Camping in the Fall

Camping in the Fall

A Restful Sleep

I slept well last night. The stars were out, and when this happens I make my bed near the campfire. The air is always a bit more chilly by the river, but it keeps the mosquitoes and blackflies away. This heavier cold air is a small price to pay for keeping those nasty pests at bay. I hate them all, and their annoying relatives, except for when they become bird feed.

A small controlled fire for ambience and a double layer of security were the icing on the cake. My dog, Scout, is charge of late night security and he takes his job very seriously. He can smell the intruder long before I can bring my Tikka into the action.

The birds have been awake for quite sometime now and they are singing the joys of a new day. Others are communicating their happiness to each other. I can recognize the Robins, the Chickadees, and a Towhee. Close by, a Winter Wren is busy in the undergrowth with his early morning chores and is not yet part of this melodious choir.

The sky is growing lighter by the minute, as I try to squeeze a few more of these minutes in my warm, cozy comfort. After breakfast, we’ll be going up the river, to a new meadow I first visited last Spring. I’m toasty warm in the comfort of my sleeping bag when Scout moves in on me. He’s more than ready to get his day started, so what am I doing under the covers. I look a bit too comfortable to him, so he decides to do something about it. He doesn’t like to be ignored, and a slobbering lick on my face draws the required reaction.

Camping in the Fall Season
Scout ready for action

“Bastard”! … I yell at him. The cacophony of my reaction breaks the morning silence. I hate it when he does that. He backs off the necessary six to eight feet, and gives me the, “what’s the big deal”, look. With the time and effort of my reaction, I realize that I’m halfway out of my sleeping bag and I’m desperately looking around for something to throw at him. My gaze stops on the cast iron frying pan at the campfire. We eye other, momentarily, and I give my head a shake.

That, would be a bit too much!

He’s won that round.

A New Day

Standing up, I stretch my arms to the wide-open sky. The most restful sleep I’ve had this week. There are no noises here, except for the birds, beginning their day, and the persistent flow of the river. Scout walks over to greet me and I give him a vigorous head and neck massage. A man’s best friend indeed. He’s forgotten all about the thoughts I had of throwing my frying pan at him. We relish the moment and head for the river.

As I splash this glacial mountain water on my face all the cells in my body come to life. After I’ve recovered from the shock, I apply a few more splashes to my face and rub the sleep from my eyes. From instinct and practice, I gaze up and down the river for anything unusual. Nothing of a major size or shape in view, but I see a Dipper not far downstream. He searching hard for his breakfast and I seize a few moments to watch him in action.

Refreshed and wide awake, I carry a full pot of river water, to the campfire, and to my coffee pot. Freshly brewed coffee belongs to every mountain breakfast. I drop my loaded pot over the coals and turn my focus to breakfast.

The good host that I am, I serve Scout a bowl of his favorite “crunchies”.  I pour him some salmon flavored nuggets and pull out a small meaty bone, as dessert, from of my cooler. He goes to work on it like a dedicated athlete. Finally, I’m next in the breakfast line-up. My coffee pot is percolating so the time for that coffee is now!

The aroma of fresh coffee is an early morning pleasure not to be denied. Holding the hot cup in my hands, is the signal to begin my new day.

Breakfast by the Campfire

Fresh coffee, buttered buns, and three fried eggs with homemade beans are on the menu this morning. My campfire breakfast is always an event that I nurture and enjoy. My well-seasoned, cast iron frying pan is on standby, ready for action. With a broom-handle sized piece of firewood I scrape a small pile of red hot coals under my pan. The dab of bacon fat begins to sizzle as it hits the pan. I thin out my coals some, like turning my stove down to medium. The aroma of bacon fills my nostrils and I crack three free range chicken eggs into this sizzle. I circle it with homemade beans and wait impatiently over my pan. Later it will become fuel for my trek up-river, but now, it is a breakfast fit for a king.

