New Boots

My friend’s rainbow trout was about to shake itself off the hook, so I jumped into Hebgen Lake to grab hold of it. Moments later water seeped through a hole and surrounded my right foot.

This had been going on for a month, including an uncomfortable ice fishing episode when the foot submerged in semi-frozen water, and finally I decided it was time to fix things by visiting the local outfitting experts.

My first stop was Free Heel and Wheel. I handed over the boot and it was taken to the back room for an examination. The verdict was that shoe goop wouldn’t work because the hole had become too large.

Next I talked to a guy from Idaho who went along on this fishing trip and he said he always uses duct tape to patch his boots. This made sense to me and I taped it up before going on a photo shoot, but the tape became wet and slipped off after an hour. I have a tendency to walk in streams and once again came home with a wet, soggy right foot.

Then I went to Bud Lilly’s Trout Shop, where I explained the entire history of water seepage, prior attempts at fixes, and various suggestions of what to do next. I received clarity in a couple of sentences: “Stop trying to fix that boot. Just go to Walmart and get another pair.”

This turned out to be good advice because Walmart in Billings had boots at half-price and I got my new ones for $10.

To finish up about my new boots, I’ll talk about being in Bozeman two weeks ago. In the morning the region woke up to a spring snowstorm and I put them on while doing errands. Later in the day I decided I needed a bunch of supplies and headed north for the 1.5 hour drive to Bozeman.

While there I thought I might as well check out the food co-op, which I had never visited. It was filled with people in very expensive mountain/outdoorsy clothes.

I noticed in myself a feeling of discomfort, and a couple things flashed into my mind. The first thought was of a local woman who says whenever she goes to Bozeman she can spot West Yellowstone people because they are wearing flannel and great big boots.

Then, keeping my eyes steady on the Montana bison meat selection, I forced myself to recall what I had on. It was my red flannel shirt, with no less than black long underwear peeking out of the collar, and of course my totally-unnecessary-in-the-situation new boots.

So while the boots are comfortable enough to forget they are on, maybe that’s a drawback, at least if you find yourself in places where it isn’t the style.

More posts in this category: Life in West Yellowstone



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  1. You dress just fine. I love looking at the tourists who have all of their new hiking gear and never get on a trail. I just prefer jeans, sweatshirts and hiking shoe. Don’t need anything fancy. Sorry, I can’t work for you. The dental emergency is taking me away the end of June. I will come by to see you soon. Hope the store is coming together. Stop fishing and get to work. :}

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