In one of my previous posts, I said that hiking didn't require any special gear. Well, that is mostly true, but you can have a better experience if you bring along some essentials. One of them being proper shoes or boots.
Charlie and I *attempted* to take a walk around our neighborhood last night... I use the word "attempt" because most of the sidewalks were covered in ice and we had an interesting time traversing the landscape. The street lamps reflected the icy spots pretty well so we could tell where the dry spots were, but when we got to darker streets, it was nearly impossible to tell what you were walking on. In some spots, we opted to walk in the calf-deep snow on the boulevards because it was safer than skating the sidewalks.
Charlie is a bit of leash-puller, only because she's used to walking towards a destination where I'll let her off-leash to run; she's in a big hurry to get there. I haven't figured out how to explain to her that sometimes we're just walking around the neighborhood and our only destination is home. As a result, I ended up skating behind her a lot. At first, this took me out of my comfort zone and my initial feeling was to be scared from this loss of control; I was at the mercy of my dog! But then a childlike joy took over and it was actually fun! I bent my knees, like you would to go downhill skiing, and just let her pull me. Ahhh... to be ten years old again. Hmmm.
Anyway, getting back to proper shoes. All this "penguin waddling" and stiff posture from trying not to fall on the ice resulted in super-sore leg muscles. Even my toes were sore from gripping the soles of my boots with every step. I started evaluating my boots because my feet have been hurting more than usual after our hikes. I realized that I've had these boots for a few years now (actually probably more like four) and I wear them every day in the winter in addition to mile-long hikes; I love my boots. But I think they've seen better days and probably should retire very soon. I'll be going shopping this weekend to see what boots are left at this end-of-season time. I've been noticing sandals and summer clothes on shelves already so I'm afraid I may have to wait until next fall to find a pair of boots that I like, and that are in my size.