Lost Among Europeans

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My New York friends tell me that anything can be found in New York, and they may be right, but some things are easier in Seattle. This is clearly a great city for hikers.

In August, during my Montana hike, I abraded my lower back to the point of bleeding. It made me miss my old backpack, which had been broken for a year. This old backpack is a wonderful French model with a capacity of 60 liters, and I bought it for my very first multi-day hike, in 1996. It has been with me in the Pyrenees, Morocco, New Zealand, the Grand Canyon and many other places. Last year, one side of the belt clasp snapped. I tried to find a replacement part, but the right size wasn’t available. Unfortunately, the other part of the clasp was sewn to the waist band, and it was not something I could fix myself in a reliable way. I bought a new backpack to carry on hiking, and hoped to find a replacement clasp in Spain, in one of the stores that carries French brands. Alas, they didn’t have the size I needed.

Seattle is the birth place of REI, perhaps the biggest chain of outdoors sports in the US, but there are several other good stores around. One in my neighborhood, Feathered Friends, has a great selection and carries French brands. After I asked about repairs, they told me to try Rainy Pass Repair, apparently one of the best outdoor gear repair shops in the country, and a 5 minute drive from home, to boot.

Since I was going to give them the backpack, I thought I might as well ask them to repair the side pouch, which had been torn by a hungry squirrel in the Grand Canyon. Here you can see Guillermo simulating the incident:

I got my backpack after a week, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Here is the side pouch:

And the clasp was un-sewn, replaced with a clasp I provided, and sewn back. It’s looking mighty solid.

I can’t wait to hike with it again. However, that will have to wait until spring. It is funny how I consider this backpack an old friend. I do develop friendships with many of the objects I own.

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