You’re never more than an inch from success and failure on Kilimanjaro; we’re talking about footwear of course.

That inch of rubber and leather between your feet and the mountain is critical for the trek. Luckily, your trip doesn’t have to fall to pieces if your hiking boots do.

Two of our most popular stories during Porter Appreciation Week explained how porters hand-stitched a couple of trekkers’ boots back together to help them summit.

Dennis Martin Smith

At Rongai Caves Camp, as a porter and I were trying to remove the day’s dust, we noticed the soles of my boots were coming apart. I had been wearing my hiking boots for a number of years without any problems and did all my pre-Kili training wearing the boots.

I attempted my own rescue by applying the standard duct tape around the soles, which didn’t work that well because of all the dirt and dust—real bummer. But then came the porters to save the day!

Evidently the porters had been talking about how my boots were falling apart. As it happens, they have had some experience with trekking boots (no surprise). So here come a couple of porters to look at my boots. Without hesitation they say they will repair the boots. I’m thinking, “How?”

To my surprise they had a complete repair kit with a needle and some type of string, as well as soap to help the needle go through the leather and rubber soles. I watched in amazement at Halid Mohamed’s skills and the speed at which the repairs were taking place. Before I knew it, I looked up and my boots were rescued and my Kili trek saved.

I will forever be in debt to Halid Mohamed and all the porters who helped me make it up and down Kilimanjaro in one (safely heeled) piece.

Jack DeForrest

Jack DeForrest noticed a fellow trekker (Crystal) was struggling with her boots just a few hours into the climb. It seemed like she would have to leave the mountain, but then the porters came to the rescue.

On day one of our hike, the sole of Crystal’s boot becomes loose – I believe it was the heel part that started to fall off. The guides used masking tape to keep it from falling completely off.
Not long after that, the sole on her other boot came loose and started to fall off. I believe fellow trekker Fran had duct tape, which was used to keep the other sole on. Fran and I both thought that Crystal was going off the mountain before we got to our first camp.

That night, the boots were given to one of the porters who re-stitched both boots before daybreak – the rest is history.


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