Saturday, September 02, 2006

Waffle Stompers

“Well, these boots are made for walking
And that's just what they'll do”
-Lee Hazlewood

While cleaning out the garage for Brisket Fest 2006 I remembered an old pair of hiking boots that I had refused to throw out. These boots are “waffle stompers” as they came to be known.

The leather of the boots was turned inside out giving them a very rough exterior. They were coated with a water proofing product known as snow seal. The sole of these boots were the infamous Vibram waffle sole. The sole was attached by sewing using a flat welt, although this particular brand sported a modified welt that was not completely flat.

These boots were purchased in Fayetteville, Arkansas in 1976. The boots had hiked the entire stretch of the Ouachita Mountain hiking trail, in the winter at that. They wandered the campus of the University of Arkansas when it snowed, along with my Catahoula hound, Hank Williams
–Wooooo pig soooie!

When I went to LaPaz, Bolivia as a student teacher, the boots went too. The boots were on my feet when I took a bus to some ruins on the altiplano. I missed my return bus and me and the boots had to catch a Chola truck back to LaPaz. We sat in the back of large truck full of Indians and shared a popcorn treat with the Indian kids. I still think of that trip when I hear the Bruce Cockburn song, “Dust and Diesel”.

Dust and diesel
Rise like incense from the road –
Smoke of offering
For the revolution coming

On that particular trip the boots and I teamed up for a hike on an Incan trail from the altiplano to the tropical area known as Las Yungas. According to our former US Aid guide the trail had not been hiked in years. We sorted our gear and I was found lacking a whistle. I had no idea why I needed a whistle until we started our hike. First, there was the land slide on the side of the mountain that we had to climb then there was the great wide open of grass covered steep mountain criss-crossed with trails and a condor soaring over head. I took a trail going down, knowing that we were to follow a river. Then I heard the whistles. I followed them back to the group with the new found appreciation of the signal whistle.

The boots went back with me to live in Bolivia for three years. They traveled to Santiago, Chile where after curfew we listened to banned folk songs sung by the uncle of Violeta Para. She was a popular folk singer during the Allende period that was captured and killed in the soccer stadium when Pinochet took over.

From Santiago it was on to the North and into Peru. The boots were with me when I took photographs of army tanks in the plaza at Arrequipa. They visited Machu Pichu and were on my feet when we saw the curly haired cross of sheep and alpaca (see previous blog entry).

Upon returning to the states the soles were quite worn out. So I visited a cobbler and had them resoled. They continue to serve me through some hard labor. I was a part of a hiking club that built the Ozarks Highlands Trail from the Boston Mountains to the Buffalo River country. They even went with me on my first backpacking trip to the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming. I retired those boots after that trip for a pair of lightweight Nike hikers; these carried me through the Saw tooth Mountains in Idaho. I do not have the Nikes anymore. My wife talked me into putting them in the gleaner’s box. But I just can not seem to part with these, even though they are antiques and I do not wear them anymore.



Blogger daddy d said...

With all of the adventure those boots have been on,they need to be framed. What a great story throught out. My boots once got to go to John Wood Mill.

7:50 AM  
Blogger Molly said...

This is another wonderful story that you have weaved around your boots. Lee, Nancy, and even Jessica would be amazed to read your story.

"Are you ready, boots?"

2:39 PM  
Blogger gawilli said...

Getting rid of these shoes would be like moving out a member of the family; they certainly have a life of their own and are most definitely a part of yours. I'm still trying to figure out how you ended up in Northwest Indiana...but I sure am glad you did.

5:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your step-daddy stories. And grilling capabilities, which is neither here nor there, but much appreciated nonetheless.

10:22 PM  
Blogger Jay said...

Hello! Thanks for commenting on my blog.

You should definately keep those boots. There's too much history there. Maybe get them bronzed or something.

Speaking of the Hogs. They announced tonight that "Waco Boy" Robert Johnson will be moved to WR and Mitch Mustain from "Chickendale" will be the starter.

I love that you call Springdale "Chickendale" I haven't heard anyone call it that in a long time.

Thanks for visiting my blog. You have a great blog. I'll read through it and get caught up.

10:36 PM  
Blogger katy said...

wow i had some boots like that but they weren't used as much as yours, happy hiking

2:04 PM  
Blogger Peggy said...

Oh, I haven't heard them called wafflestompers in a long time. Thanks for making me smile!

2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been working on a blog about my high school days in the 70s. Waffle Stompers were the fashion accessory here in the Rocky Mountain west.

For us, though, Waffle Stompers were just a cheap suede boot with a lug sole. What you had here were the rugged alpine boots we all dreamed of having. Boots that would hold up to anything, had "scree collars" and weight about 20 lbs.

Great story, Willi!

11:07 AM  
Blogger Lena's Dad said...

Nice story. I have my old pair and share the problem. There are just so many sweet memories attached to these. I wore out one pair and pert near wore out the second. With these boots on I could do anything.

Now, just try to find a new pair. They ain't made no more. It's the one piece of clothing that I'd really like to replace but haven't found anything.

11:50 AM  

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