When I went on trek in Ladakh, India, most people who went along were outfitted to the gills in the latest, greatest, newest hiking clothes and shoes for such an occasion. One person, however, wore a pair of Converse All-Stars–the basic low cut version. Nothing fancy and he didn’t even lace them. I can’t remember if he wore socks. Probably not.
He walked unhurriedly for nine days along the trail that lead up the mountains through the Markha Valley. As he walked, he chewed tobacco and cheerfully shot the breeze. His shirts, by the way, were very nice cotton, pin-stripped button down Oxford cloth. His pants– blue jeans. He tied a red bandana, pirate-style around his head and was never without his Ray Bans. I was proud he was in my group that lolly-gagged behind the rest. We took in the scenery and each others company, while the over-achievers sped ahead for who knows what reason except for wanting to be first. (It was hard not to delight in the gasping heaves and moans when altitude sickness kicked in for some of them.)
The Converse All-Stars said, “Kick back. Don’t worry.” I was happy to follow their pace. None of the five of us in the pack that brought up the rear suffered from altitude sickness. We were walking too slow for that, and my friend never got a blister that I can recall.
Converse All-Stars, also called Chuck Taylors or “Chucks,” first made their appearance as basketball shoes in 1917. The company, though, is celebrating its 100th year. It was founded in 1908.