Gear review: Scarpa Apex GTX shoes – no pain, no gain
December 16, 2010
Mere hours before heading off on a recent pilgrimage to Moab, I came across a pair of Scarpa Apex GTX hiking shoes while perusing a midvalley shop. I had been looking to replace my well-worn, flimsy $40 Sauconys for some time, and the Scarpas fit all of my criteria: They were lightweight, fit my canoe-shaped feet perfectly and were gray and blue, not a garish shade of yellow or lime green – I don’t like shoes that look like a theater marquee, or that can be seen from space.
The $120 price tag seemed a little steep, but they are made in Italy so I knew they were worth the investment.
Maybe I was a tad overzealous. OK, call it foolish. In my haste to try out my new purchase, I didn’t bother packing any other footwear before heading west.
The trip started innocently enough. I exited I-70 at Cisco and headed down Route 128 before stopping at the Fisher Towers – one of my favorite Utah haunts. Soon, I was scampering across uneven terrain with relative ease, all the while soaking in views of the Colorado River and the snow-capped peaks of the La Sal Range.
The shoes were lightweight, breathable and had an Armor-Lite abrasion-resistant toe treatment that protected my digits from stray rocks. After the roughly 5-mile trek, I was ready to keep going.
Bad idea. I should have known better than to keep pushing it. A mile or so into my hike up Negro Bill Canyon, I started to feel some tenderness on the outside of my big toes.
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A few minutes later, I felt the skin on one of my heels tear.
Each subsequent step was pure agony – the torrential rainstorm that seemingly came out of nowhere did not help. The short jaunt back to the car seemed as long as the Appalachian Trail.
Later, while lounging in the back of my Jeep, I surveyed the damage. Blood caked my socks. Large blisters covered areas from my arches to my toes. My skin bore a striking resemblance to ground beef.
I should have asked the cute cashier at City Market in Moab for her number. Instead, I had her direct me to the Neosporin and the Band-Aids. Classic.
Needless to say, I had to cut my trip short. I still managed to spend a few hours the following day scrambling through the Fiery Furnace and taking photographs at Arches, but I had to abandon my plan to hike the Devil’s Garden loop.
Moments after walking into my apartment, the sandals went on. The Scarpas were tossed into the closet.
They stayed there for about a month, until I decided to give them another chance. This time, I wore them around town and for short trips up Sunnyside and Buttermilk. I even wore them while climbing waterfalls outside Basalt – the Gore-Tex kept my feet dry and the rugged outsoles helped me step confidently.
The Scarpas and I got off on the wrong foot. But now, some months later, I hardly ever take them off.
I’m looking forward to that next trip to Utah and a shot at redemption.
No pain, no gain.