Last October, my wife and I spent a lovely, if strenuous day hiking the length of the Glen Onoko Falls Trail, in Lehigh State Park, about 90 minutes outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There, we saw two signs that caught our attention, signs the likes of which we had never seen on a hiking trail before, in all our years of tromping around this beautiful country.
One had a skull and crossbones, to drive home the danger of the trail, which was wet, and rocky, with stretches that paralleled fatal drops.
|Glen Onoko Falls Trail|
I bought them at REI in 2009, when my boys and I were preparing for our epic 7,000 mile, nine-National-Park odyssey across the country. They're size 10, but somehow fit my 8 1/2 EEE feet perfectly. They've carried me up mountainsides in the Rockies, through fern-canopied paths in the Redwood Forest, splashed in the Pacific and the Atlantic, trod the deserts of South Dakota, Nevada and Utah, scampered around Wyoming, been up to Canada, striding through the woods in Nova Scotia and across the canyons of New York City and London and Chicago.
|Keens doing their job in |
I've had a number of other brands of boots that fell far short. A pair of Timberlands that quickly split between the uppers and the sole come to mind, bringing a shudder every time they do.
Even the best boots will wear out after years of hard use, and Keens are no different. (My wife blames the snow: I'd wear them to shovel our driveway, a mistake). When the left boot developed a hole in the upper, I did something I've never done with hiking boots or any other footwear for that matter. I took them to the shoemaker and had them patched. The patches are obvious squares of brown, but I don't care. If I get another few seasons out of them, it's worth it. When they wore away at the heel, I reinforced them myself with REI ballistic tape. Then I started gluing the tape to the seams.
"Buy new hiking boots!" my wife sensibly commanded. But I can't. Not yet. I'll never find a pair like this. They fit my ducklike feet. They've been with me all over. At some point they'll fall apart—in my heart I hope I fall apart first—and I'll grumble and get another pair of Keen boots. I'm hoping they're as good, being made by the same company and all. But they'll have very big shoes to fill.