Barefoot in the park — in this case, a state parkBEVERLY GODFREY COLUMN: Summer is a time to kick off your shoes, especially if you’re a kid. On a recent trip to Grand Marais, I saw a couple lost shoes, sized just about right for a 2- or 3-year-old.
By: Beverly Godfrey, Duluth News Tribune
Summer is a time to kick off your shoes, especially if you’re a kid.
On a recent trip to Grand Marais, I saw a couple lost shoes, sized just about right for a 2- or 3-year-old.
There was an expensive-looking moccasin propped in the window of the Lake Superior Trading Post. A water shoe sat posed beside the trail map on Pincushion Mountain. I thought it was nice that whoever had come along next thought it important enough to set the shoes somewhere they would be seen. It’s nice to think that in their small ways, people are looking out for each other.
Later that day, I was hiking with my kids along the trail at Cascade River State Park. I stopped to take a few pictures and then looked down at my 2-year-old. He stood by the fence that protected us from the 100-foot gorge. He wore one sandal and a deer-in-headlights expression.
“Did you throw your sandal over the fence?” I asked.
He nodded. “Yeah. It over there,” he said, pointing into the void.
I leaned over the rail and could see the sandal, nestled in the small bushes about 7 feet down.
Not for a moment did I think to go around the fence, but I did entertain the statistics of my survival if I did.
I could sneak around the fence and crouch down, holding the bottom rail. Maybe I could reach the shoe and pull myself back up. But more likely, my feet would slip on ground exposed to 24-hour-a-day mist. I’d be holding with one hand to a log fence worn smooth by decades of use. I could maintain that position for maybe two seconds before plummeting to my death.
I gave myself about a 40 percent chance of survival.
But the sandal was close. Maybe I could reach it with something. I looked around for a long stick and found one underneath a dead pine.
You’re probably not supposed to mess with the sticks lying on the forest floor in a state park. But you’re not supposed to leave shoes behind, either. I was stuck between billion-year-old bedrock and a hard place. I took the big stick and leaned over toward the shoe.
On the first try, I was able to hook the sandal and swing it up in a 7-foot arc over my head and onto the pathway.
After taking a triumphant photo of the stick, the sandal and me, I dressed the boy and told him not to throw his shoe into the gorge again. Sometimes these things need to be spelled out.
Obviously needing something to throw, we heaved the big stick off a nearby bridge and followed it down the rapids as long as we could see it.
I don’t know the stories behind the lost moccasin or water shoe, but I’m sure it was something similar. Summers were made for bare feet and throwing things. Preschoolers’ shoes don’t stand a chance.
Beverly Godfrey is a copy editor for the News Tribune. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Robin Washington’s column will appear next week.