Yosemite Boots

My boots came in the mail yesterday. The boots I hiked Yosemite in.

After we left the park, we found a post office and stopped and mailed a box home to ourselves hoping to lighten our suitcases and avoid paying the $50 extra for an overweight bag. (It worked, too.)

I slit the box top, opened the cardboard flaps and immediately got a whiff of the hot brown dirt of California.  My boots, new for the this trip, still looked new, but were dirty and dusty and there were a few little stones still lodged  in their vibram soles.

Somebody once told me: “Where you leave shoes, you can return.”

It was a German woman named Marlise.  We both attended retreats regularly at Springwater.  I’d leave the retreat and drive 3 hours home.  She’d leave the retreat and fly home to Germany.

She always left her hiking books in the shoe room at Springwater with a note taped to each toe.  On the left boot the note said: “Marlise knows.”  On the right boot it said, “she’s coming back.”

It was always heart-wrenching to leave Springwater for everyone, but especially for the people who lived far away, like Marlise.  When she got to Germany, she would tell her friends, “Of course I’ll go back; I left my boots there!  I have to!

My new Vasque boots cost me about $140.  It would have been hard to leave them in Yosemite to insure my return.  (Plus, I can really use them around here.)  But I’m thinking now I should have left something there to insure my return.

But what?

And where could I have left it?

Anything I might have left would surely have been picked up by someone and either taken or discarded.  So I mailed my shoes home, along with some  books and my toiletries.

But when I saw those boots in that box yesterday–check that–when I smelled those boots, I longed to be back on the Panorama Trail, listening to the crunch of crushed granite underfoot, smelling the sugar pines and the hot rocks, hearing the distant crash of a thunderous waterfall.

I’d say I left my heart in Yosemite if it didn’t sound so cheesey. And what does it even mean to say you left “your heart” someplace?

Everyone has had that experience, though: loving a place so much you feel a part of you stays there even when your physical body leaves it.  I left no thing in Yosemite that someone might see and say, like they said of Marlise’s boots, “Oh, they’re Marlise’s.  She’ll be back for them.”

But even though I didn’t leave my shoes in Yosemite, my feet definitely know their way back there.