head held high, nostrils wide, ears pointing sharply to the direction we had come from. I was genuinely worried what would happen if the tractor would appear again.

I slid down to the ground. and started to lead Hiksu back home on foot. She was still very nervous, taking a good look at every moving thing. I was talking to her, to make her calm down and to focus on me, rather than on a moving leaf. She was not willing to let me walk too far, but kep her head right next to me arm. Except for a couple of nervous jumps and side steps.

That day I almost became religious. I was so happy to get to home safely, I even found the shoe, we dropped off, hanging on a tree. Long walk had relaxed us both and I was feeling extremely tired. After a good brushing and check up, Hiksu stayed at her pile of hey, and I dragged myself to the house. Just giving mom a yelp to let her know, I was home again.

This was not the first, or the last time, Hiksu arranged some excitement to my life, but this must have been one of the scariest.

Safety First

Unexpected guests and a cake

The Daily Prompt this time describes just about the worst night mare a Finn could ever have, in Unexpected Guests.


 

The moment I saw them, just sitting there, munching on that cake. I was furious. It was my cake! For me to munch! In all my anger I went up to them, apologized that I bothered them, and went on to the living room sofa in order to go through the mail I had grabbed from the porch while coming in. Why didn’t the cake munchers pick it up? Huh?! Coming in like that, not bothering even to pick up the mail. Phah!

Mail was mainly rubbish and bills, as always, and the pile was quickly sorted. So I walked back to the dining room. Where a second piece of cake had appeared to the plates. My anger was all but going away. So I asked if either one of them wanted some coffee. Two very assertive nods followed, so I picked my espresso pan and started preparing coffee.

How dare they ask for coffee too!? Who are they? Why did they come to me, out of all people? My personal space and privacy was violated, brutally!

Coffee pot started to rattle and I killed the flame from under it and searched for cups. I asked if they wanted some sugar with the coffee. One nod followed. Maybe milk too? Another nod came from the other side of the table. How dare they demand such service?!

Cups clinked a little when I lay them on the table, and were received with contempt nodding and small smiles of gratitude.  I sat myself to the chair too, after fetching an extra cup of coffee. I pulled the cake plate towards me in a demonstrative manner, -surely they must now notice, that I was not pleased with such surprise guests!- and sliced a thick  piece for myself. There you have it! You invaders!

I heard a slurping sound. Someone was at least enjoying my coffee. And my cake! My cake it should have been. I had planned to spend quite some nice moments with it and my sofa and my TV. Someone was violating the very essence of my lazy afternoon!

“This is number three, right?” The other one asked. I nodded to confirm, and focused back to my cup.

The coffee ran out. I decided to save the cake, took it off the table and stowed it away into the fridge. There! That should teach them how to treat my  privacy! Cake eaters! I heard the coffee cups being dropped into the kitchen sink and someone was also wiping the table. My table! Friendly though it was.

I turned back to the dining table, only to find it empty and clean. No strangers around. From the hallway I heard the sound of a shutting door. Seems that the notorious coffee munchers had left. I hurried to the window, to look out to the street, and see which direction they were walking to. All I saw were two cats sitting on the fence, looking back.

Hmph, cats. I thought, and helped myself for another slice of cake.