26 Miles out of the Box
I promise I tried, I tried very hard to find the time to break in my new Hoka Kaha hikers before going on a backpacking trip. I got the Kahas two months ago and after the unboxing I was excited to try them out after all of the positive reviews I’ve heard about Hoka One One and their lineup of products. But then came the fateful soccer game that put everything on hold.
I truly enjoy assistant coaching my son’s soccer team! Helping nine and 10 year olds develop their skills and knowledge of the game and then watching their improvement each week is a lot of fun for me. At the end of each season, we play a half hour scrimmage where it’s the kids vs. the parents and the kids always enjoy beating us. Last scrimmage, I was taking the ball downfield and went to pivot and pass to the middle and POP, I went down. My left knee just gave out, popping in and out and I knew I was done for. The next day I could barely put any weight on it and it swelled up to three times the size it was supposed to be.
Three Doctor visits and a MRI later, it was determined that I had a 3 mm tear in my meniscus and needed surgery. I told my Dr. that in a month and a half I had a backpacking/fly fishing trip planned and was it possible to push out the surgery and if it was even possible for me to hike. He gave me a shot of cortisone and told me to do some light stretching and working the leg out and to have fun and let him know if I made it.
While my Kahas sat in a box in the corner of the room, I was icing my knee and working on the elliptical trying to strengthen my leg enough to make the trip. My friends Tom and Shawn were going with me and I really didn’t want to cancel on them so I was doing everything I could to make it. When the time came to leave, I was definitely not 100% but figured I had to give it a go and see how well I was going to do.
Day 1 started early in the morning with the plan being to hike to a lake four miles from the trailhead with the last half mile or so being off trail bushwhacking since there’s no trail to the lake. Lacing up my Kaha hikers for the first time, strapping my knee brace on and putting my 50 lb. pack on my back, I was as ready as I was going to be for this five-day trip into the Colorado backcountry.
Tom was leading the charge up the trail and I was going to take it slower than I would normally hike and stay behind him. Shawn unfortunately wasn’t able to make the whole trip and would be coming in on his own the following day. The first mile was a gradual climb up the valley meandering through tall pines that followed the stream and even though I was a bit slower, everything was going better than I had expected. I did start to have a hot spot at the ball of my left foot, started to worry a bit that my feet wouldn’t hold up with brand new boots and that I would have to deal with blisters the whole trip. Fortunately and miraculously, after about 10 minutes the hot spot disappeared and the hike was business as usual, putting one foot in front of the other without issue.
After a little more than a mile and a half, the trail turned and headed up another valley that is a bit more of an incline with a more rocky terrain. Slow and steady wins the race and after an hour we made it to the area where we would have to leave the trail and head off-trail for a half mile bushwhack to the lake we were going to base camp at.
Making it to our camping destination was a huge relief! Before the trip started, my goal was to at least make it to our camp. If I could just make it there, I would have two options. Either my knee would be killing me and I would stay there and hope it got better. Or my knee would hold up and I would be able to do the rest of the hiking we had planned for the trip. Thankfully it was the latter and that I would be able to do everything that was on our list for the five days we were going to be there!
In total we hiked 26 miles, roughly five of those were off-trail bushwhacking. We fished three lakes that are in the area and caught some amazing cutthroat trout and even a couple of golden trout thrown into the mix. That whole time, five days, 26 miles over boulders and rocks and through streams…my Kahas handled everything perfectly! Not a single blister, not a single time when I had to re-tie or adjust them. I’m amazed and thankful that I was able to take them straight out of the box and have them handle every challenge flawlessly for five days.