Not the most stylish shoe, but essential for hiking.

Following on yesterday’s post, here’s some tips on what gear you need for a big hike like this:

No question about it, your most essential item of gear when planning an expedition like climbing Kili, is a good pair of hiking boots. When I impulsively agreed to join the ORT team, the executive component of my brain that is supposed to evaluate the consequences of my actions was clearly somewhere else – probably taking a hike. Within hours of my introductory meeting with the team leader, I had bought my first ever pair of hiking boots. The whole expedition bypassed my brain circuits and went straight to my credit card – or wherever else it is that impulsive and reckless decisions reside.

I was so excited to try them out that when I wore them on my initial excursion up and down the Westcliffe stairs, the significant bruising around both ankles – those boots are extremely heavy –was an unwelcome and unanticipated surprise. Undeterred, I gamely tied them on for a hike in Suikerbosrand. This resulted in two blistered and bleeding heels which required Silbecore wound cream, Comfeel dressings and walking around in Ipanemas – which was slightly uncomfortable seeing as the weather chose to hover around 13°C. Three weeks later I could walk without limping and fit my feet back into socks and closed shoes. I refuse, however to be cowed. Ever more determined by the beating my footwear have given me, I make a promise to tame my boots. They will walk me up Kili. I think about them sitting in my cupboard. They crouch, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting tender areas of feet. I send a mental smirk their way. I will bring them to heel and when I do, nothing will stop me as I climb.

Top tips for choosing your hiking boots:

1) Choose your hiking boots with as much care as you choose your everyday footwear. Drifters offer superb service and their staff are both knowledgeable and patient.

2)  Buy the right socks to protect your feet (again, Drifters)

3)  Learn how to tie them to avoid ankle bruising (yes… Drifters)

4)  Break your boots in – do this by hiking with a pair of extra socks and your most comfortable takkies in your back-pack, just in case. Do not, as we had been advised by someone with more free-floating testosterone than actual hiking experience, drive over them with your car.

5)     Happy trails

By Tali Frankel