I try not to gobble it down too fast to savor its flavors. This is comfort food. I celebrate this ambience and its aromas, with the birds and the flowing river for background music. This meal will serve as  my fuel for a five mile hike up the river, and the return trip home, if all goes well. There’s a possibility that we may spend the night at the meadow, and if that happens, there won’t be any fancy breakfast there. It’ll be rehydrated something, so I take that extra time to enjoy my beans and eggs.

New Boots from the City

The trail up river meanders on and off the riverbank. One minute I’m on an easy trail, the next I’m bushwhacking. When that doesn’t work I have to follow the rock and gravel of the river’s dry bottom. The water level is low at this time of year, so this gives me more options. I’m looking forward to trying out my new boots. I’ve purchased another pair of hiking boots and they feel great on my feet. I’ve been wearing them a lot in town, but today will be their first mountain experience. They sure look good in the city, but there are no manicured trails out here, so we’ll see how they fare out.

On the March

With a full stomach, and everything packed-up nice and neat, we begin our march up river.

Camping in the Fall

The sun hasn’t broken over the mountain ridges yet, as we leave our spike camp. The morning air is crisp and cool. I use this to pick up the pace. The 5 or 6 mile distance to the meadow, isn’t that far but some parts of it are challenging, to say the least. Scout is on point. After all, that’s part of his job description. Not too far forward, four or five meters at the most. He’s sniffing his way up river. His nose controls and governs his life. He’s setting the pace and this suits me fine. A few hundred meters up ahead there’s a sheltered lookoff where we’ll stop to better observe the river’s edge. Here, I can see up and down the river for a almost a kilometer in each direction. A good place to catch my breath, let my breakfast settle, adjust my backpack, and get a feel for these new boots.

It’s not unusual to see a doe with her fawn or a lumbering Black Bear from this look-out.

These are boots that I’m bringing along today.

Keen Men’s Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot

Camping in the Fall Season
my new boots

Product Description

The Targhee Mid II, is described by Keen, the manufacturer, and Amazon, as a waterproof hiking boot that offers 4-wheel drive performance, for your feet. “We’ll see about that as the day moves along”.

Their purpose is keep my feet dry and let them breathe. This boot has been revamped with the KEEN.DRY waterproof breathable membrane to keep my feet dry and comfortable.

The aggressive outsole pattern has 4mm lugs to provide the necessary traction and grip I’ll need in the great outdoors, and the mid-cut height kicks in for ankle support. An ESS shank is included for torsional stability and a more secure ride

Keen believes the outdoors is any place without a ceiling, and I have no problem with that concept.

Product Review

Product Name: Keen Men’s Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot

Website: www.keenfootwear.com

Best Place to Buy: Available at Amazon and other outdoor supply stores

Price: $94.76 – $149.95  July 3, 2019.

Manufacturer: Keen

Rating: 4.8 when they perform as advertised

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good

  • comfortable
  • lightweight
  • waterproof
  • like walking on clouds, when new

The Bad, and the Ugly

Camping in the Fall
sole to boot separation
  • sole to boot separation on some models
  • photo on the right is of MY boots
  • later versions are of inferior quality
  • one of MY speed lace hooks broke off in the bush, and I had to drill a knife hole i my boot to replace it properly (on a previous pair)

Why the new boots?

I put a lot of miles on my boots and for me they are like the rubber on my truck. It’s my only contact with Mother Earth, and the importance of proper fitting and comfortable footwear cannot be overly emphasized.

Conclusions

The first time I slipped into a pair of Keen hiking boots I thought my feet had gone to heaven. It felt as if I was walking on clouds.

I spend a lot of time in the outdoors, and on my feet, at work, as well, so I consider footwear to be of prime importance. As I mature, I buy the best I can afford, and I also try to keep more pairs in circulation. Instead of wearing them down to nothing, I rotate a few pair, and this seems to be the best option for me at the moment.

