Imagine my chagrin as I'm gearing up at the trailhead and discovering I have no shoes or boots. As someone that adventures almost 100 times each year you'd think I'd have it down by now. Maybe even have a checklist that looks like this:
Everything else that comes after the thing that makes hiking actually possible: check
Not this time. I'd forgotten boots (at least) once before, but had gone back to get them. That had added only eight miles to my drive. Going back now would add 35 miles to the drive and I'd wind up bailing entirely.
So... sandals. Keens actually. With socks. And gaiters. I'm nothing if not classy.
I figured I'd hike about as far as I could in my sandals and then limp back to the car while the others finished the trip. (This was a TNAB so I wasn't alone.) Although I was quickly outpaced by Martin, Treen and I were doing remarkably well given my footwear so we kept climbing. This shouldn't have been surprising since the trail to the base of Red Mountain is pretty duffy through the Commonwealth Basin.
However, Red is one of the few peaks that TNAB recommends the use of a helmet. That's because the final climb is covered in loose rock that tends to bound down the steep slope. So I complemented my sandals/socks/gaiters with a helmet to complete the look. I won't say the Keens were flawless on the class three scramble, but they did pretty well.
About half way up Bear arrived, much to Treen's delight. (Bear's a TNAB dog, though I'm sure if a bear had showed up Treen would have been thrilled.) Far below us Matt called for Bear, but he was now part of our pack and continued up with us. Martin passed us on the way down so we had the summit to ourselves for a few minutes until Matt topped out.
One of the great things about Red Mountain is that although it looks like just another peak when seen from its neighbors it actually feels like a real, epic climb when you're standing on the summit. The sheer drop off the back side and the steep, rocky slope you just climbed cry out for respect it won't ever get. (The fact that Verizon provides LTE coverage sufficient for making FaceTime calls does't help either.)
The views were great, but cut short by the time. I was adamant about getting off the rock before dark. Although the Keens had done well in getting me to the top, I didn't want to test them in the dark on the way down. We made it to the bottom of the rocks with plenty of time to spare and no falls or loss of traction.
This trip was supposed to be about giving the Deuter Guide 35+ a real test. Instead, that will have to wait because the star of the night was my Keens. (Technically, they're Keen Newport H2 Adventure Sandals. (Amazon affiliate links support moosefish.com.) Well, they should be called "Adventure Sandals," but they're actually just regular old "Sandals.")
My toes were protected by the solid toe cap and the lacing system kept the sandals on my feet even as I climbed the rocks at the end. There aren't deep lugs for traction, but the modest siping kept me from slipping around. I'm gratified to know these sandals are capable of more than I've used them for. I bet I could even strap crampons to them if I needed to. Hopefully, I'll remember my boots when the snow comes.