Re: Hiking and wading boots
A little late getting this in, but I hope it's not too late. I had the same dilemma. I've been wanting to go for Brookies and all of Byron's suggestions and everything here on LRO's message boards said the same thing - you've got to go up high. A couple months ago I had tried hiking up Thunderhead in my hiking boots and then wading in them. Too dangerous! I nearly broke a few things. (I told Daniel I'd give him a full report, and I probably will in person, but for now you can chalk this up as another endorsement for Korkers.) Daniel at LRO was kind enough to order a pair of Korkers for me a few weeks ago. I had read online somewhere that they ran small so I had him order a pair of size 11 Wetlands because I normally wear a size 10 shoe/boot. The online info was wrong so I took them back to Daniel who gladly handled a return and re-order of the Korkers in size 10. *The 10's were a perfect fit and I couldn't wait to try them out! I finally had a chance this weekend, but I cheated. I did exactly what Byron suggested in today's "Report". Instead of hiking up the Lynn Camp Prong, I drove up to the switchback just below Newfound Gap and came back about a quarter mile and started in on Walker Camp Prong.
The boots performed as advertised! Admittedly, I didn't do a whole lot of hiking in them, but swapping out the soles was a breeze and the felt soles worked as well as anything I've tried. Because of the unique design, the entire sole is not felt and during the initial break-in phase they have an unusual feel -- kind of like they want to roll out to the side on you. But once you've broken in the felt, they're very comfortable and the roll goes away.
My son and I worked a kind of reverse leapfrog pattern coming back down the mountain. We'd drive down a quarter mile or so, pull off and park, go in and fish a five to six hundred yard stretch of water then hike back out and back to the car, drive down another quarter mile or so and repeat the process. After about the third rotation, I noticed another unadvertised benefit of the Korkers boots. You know how felt sole wading boots pick up all kinds of dirt and grit and crap? And if you don't take them off, when you get in the car you drag all that stuff onto the floor mats and then they drip all over the floorboards and mats and everything. With the Korkers, you swap out the soles, throw the felt soles - and the mess- *in the trunk, and the car stays fairly clean!
I would definitely recommend at least looking into the Korkers boots. They make two models and I bought the Wetlands, which is the less expensive of the two. Are they the world's greatest hiking boots? No. Am I a serious hiker/backpacker/climber? No, and hiking is not what I bought them for. Do they serve my needs in the park? Definitely. They're lightweight, provide good ankle support and are very "breatheable". *Am I a world-class fly-fisherman? No. Do the Korkers serve my needs for wading and climbing the odd stretch of boulders? Definitely.
One last thought. I would also recommend adding a pair of neoprene wading boots to your plans. I picked up a pair of Chota wading boots at LRO and they were an absolutely perfect complement to the Korkers boots. For my purposes, the Chota design was the more comfortable of the ones I tried. Also, it seemed to me that they ran small so I ended up with a size 11 Chota wading boot inside a Korkers size 10 Wetlands boot. All in all, the combination made for a very comfortable and extremely productive day of fishing the higher elevations. And THAT report goes into another post in a different thread.
Korkers Boots?? *Highly, highly recommended!
"I've since learned to use the best knot rather than the one that uses the least line. I go through more tippet material but compensate by drinking cheaper whiskey. One must have priorities." ... Art Scheck