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January 8, 2011

Hiking the Red Rock Spires of Bryce Canyon


I recently headed off on a much-needed vacation to the red rock spires in Bryce Canyon, Utah. I had 3 goals in mind: to hike, hike, and then hike some more.

My only problem was a pair of much-loved, but VERY old hiking boots. I had covered a lot of ground in those boots, but they had been battering my feet with blisters and deadened toenails for almost a year. A few weeks before I left, I went to my local REI store, and with the help of an extremely knowledgeable salesperson, I decided on a pair of Renegade GTX LOWA boots.

An impossible work schedule left me no opportunity to break them in before my trip. So, when I got to Bryce, I decided to start out kind of slow. My first hike would be the Rim Trail ~ about 5 1/2 miles of beautiful red rock scenery and no big elevation change.

I started out on a cool, sunny walk but half way down the trail, the weather took a turn for the worse and it began to hail. Rain gear kept me going for a little while, but when the storm worsened I joined a group of people taking refuge under a rock overhang. While we waited out the storm, they told me of a short three-mile loop down into the canyon. I may have been a little wet, but my feet were dry and happy in my new LOWA's. So, once the storm had passed, I decided to check out the canyon loop.

Weather changes very quickly in Southern Utah. Minutes after we had been pummeled with hail, the sun came out and stayed out for the duration of the three-mile loop. I thought my troubles were over. But, as I regained the rim, I saw lightning on the other side of the canyon. I was about three miles from my car — and my only protection from the storm. Within minutes, it began hailing again. Thunder and lightning closed in around me and I started running for the car. Let me tell you, it's hard enough to run at an elevation of 8500 feet, but try it sometime in thick, red mud! Flashes of lightning were only seconds apart from the thunder, and, I was surrounded by massive lightning rods, called "trees." Forget the mud, forget the elevation, I ran faster and faster.

By the time I reached my car, my lungs were practically bursting. But, you know what? I was unharmed and my feet were dry and warm. Even better, after eight miles in those new hiking boots, I didn't have a blister, a pinch, a numb toe or any sort of foot pain!

I LOVE MY LOWAS!

Best regards,
Sarah S.

P.S. I first recounted this story as I was hiking with my best buddy in the San Gabriel Mountains. She told me her brother had bought her a pair of hiking boots at REI and they were the best boots she had ever put on her feet. I looked down. Yup. They were LOWA's.


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