I love my Boots...
Every fall, as the brilliant greens fade from the leaves giving way to bursts of orange, red, and yellow, my pulse quickens and anticipation grows. Screeching tubular calls echo in the canyons when ghosts of the forest enter the rut. Finding the source of the call becomes an obsession. Wapiti move silent, surprisingly so when you consider the sheer mass of these magnificent creatures. Their screams betray location and intent, fueling my desire to track and harvest arguably the world's tastiest protein.
I usually wait until the traffic of the mountains has settled, the main hunts have all ended and I approach the mountains with my muzzle loader, humming the theme to “Last of the Mohicans” while I run through aspens and sage. In my mind, I flow with the energy of the mountains and meld with the spirit of the forest. In reality, my misdirected hippie-tendencies are only trumped in falsehood by my lack of graceful movement and harmonious incongruity.
This year, I have a rifle tag for both a bull and a cow, so I am hunting primetime. Every hunter in the state of Utah from amateur to the profession will be in the forests searching the most valued quarry. Every ATV, UTV, OHV, and Jeep will make a single lane forest road back up like I-15 at rush hour. My only hope, my boots.
In prepping for this year's hunt I reacquaint myself with one of my favorite areas in the Uintah mountains. It is a favorite because the roads are rough (OHV only), not tactically advantageous for “truck” hunting, and provide access to several trailheads. I will only compete with other “boots” for hunting area. This area offers and exceptional position for a base camp, including a chance for Dutch oven cooking, from which I will launch daily excursions to several small lakes and a long ridge with a superb view. It is a little slice of heaven on earth, a living history lesson.
I have many sets of boots. I like boots they take me places. This time of year can be tricky, there may be snow and temperatures may be freezing. I have a little leeway based on the socks I choose and my sock liners. (If you aren't using sock liners you really should consider it; you're missing a wonderful world of comfort.) My late-season boots are insulated with Thinsulate and are excellent for late fall. This year I'm hunting a full month earlier, so I am going to go with lightweight boots and wool socks.
My boot of choice is the Merrell Moab Rover waterproof boot. A lightweight waterproof boot with excellent ankle support, correct sizing, and durable Vibram soles. I put hundreds of miles on these fantastic boots and they have responded well. I have what you might consider a duck foot, wide up front and narrow at the heel. The Merrell's are offered in wide widths and are able to fit my foot perfectly when equipped with no tie elastic locking shoe laces. The interior of the shoe sports a mesh lining allowing your foot to breathe. The Merrell's are at the top of my list when it comes to quality hiking gear, like your straw filter of life.
Early morning mists crisp enough to sting your lungs veiled over lush green Meadows at the peak of their perfection call me miles to places most people will never visit. Solitary silence rings loudly in my ears, I can hear everything and nothing at the same time. Goosebumps raise on my arms and fog escapes my mouth while I scan between trees and brush. Later in the day I know I will be hanging in my best double camping hammock. sharing a Pop Tart with at least one chipmunk, it is a yearly ritual and a conversation I look forward to. This is a place of beauty, a place of peace, and after miles of hiking my boots have brought me to a place where I find the best me I can be. Thank you boots.