These are “soft” boots as opposed to the more heavier type of hiking boot, that require a longer “breaking-in” period. They feel comfortable on my feet as I make my way along an easy trail by the river. Lately I’ve been reading mixed reviews about these boots, so I’m going to monitor these boots and the time I spend in them much more closely.

On a previous pair I owned, the top speed-lace loop broke while I was coming down a not-too-steep mountain slope. Another pair separated at the sole and upper part of the boot after a short but rugged season of mountaineering. My loads were not that heavy and the terrain was not exceptionally rugged.

I’ll be the first to admit that I give my boots a good workout, but this is what hiking boots are for!

Comments, Questions, and Suggestions

If you have ever owned Keen Hiking Boots I would be pleased to hear about your experience with them. Where were you wearing your boots and how do you treat your footwear?

You can Contact Me at your convenience and I will reply as promptly as my circumstances permit. I reply to all my emails in a timely manner.

6 thoughts on “Camping in the Fall”

  1. Camping in the Fall has its very own set of requirements to make sure the experience is one that you remember fondly and not have nightmares about. The cooler nights, the weather that can change from warm to cold quickly, the rain and winds that affect your shelter, and of course your footwear requirements that are much different than for a Summer camping trip.

    Breaking in new boots in the wilderness is an adventure, especially if you are hiking the 5-6 miles that you mention in your article. It seems you made the right choice, the Keen boots your selected are a bit easier to wear when new. I was surprised that you have had some bad experiences with the durability of them over the years…

    So do you recommend getting these Keen hiking boots or would you think another brand might perform better? I am in the market for some new hiking boots, and the Keen brand has some options that are just what I need, but I also need some that are going to last. Thanks in advance for your advice…

    • Hi Dave and thanks for stopping by.

      I love my Keen Hiking Boots. 

      This is my 3rd pair of wilderness boots. I have also purchased a pair for my construction activities. More on that later.

      The pair of Hiking Boots in the photo is of my personal hiking boots. I can’t recall their exact age but I do know that they were given a good workout. The broken speedlace loop could have been damaged anywhere, and belongs to another pair of Keens. My kind of wilderness activities are hard on gear and humans as well.

      I have read a small percentage of reviews claiming and showing this separation at the sole and boot. On my boots this occurred after many, many miles of rugged climbing and descent, and I did not feel that I had been let down by my purchase of these boots. 

      They did serve me “very well” and this new pair, … is pair #4 for me!

      YES, I would recommend purchasing these boots. So far, so good!

      Paul

  2. I love camping a lot and it’s an activity I look forward to rather all the time as it has become a family deal to which we use in getting private times and spending worthy moments with one another. Yes, I have a pair of the Keen Men’s Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot. The convenience and safety it offers is the sole reason I prefer it to most other boots. I have only had positive things to say about it considering how great it is compared to all my formal boots.

    • Thanks Darrick.

      I’m happy to hear that you love these boots. 

      I have read some reviews about these boots separating at the sole and boot. This was the case with one of my pair of Keens, but only after having spent hundreds of miles of mountain ascent and descent. I feel well served by my Keen products and I am now in my 4th pair.

      How old are your Keens and have you read similar reviews about this product?

      Paul

  3. Thanks for reading my post, Andy.

    I have made a slight adjustment to my post to clarify the broken speedlace. This malfunction occurred on a previous pair and not on these new boots. My new boots performed very well. They were very comfortable on my feet. No blisters and no such issues. Proper fitting boots are like the rubber on your vehicle.
    I will review these boots in greater detail later in the season as I put on more miles in them.
    I’m happy to hear that you will soon be hitting the trails again.
    Paul

  4. What a great description of your journey, you put my mind right there on the train with you. Sorry, your boots had to be a pain and had to put a knife hole in a brand new pair but otherwise, they look to have held out better than the tread separators I’ve had in the past that just couldn’t take this SW Arizona heat. The first thing I want to do once I get healthy again is to go on a hiking and fishing trip to Oak Creek Canyon near Jerome Arizona. I will look back on your blog for more inspiration and equipment tips.

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