Oh, the places you went! Saying goodbye to a pair of hiking pants

Sunday, after nearly 2,000 miles of hiking, 200,000 miles of air travel, 7 trips to China (including two to the Tibetan Plateau and two to Thousand Island Lake), river rafting in Costa Rica, zip lining through the rain forest, canyoneering along the Mogollon Rim, and countless trips to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, I finally tore a sizable hole in my hiking pants, the RailRiders Versa-Tac Light. It happened when I tripped on a low lying wire fence while trying to access a portion of Arizona’s best Wild and Scenic River, Fossil Creek. I could probably salvage them, but they are finally starting to get a little thin. Intsead I’m going to let them head to the Great Trailhead in the Sky.

If you’ve read my review on these pants, you know I love them. Most outdoors folks get strangely attached to their gear. I made a lot of memories in these pants, and I am sad to see them go. With that in mind I wanted to do a little retrospective on the memories we made together. Pictures are either of me wearing the pants or taken of me while wearing them.

Oh, the Places You Went!

A poem by Max Wilson (but based on a book by Dr. Seuss, whose estate is full of very nice, kind, attractive people who shouldn’t sue Max into oblivion because he has nothing worth taking except a wonderful son who loves Dr. Suess’ books. You should buy the book. It costs $10-15 and you’ll weep openly the first time you read it to your child.)

Goodbye, old friend!

Today is your day.

We went to great places!

You helped in every way.


We climbed up high mountains.

We hiked up to the sky.

We trudged through muddy rivers,

And there you refused to die.

Your work here is done, and I hope you know

That I knew I could trust you wherever I wanted to go.


We walked the streets of Beijing, got arrested in Qinghai.

I threw you in my luggage, whenever I needed to fly.

But the mountains were always where we were most at home,

We always wanted, always needed to roam.


There were so many trails

That I made you walk down.

So many days

That we spent out of town.


It’s opener there

in the wide open air.


Out there many things can happen,

and they frequently do,

to people who don’t have clothes

as worthwhile as you.


But I always knew,

You would never split at the seems,

And that you would dry quickly,

When I stepped in a stream.





You hiked the Grand Canyon!

Saw the river countless times!

Crossed the Black Bridge,

Covered in mule shit from their lines.


But that never stopped you, though the smell was the worst,

Angie even let us come home, as long as I took you off first,

Wherever we hiked, you were the best.

Whatever new pants came, I chose you over the rest.


I’m sorry to say so

but, sadly, its true,

that Bang-ups,

and Hang-ups,

they happened to you.


You see Arizona

Is full of prickly pear.

I drug you through them

Without even a Care.


You, as well, did not seem to Care.

For although their pokes weren’t all that bad,

My shins still bled,

And that made me Sad.


When you feel Sad

That’s not much fun.

Until you realize how lucky you are

To spend time in the sun.


There were many times we bit off more than we could chew.

But how can you know, when trying something new?

The mountains were calling, and we had to go!

Didn’t you hear them? How could we say no?

Don’t try to resist, instead hike the Canyon in the snow!


But once we were there, should we turn left or right…

or right-and-three quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?

If only we hadn’t forgotten the map!

Then we would know right where we are at!

But we also wouldn’t have a story on tap.


But maps too are dangerous things.

They tell you where to go,

But not what to know.

What direction the rivers flow,

But not what will grow.

Instead, its better that we moved slow…


…and Lord, we moved slow.

Slowly up the canyon walls,

Slowly past the water falls,

Slowly through the customs stalls,

Slowly in the university halls,

Slowly through Shanghai’s malls,

Slowly through the capitals,

Everywhere we moved slow.


But at least we were always moving,

Or working at improving,

Or taking pictures of stars at night,

Or walking towards the next great sight,

Or teaching my baby, Jack,

Or climbing up some far off crack,

We were always moving.



You were made to move!


Somehow you helped me escape,

All the waiting and staying,

To find the bright places,

Where the tree’s leaves are shading.


To creeks that were splish-splashing,

And peaks that were high,

Ready for hail that would fall from the sky,

Ready in case I kicked a cactus with my thigh!


Oh, the places you went! There was fun to be done.

There were hikes to be hiked, canyons to run.

Pictures to take

And leaves to be raked.

Happy! We were happy as happy could be,

Except for that time I drunkenly covered you in pee.


True, I guess, we were also sometimes sad

Especially when we failed at something rad.


I’m afraid that there were

Some lonely days too.

Months spent far away,

With just me and you.

All alone!

Whether we liked it or not.

Alone was something

That we were quite a lot.

And when we were alone, there was a good chance,

That I would see things that would scare me right out of my pants.

There were things that we saw, between hither and yon,

That scared me so much I didn’t want to go on.

But on we went,

Because it was harder to go back,

On we went,

Almost always with a pack,

On we went,

We even saw some yak.

Onward and upward,

Up endless peaks,

Though my legs would get tired,

And my feet often reeked.


On and on we hiked,

And we hiked very far,

We faced up to our problems,

Or at least hit the bar.


We got mixed up, of course,

As you already know.

Mixed up in big things,

When we couldn’t go with the flow.

You helped change the world,

Maybe just a little bit,

By protecting me from poison ivy,

While I did my science trick.

All and all, you never let me down,

Except for the fact you’re too ugly for town.


So, you ask, “Did I succeed?”

Of course! You did everything I could need!

(Other than teaching me to proof read.)





If we should meet at the Great Trailhead in the Sky,

Know that it’s because some other pants let me die.

We went to great places

But today is your day.

Thank you for everything,

Godspeed on your way.


Disclaimer: This post, and all posts on LesserPlaces, may contain affiliate links– links that allow me to receive a small kickback at no additional cost to you when you shop through them. This is how we keep the lights on.


Max Wilson is a graduate student studying ecology at Arizona State University. You can follow him on twitter @maxomillions.

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