Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Toeing the Line

I don't think I am a minimalist, per say, but I like to keep things simple. Too much gear seems to get in the way of fun - at least for me.  The pile of shoes in my garage, however, would seem to suggest otherwise! And these are shoes that go through active, if not daily, rotation. For example, there are two pairs of Inov8 shoes for trails and road runs, a couple pairs (two sizes!) of the do-everything 5.10 Guide Tennies, a pair of 5.10 trail running shoes (ran the LA Marathon in these), some aging La Sportiva Boulders left over from guiding in the Tetons and Sierra (still holding together with Seam Grip and speedy-stitcher patches), Scarpa Freneys for climbing ice, 2 pairs of 5.10 Anasazis (once again, 2 sizes) for rock climbing, La Sportiva Makalus for spring tromps on snowfields, a pair of Sidi mountain bike shoes that I bought in Italy while mountain biking the Dolomites, a pair of Sidis for the road, some booties for surfing winter swells, LA Dodgers sandals and a pair of mucking boots that I use to photograph birds in our local estuaries. So much for keeping it simple.

At the same time, the goal of being outside and challenging oneself with the endless opportunities of mountains, streams, crags and the ocean is simple. I don't think much about the gear or about what sport I am going to pursue; the conditions decide that for me. Clear, cold and dry? Rock Climbing. Cold rain in the foothills? Head for the mountains to ski. Northwest swell in January? Surfing. All the other times? Running, biking and photography. So, maybe it is simple, or, at least, it is simple enough. I am reminded of a saying by the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho: "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought." In other words, it isn't in the particular sport, it is in the doing. Yup, simple enough.