So further to my indecisiveness yesterday, I actually made a decision today, or I nearly did anyway….
I decided that regardless of when this happens, I have to start walking again at some point, and so went in search of some new boots. I need some new ones that are waterproof and also Goretex lined, so they can cope with walking at 90 degrees in tropical rainforest and also on snow in the extreme cold. My current ratty old boots are great for a Sunday stroll around Dovedale, but will not be up to the challenges that I face ahead of me. I also have crap feet, and suffer badly from blisters any footwear (even flip flops!) that are even vaguely new. I therefore need to get something that I can wear in as soon as possible.
I had seen on someone else’s blog that they had chosen some Meindl Burma GTX boots to walk Kilimanjaro, and had never looked back, as it were. I had also sent an email to Henry Stedman, asking him form some recommendations on boots, and had said that “Meindl, Salomon and Berghaus” were all popular choices at the moment. Now I’ve never heard of Meindl at all, but thought as they came up twice in a row that I should find out some more. Oh and apparently they are German, and I haven’t bought anything bad from Germany ever.
I duly googled both Blacks and Snow & Rock, and finding a Blacks in nearby Oxford, toddled off there for a look. I have always liked Blacks – they seem to have such knowledgeable staff, and I was most certainly not disappointed by my experience here, in fact totally the reverse. I was treated in fact to a hugely educational (but never in an over-salesmanlike sort of way) explanation of various boots by Tim, whom I thanked for his great help. I also tried various pairs on. The ones I liked best were in fact the Meindl Burma GTX, and although I did several double takes and sharp intakes of breath at the price ( a rather hefty £175 I thank you) I decided that these would be the boots for me! I did not however buy them there and then, as I thought I might just see what the price difference was online or elsewhere first.
I also wanted to take the opportunity to see what else they had in Blacks too. I duly told Tim that he’d be “seeing a bit more of me over the coming weeks and months”, as despite the fact that I may well do some online shopping, I do really appreciate good customer service (and my pet hate is the reverse), and so he will definitely be getting the majority of my custom. I know I also need fleeces, overtrousers, daypack, rucksack, sleeping bag, head torch, socks etc. – this could be getting rather expensive!
I asked him about sleeping bags first – I think (not having done enough research yet) that it needs to be able to withstand -25 degrees or so. He said they have some nice down ones which pack up really small, and they looked great. Only draw back was the £150 price tag – yikes! I then asked him about the carry mat that I would need – apparently they are called ‘thermarest’ or something, and I admitted to not having heard of them before. Again he was tremendously helpful, and showed me a Thermarest (for the uninitiated like I was, it is basically a sort of self-inflating plastic mat), which looked great, and was going to be around £75. All of a sudden I had the thought that “I’m going to spend two grand in here and still not get everything I need”, and so I took my leave, thanked him sincerely for his time, and told him that I’d be back, which I will.
Got back home early afternoon and sat in the garden (it is Bank Holiday Monday and the sun is shining beautifully) with a bottle of three of Magners, some ice, and my Henry Stedman book. I had another very helpful email yesterday from Henry whom I had asked all sorts of questions. One of these was about which route he would recommend, and I told him what my criteria were – I wanted either the Rongai or the Machame, and he suggested either the Rongai or the Lemosho. About four hours later, the book is finished (it is outstanding – read it if you are reading this, and no I am not on commission!), and as well as being more inspired than ever, I have decided upon my route! Yes, it is the Lemosho for me, for sure. There were a number of reasons why, but it seems to me overall to offer the best mix of everything, and has a good amount of “climb high, sleep low” (which is supposed to be best for helping to prevent altitude sickness) mixed in. I check the website – there is apparently a Lemosho trip going in February – decision made!
I duly email Henry, and say that I want to do the Lemosho, and tell him that I like these new boots I have seen. It is all seemingly getting a bit closer. It is September tomorrow, and all of a sudden February does not sound very far away at all………..