A few years back, on a winter trip to Yosemite, I arrived at a trailhead leading out of the valley to discover a pair of boots peeking out from beneath a rock nearby. Thinking it was odd, I investigated. They were ancient. Well, ancient in the sense that they were clearly decades old. Vasques. Sundowners, I believe. Full leather. They looked like somebody had taken an old, beloved baseball glove, and nailed them to a sole. Gorgeous leather, but worn thin. These boots had been on who knows how many treks.

There was a note.

“Sorry to leave these here, but this is the first trail I’d ever hiked in these boots, many years ago, and I couldn’t bear to just throw them out. I wanted to leave them as a kind of memorial.”


Looked like some flowers had been left in the boots, long since browned.

I thought about it, and realized I didn’t have any boots I cared about nearly that much. Nor did I own any leather boots that would last that long. The oldest boots in my arsenal were a pair of Asolos that lasted me about a decade until the Vibram soles wore down too slick to be of much use in Sierra granite. I wasn’t really sad to see ’em go, however. Sure, there was a little flash of nostalgia about when I bought them, but otherwise, they were left unceremoniously at my local Goodwill. I didn’t consider leaving a note.

I wish I did have a pair of boots like that, however. Trail runners are more comfortable, but there’s something about an old pair of boots. I have no problem sacrificing weight and cushion for a pair of boots that can tell a story. That I can show to my daughter in 30 years, to tell her how I wore them on her first ever backpacking trip. I have 30-year-old baseball gloves, after all. Why not boots?

As an incentive for conversation, we’re giving away a copy of Adventure Journal to one commenter chosen at random. You can choose any issue we have in stock, and if you’re already a subscriber we can extend your sub by an issue, send you an issue you don’t have, or give one to a friend. Just include your email when you post your comment so we can get in touch.

Photo: Alexander Schimmeck

You need something to read? We have something to read!

Adventure Journal’s print stories are only available in print. They are deeper, longer, and more nuanced than what you find online. Find out why 99% of subscribers renew every single year.

Order a subscription and current issue you today and most U.S. address will have their copy in three days. West Coast addresses it’s 1-2 days.

Subscribe here.

Pin It on Pinterest