Continued: Boot diaries, daydreams, and nightmares

Continued: Boot diaries, daydreams, and nightmares

12 December 2013 | Ashland, OR — Last spring, Keen Footwear offered SMC volunteers a  50% discount on boots to be used in the field on trail maintenance projects. I got my hands on a pair of 6-inch Portland PRs in July.

Logging out pine from the Lone Pilot Trail, Soda Mtn Wilderness

They took no time to break in as I hiked a crew into southwest Oregon’s Soda Mtn Wilderness Area for a heavy maintenance project on the 12-mile Lone Pilot Trail. They held up to 8 days in the Soda Mtn Wilderness, and were comfortable right away.

But the real test came in August, when I took my Portland PRs for a trial in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area, known for its rocky, rugged and steep terrain, many stream crossings, hot weather, and sheer abuse on hikers, volunteers, and the shoes they choose to wear.

I spent eighteen days down there with two crews. The first trial came when fording the Chetco River, with a heavy pack on my back and awkwardly balanced tools in my hand.

On my first crossing I stepped on a wobbly rock, forcing me to dip my boot into about 4″ of rushing water to maintain stability. Upon inspection, my foot was dry. After fording the Chetco 9 more times, I became more and more comfortable with stepping on submerged rocks for balance, and letting the Chetco’s water run freely over my foot.

Each time the Portland PR held up, keeping my feet dry and friction and blister free. I wasn’t shy with the boots, and eagerly employed the steel toe for kicking rocks off the trail. I aggressively dug my heels and toes into rocky slopes for stability while working.

Other than some tearing to the sole, the Keen Portland PRs held up over about 30 days working in the field. Their claim to being waterproof is true, even after months of use. And they’re tough, just what a Siskiyou Hiker needs.

Find more pictures of volunteers wearing Keen boots by clicking here.

Gabe Howe, SMC Field Coordinator

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