On a recent field excursion in the stormwater system, several of the inlets held an inch or so of water. In most of the inlets, I was able to climb down and avoid the water, but in a couple, I stepped in the water. I didn't worry about it since I was wearing my faithful old boots. Until I felt water pouring into my socks.
I don't recall when exactly I bought my Vibram boots, but it must have been at least 12 years ago. The first time I actually remember wearing them was about 11 years ago when I was taking a wetland delineation class in Kansas City. I remember because they were not particularly comfortable; I was wearing them all day long and my socks kept getting bunched up. I thought about geting rid of them, but I couldn't really afford another pair of waterproof hiking boots at the time, and I hate getting rid of things that are still useful. Over the course of the next several months, I had a few other opportunities to wear these boots, each time breaking them in a bit, making them more and more comfortable.
Fast forward several years, and they had achieved "my comfortable boots" status. The waterproofing was mostly gone, but they still held up against dampness and splashing. They were the boots I prefered for hiking trips.
I'm not sure why I chose to wear my comfortable Vibram boots in the field, but when I got home in the evening and had a chance to look them over, I saw how truly old and non-waterproof they had become. I already have a couple of other pair of boots that I've broken in that haven't fallen apart like these. So, today I bid a fond farewell to my favorite footwear....