New boots, blisters, beautiful mountains.

A couple of months ago Mitch surprised me with new boots (Asolo Attiva's in violet). I had been complaining about my old stompers (also Asolo's), which were wearing out in the soles and weighed more than a small sheep. He stumbled on a good sale and I got the shoes pictured above, in my favorite color.

Saturday the new hiking boots went for a spin, a really long spin to Commanche Lake and back. I had been of the mind to hike for an hour, find a nice meadow and read for the afternoon; Mitch wanted to take a real hike. And, since we often take hike-and-reads, I thought it was only fair.

Ten minutes into the hike my right heel started to burn. Blister Block provided a few minutes of relief, after which I had a growing padded blister.

Truth be told, I saw the blister as my out. I could have whined my way into a shorter hike; I had the physical evidence. As with knitting and college degrees, I tend to be a finisher. So onward.

Though it's been dry in the Sangres, the wildflowers put on their best. Indian paintbrush, wild roses in the most delicious shades of pink, mountain bluebells and our state's emblamatic columbine helped distract this cranky hiker.

About an hour in, Mitch, who was also rocking new boots, began to feel an incipient blister on his left foot. Not long thereafter, I slipped and skinned my right knee, which given the looks of my legs at this age, did not endear me to the trail.

The guide books would classify this hike as "moderate." And that's exactly what it was, a slow, steady climb up, about four-and-a-half miles. The steep grades were few but so were those long stretches of mountain valley  common to lake hikes in the Sangres. Given a winter of indolence, "relentless," is the word that pops to mind.

As is often the case with hiking, it's a mental trick more than a physical one. Given the climate-controlled environments we live in and our mostly sendentary lives, we are discomfitted by physical discomfort. Cold, heat, strenuous exertion--we do everything we can to shield ourselves from anything that deviates above or below 72 degrees and the fast beating of our hearts.

But when we do that, we miss this:

and this...

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