War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

desert boots

combat engineer’s boot/Wainwrightistan 2009/smsteele

two years ago I walked 850 km across northern Spain, from the French Pyrenees to the Galician city of Santiago de Compostela… it was during those 7 weeks of putting one foot in front of the other that I first began to think about kit and how important it is to one’s physical and mental well-being.

along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, I encountered so many people who suffered greatly because of lousy boots. I saw gangrene toes, hips and knees injured by poor footwear, feet entirely encased in blisters, feet so badly swollen that people wept, had to end their lifelong dreams of walking the Camino because the pain was so great and the damage so profound. many of the young ones, maybe 18 or 20 years old, walked like 90 year olds, their feet, ankles, knees, hips, so badly injured.

somewhere along the Camino I started thinking about soldiers and their boots. this was the early stirrings of one of my war projects, New Tans. whenever I get a chance, I talk to soldiers about their kit, especially about their boots. soldiers are constantly refining, adjusting, adapting kit. soldiers are constantly helping other soldiers adjust their kit.

one day at FOB Anchor’s CP in Wainwrightistan, I noticed these boots on a soldier and asked him if I could take a pic. soldier is a big man, has seen a lot, done a lot.

he is going on his 2nd tour to Afghanistan, has served as a combat engineer in Bosnia, and I believe Somalia. his boots are soft as moccasins. he’s hoping a shoemaker can replace the soles before he goes to Afghanistan next year. part of me thinks that maybe they are a lucky charm for him, that they have carried him safely home again and again and again. that his boots know him.

2 Comments (Closed)


I agree with everything u said: boots are walker best friends (or enemies).


Jun 27 2009 · 12:57


hola amigo, it’s exactly 2 years since we walked into Galicia together, shared Caldo, vino tinto…

I still have my boots and still love them… next walk, in 2014, all the way from Paris to Rome… get your boots ready and join us!

Jun 27 2009 · 17:13

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled desert boots. It was posted here on June 27, 2009.


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