Eulogy to my Hiking Boots

August 26, 2013

Backpacking, Hiking, Poetry

Hiking Boots

The time has come for me to live and you to die and we both know which is best. Your waxed form never again to face the thudding Sierra nor the blistering desert. Never again to feel the living earth nor the hellish hail.

My friends, your wizened and cracked faces bring comfort, but a strong spirit and weak flesh go only so far. Every mark a story, every scar a battle. Your scuffs are my life’s highlights, your scratches seared memories. My hand caresses your skin no less gently than a lover, for the texture of your skin is the texture of my life. Your laces bound our flesh as one. Fitted in action, we were one as only one could be.

Together we have faced down ursus and serpens and sapiens, together we have bouldered and shouldered, ambled and scrambled. Rest in peace my friends, we have walked the good walk.

(Please note that posts and comments will be somewhat sporadic during the summer as travel plans interfere with writing schedules.)


“There’s man all over for you, blaming on his boots the fault of his feet.”  Samuel Beckett

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About Malcolm Greenhill

Malcolm Greenhill is President of Sterling Futures, a fee-based financial advisory firm, based in San Francisco. I write about wealth related issues in the broadest sense of the word. When I am not writing, reading, working and spending time with family, I try to spend as much time as possible backpacking in the wilderness.

View all posts by Malcolm Greenhill


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29 Comments on “Eulogy to my Hiking Boots”

  1. Michael Denny Says:

    Rest in Peace


  2. unfetteredbs Says:

    Loved your tribute.


  3. Duncan Says:

    Excellent post. I have felt this way about boots that I have had to throw away. I’ve went so far as to keep a pair that were well past their useful life for years because I couldn’t bear to part with them. lol


    • Malcolm Greenhill Says:

      Duncan thank you. I’m actually having some second thoughts and thinking that perhaps I can transition them into retirement gradually, using them on small hikes when I know the weather will be benign and that a worn tread will not make much of a difference. As a financial planner I know that transitioning into retirement is a ‘hot’ subject 🙂


  4. Daniela Says:

    This is a wonderful, heart-felt tribute … my favorite lines: ‘My hand caresses your skin no less gently than a lover, for the texture of your skin is the texture of my life. Your laces bound our flesh as one. Fitted in action, we were one as only one could be.’ Truly beautiful. And Samuel Beckett’s quote so apt.

    Best Wishes,


  5. becwillmylife Says:

    What a sad, sad day retiring your beloved hiking boots. Are you overwhelmed at the prospect of finding the replacement pair? I hate that part.


  6. Michele Seminara Says:

    And so they should! Have a wonderful summer…


  7. Ishaiya Says:

    I wonder if every hardened hiker has a photo of their old walking boots? I know I have one of my last pair. Although I never had the heart to part with them completely, so they get used as my gardening boots when I have heavy digging to do. I think my very first pair of walking boots which had seen me across the breadth of Spain in amongst other adventures had been disposed of surreptitiously by my partner. I wouldn’t have been able to do it myself… your boots are your best friends when you’re out in the wild!


    • Malcolm Greenhill Says:

      Thank you Ishaiya. It’s interesting how we can get attached to the most ridiculous inanimate objects. I still have the old metal tape measure that my father was particularly fond of and would carry about even where there was not the remotest need to do so. Hiking boots of course, are a completely different matter because, as you say, they “are your best friends when you’re out in the wild”, and it is easier to become attached to things one depends on. As I told Duncan on another comment, I am also losing my nerve and will, perhaps, transition the boots into retirement.


      • Ishaiya Says:

        Don’t feel that just because they have served their purpose as faithful hiking friends that they need to be tossed out. There is much to be said for objects serving sentimental purposes in their retirement years 😉


  8. Hanne T. Fisker Says:

    I can relate to this 🙂


  9. scottishmomus Says:

    I could relate to this, though not because of the boots. I did ‘eulogy to a van’ recently. It’s that sense of something that has been a companion and is now having to move on. Touching.x


  10. Kavita Joshi Says:

    awe that reminds me of my shoes that are with me for two years and I love them other than my backpack for travelling nearly anywhere…I can understand how you feel I guess


  11. Holistic Wayfarer Says:

    I’m having trouble finding an old beautiful post of yours on the mountains, nature, and health.

    Something for any climbing injuries you might sustain: whatis

    They should have classes in the SF area. I loved the Alexander Technique, the other movement modality I tried when I came out to CA. Fendelkrais has helped people all over the world heal and stay active safely and mindfully. If you happen to find a practitioner who is also a physical therapist, you could see if s/he would bill your insurance.

    Take good care, MG.


    • Malcolm Greenhill Says:

      That was very thoughtful of you HW. I recently read a wonderful book on how the brain heals itself and there was an entire chapter on Moshe Feldenkrais and his remarkable life and work. I particularly liked how he learned from judo and jiu-jitsu and then was able to give back to improve these disciplines. I would love to study the Feldenkrais and Alexander methods but we have only so much time in the world. I have a very old friend in England who was a serious student of The Alexander Technique but I only learned this after remarking on her wonderful posture when she walked or was sitting down.

      I am not sure which beautiful post you are referring to as so many of my posts are works of art 🙂 Maybe you are referring to this one, my very first post:


      • Holistic Wayfarer Says:

        That’s funny bc I just read

        in which the author culls studies just like the one you read about. Time is no reason to forgo something like FK of all things. What’s wonderful and unique about AT and FK is how the training sets out to wean you to independent mindfulness. Even well-meaning chiropractors and naturopaths require ongoing visits; we depend on them for maintenance. FK is such a good investment of time bc you walk away with lessons to apply throughout the day, the more of which you do the more independently you can cultivate and maintain wellness. And they are moves you incorporate in the everyday.


        • Malcolm Greenhill Says:

          Thank you for the warm hearted prompting. I completely agree with you but I still don’t have the time just as you don’t have the time to bake your scrumptious cake pops 🙂 The book sounds like something you could write rather than something you could learn much from but the reviews were gushing which is promising.

        • Holistic Wayfarer Says:

          I’m discovering there is always time for cake pops and brownies. =) (Am I learning to live?) T and I baked this evening, science and history memory work in the background, and I made him spit out the bite he couldn’t resist just now before bed so he doesn’t mess with his digestion. In any case, apart from FK or any advice from moi you will know how to take care of yourself. Be well, MG. =)

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