Walking the Pacific Crest Trail was one of the best things I have done in my life – second only to walking the Te Araroa, and both of those hikes were accomplished in one calendar year!
btw, I just turned 55, and that’s a pretty cool feat…feet?…for a middle aged gal, wouldn’t you say? I’m feeling mildly bad ass.
Oddly enough, Richard pointed out that it took me two years to plan for my walk in New Zealand, while under the meltdown circumstances upon my return to Minnesota last spring, it took me less than two weeks to plan the PCT! I guess a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
Backpacking: An extended form of hiking in which people carry double the amount of gear they need for half the distance they planned to go in twice the time it should take.
The Blissful Hiker does it: packed weight under 15 pounds!
Her packed weight (weight minus water, food and fuel which is called variable weight) for five months on the Te Araroa is under 15 pounds and she’s still taking professional audio gear. Praise the ultralight gods, and all my engineering pals at Minnesota Public Radio.
What do you get when you cross the speed, flexibility, the ability to stop on a dime and the wicking properties of the your favorite mountain running shoe with the ruggedness, stability and protection of those leather hiking boots you haven’t wanted to give up just yet? You’d get shoes that rock the long trails and my first choice for thru-hiking, La Sportiva’s Akyra Trail Runners.
The Akyra uses a complex “origami” design to keep the foot stable, while also allowing the foot to feel flexible and supple. The shoe is like a solid box with a bomber heel cup keeping me from over-pronating. Torsional strength is especially key when I contour overland on steep terrain.
The top layer is in three parts including a skeleton, mesh and a wrap that provides lateral stability when negotiating roots, rocks and sand.
The cushioned tongue holds easily adjusted laces and place no pressure on the top of the foot, which is crucial as my toes are slightly deformed from arthritis. And this may seem like a small point, but these laces have never needed to be retied mid-hike.
The Akyra is ideal for backpacking especially in mountain environments because the soles are made of a sticky rubber – much like approach shoes – that adhere to rock, even if wet. Using a tight pattern, the lugs provides superb traction at the same time they shed mud and clagg. My friend Stephanie took these photos and said the soles looked like mini-shovels displacing the sand as I cracked up and downhill.
La Sportiva uses a patented brake system that not only gives me confidence on slopes, but decreases impact and that’s a relief for those day-after-days walking on uneven terrain.
Sizing was a bit of a concern and the shoe feels a bit long and narrow, though I was able to find a good fit playing with the laces. I always wear men’s trail runners these days to allow room for my feet to swell. I did not keep the included foam insole but rather replaced them with Superfeet.