Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hey, Look What I Got!

When life exceeds capacity.

I knew this ultralight stuff wasn't going to work out. I just knew it.

I don't know how I could have been so stupid, but here I am. It's at least 10 miles back to the car, wherever that is, and these lightweight so-called hiking shoes I have won't boot up. I've tried everything and I can't get them to respond.

The battery check is good. Full charge. The diagnostics all come up positive. Still, no go.

When I try to fire up the built-in GPS to get my bearings, all I get is a screen full of error messages. I can't even tell how many, they just scroll off the bottom and keep going until I flip the switch back to "off".

Now I'm looking at a long hike in some random direction without being able to talk to my shoes. The voice input seems to be working, sort of -- at least I can see the LCD VU meter responding when I talk into the mic, but no rational response. And the left shoe seems to be off somewhere in la-la land. It's reporting a totally different frequency range than my actual voice carries, not to mention a bunch of noise showing up on the dynamic range function.

So where do I go? I've got these $800 shoes and all they are now is things that go on my feet. Even the heater quit working. How can anyone hike in shoes with no electric heater? I mean, get real here.

I'm at a junction of three trails. Sure, I just pick one and hike, right? But which one? I have a 66.7% chance of going in the wrong direction. How can that be good?

I need my shoes to give me some intelligence.

Things might be a little different if I'd been carrying one of those old-fashioned paper maps, if I could read one. I paid lots of attention coming in, but who needs to look where they're going any more? Isn't it enough to admire the scenery? Isn't this what it's all about? Why should I have to think? This is 2012.

Well, now I have to think. I'm not used to this. I paid good money so I wouldn't have to. Now I have to.

If I'd stuck with my old gear I'd be carrying a whole lot more weight but there's nothing like redundancy. I'd have GPS in my camera, cell phone, radio, and e-reader. They wouldn't all fail at once.

Now I'm stuck with a pair of shoes that won't quit beeping at me. Even the interactive map function is hosed. It keeps showing me the best route through Las Vegas.

If only.

The good news is that I brought an extra day's worth of food, weight be damned, so I can eat. For a while.

And my knife is working. Bless you, little Victorinox.

To save weight I did get the entry-level model with the small screen and no GPS. I can cut stuff with it, but that's really primitive. Who cuts anymore?

I don't have anything to cut anyway. All my food is powdered and freeze-dried. About all I can do besides walk is sit down every now and then and play a few minutes of Angry Bugs on my knife.

But that is a real life saver.

I'd for sure go nuts without the knife.

Surrounded by these trees and rocks, and nothing else. It's pretty creepy out here, all green and gray and brown and black, and barely 3-D, and that's only the old kind you have to see with your own eyes, like the dinosaurs did.

I'll have to go easy on the knife. Be careful not to run the battery down. If I lose that connection to reality I'm gone for sure.


Technology marches on: Victorinox squeezes 1TB of high-speed storage into a Swiss Army Knife