I had seen those people before – the ones with the duct taped boots or better yet the people who left their torn up destroyed boots on the trail as an offering to the hiking Gods. I always thought, “What idiots!“, I couldn’t understand how these people could be so horrible at planning. How could they stupidly bring a half ass pair of boots on such a hike? Didn’t they check their equipment before they packed…sheesh!
Now who’s the one wearing the duct tape? Me.
I should have known…they say bad luck comes in threes and I had started this Patagonia Adventure at the emergency room in El Calafate on a Sunday night trying to explain the term “bladder infection” to a doctor who only spoke Spanish. At the time I was close to tears of frustration, but looking back on it I can only laugh at how funny it was for me to explain my illness and pain in charades. Eventually I did get an antibiotic prescription and took off for Torres Del Paine Park for my planned 4 day Patagonia trekking adventure the next day.
We started off hiking the first day of the ‘W trek’ in Torres el Paine. Our first day we went from Ecocamp near the base of Los Torres to Los Cuernos Pass– a simple 11km hike. I stopped to take a picture of a daisy and that’s when I noticed it. My sole on my long time hiking boots were separating from the boot. This was day 1 of 4 solid days of trekking the W – this was not starting off well I thought.
To top it off, upon the instructions of our guide, I hadn’t even packed another pair of shoes for the trek as I was trying to keep the weight for myself and our porter to a minimum. So much for trying to do the ‘right’ thing! I had no other solutions – I had to make this work. Luckily Brian, one of the men in our trekking group, had brought duct tape with him. Duct tape – the traveler’s lifesaver – the everlasting silver bond. The group stopped for a lunch break and I started the ongoing process of duct tapping my boots together in an effort to keep going. After all, I had waited too long to finally make it to Torres Del Paine to give up now. Duct tape would be my new best friend for the next 2 days until we could get back to Ecocamp and work on other solutions.
The next day the sole on my other shoe started to separate and I found that the best way to keep them together was to literally duct tape my foot into the shoe. This meant I had to have a scissors handy to cut myself out of the shoe at the end of the day! With two shoes in need of constant repair, we quickly ran out of duct tape – however my resourceful guide, Claudio, found me a whole roll at the next refugio.
The boots somehow lasted through the French Valley and Grey Glacier portions of the trek and we then we hopped on a ferry to come back to Ecocamp and do the last and most challenging leg of the W trek – Los Torres. When we returned to Ecocamp my shoes were barely held together but Claudio took them from me to see if he could get them fixed. The next morning my boots were delivered to me minus duct tape and the soles in tact. Phillipe, one of resourceful Ecocamp staff, had worked into the wee hours of the night to actually stitch my heels back onto my boots…yes …stitch them. Phillipe ran out of time to stitch the toes back on – so I duct taped the toes up and we started out on our 8 hour trek up to Los Torres.
The boots made it and my bladder infection cleared up – maybe just maybe my bad travel luck was starting to turn around! And what about the bad luck in threes theory? Well – I lost one of my favorite travel scarves in the process of the W trek somewhere. I will consider that the bad luck trifecta – and with that the bad luck streek had ended. Woohoo – things were right again in my travel karma! However I certainly did learn a few lessons from the situation. Check your equipment before you go. Bring an extra pair of shoes when hiking. Always, always, always have a roll of duct tape with you!
Do you travel with duct tape or some other ‘miracle’ product?
By Jodi Henderson February 19, 2013 - 2:03 pm
Hearing about your shoe issues initially caused a reaction in my head of “oh my gosh, I don’t EVER want to go through that”. But then I stop and remember that the “bad luck” moments are the ones that become the good stories later on. 🙂
As for “miracle” products, I haven’t traveled enough to have found the need for anything consistently. Except Kleenex. You never know when you’re gonna have a runny nose or a sneezing fit!
By Ruth February 19, 2013 - 6:37 pm
Wow, those guides were amazing. No, I am not really into bringing “miracle” products on trips and I only travel with two pairs of shoes (sandals and flats). I guess the desire to travel with minimum luggage has contributed to weird moments. Now, I am considering traveling with sturdy shoes after a close encounter with a snake while wearing Tevas. Another time I got a pretty bad cut in one of my knees after a fall and I did’t have shorts. I had to wear a skirt which is not the prefer piece of clothing when climbing ruins or getting in and out of tuk-tuks. So maybe it is time to reconsider what I pack. Glad you finished the trek.
By Stephanie Mayo February 19, 2013 - 8:22 pm
I can totally relate to shoe issues as well as blisters on top of blisters (FUN) so my pack always has duadurm
By Gemma Dunn February 21, 2013 - 2:00 pm
What resourceful guides! So glad the boots got fixed! I’d say your ‘bad luck’ definitely turned around 🙂
By Kaleb February 22, 2013 - 12:53 pm
Wow! Did you keep the boots? That is a treasure!
By Ryan February 22, 2013 - 10:40 pm
Good to see made it through with a smile on your face and a great story. Boots are highly over rated 🙂 But duct tape is definitely a necessity!
By Sherry February 22, 2013 - 10:43 pm
Ha – hilarious coming from you Ryan! I did actually see someone on the W trekking in their bare feet! Hope you are well – It’s lovely to hear from you! Guess what – I”m going to see Michael next week in Frankfurt Germany! A little camino reunion!
By Ryan February 23, 2013 - 8:42 pm
I am doing well. I am trying to figure out a way to do some Camino again this year.
Say Hi to Michael for me. It would be great to see all of you again. Have a drink for me 🙂
By Britany February 26, 2013 - 8:17 pm
Gotta love duct tape! I actually don’t have a roll in my backpack right now but thank you for the reminder! 🙂
By RenegadePilgrim March 1, 2013 - 7:28 am
When I go backpacking in the wildnerness I have a saying, “If I can’t fix it with duct tape or a maxi-pad, I can’t fix it!” I always carry duct tape with me when I travel…either in the backcountry or in a foreign country. It’s one of the most useful items in my pack. 🙂
By Sherry March 1, 2013 - 7:04 pm
A maxi pad…awesome! I can’t imagine the looks I would have just with a maxi pad on my boot! 🙂
By Jaryd Krause March 3, 2013 - 8:31 am
Haha love it! Duct tape the essential travel item everyone should have on the road, along with cable ties. They both work wonders and can pull you out of sticky situations so to speak haha, great blog 🙂
By Nancy April 3, 2013 - 6:35 pm
I see that on a lot of travel blogs — “Include Duct Tape!”. I’m actually going to tote along Gorilla Tape on this next trek (to Turkey). We’ll see…..
By Sherry April 4, 2013 - 2:34 am
What trek are you doing in Turkey? I’m planning the Lycian way in November of this year!
By Noah @ Somewhere Or Bust May 24, 2013 - 2:35 pm
I busted my snowboard boot while tightening my wire laces before hitting theslopes. I had to tape my foot into the boot with Gorilla tape, thanks to an anonymous bearded guy at Killington who traveled smart. I hiked the Tongariro loop in NZ with Britain’s equivalent of a Navy Seal. He told me Duct tape was one of three things in his MEDICAL kit. Haven’t tried Duct tape for treating a bladder infection, but it would have helped you to keep your scarf.
By Sherry May 24, 2013 - 3:09 pm
Good point about the bladder infection…but next time I will most definitely tape my scarf to my bag…:)
By Peter cattell February 28, 2017 - 8:52 am
Cable-ties are another essential for any repair