If you have not read part 4 yet, you can check that out here

These Boots Were Made for Sloshin’

I arrived at my first RV probably in twice the amount of time I should have. I reported sheepishly to the cadre in the PU truck. Once released, I picked out a more careful departure route and slowly jogged away from the truck. The rest of the day was a blur of terrain and torment, climbing over countless fences and crossing scores of creeks under the futile pretense of keeping my feet dry. It took more energy to cross a creek trying to keep my feet dry, so screw it—I eventually just sloshed right through them and got it over with.

My boots were nothing fancy: combat-style, black leather, two pairs. I treated them with nothing but Shinola boot polish. I made sure I rotated them each day. I ate no snacks, no power bars, powders, or gels. I thrived on only air, water, and leg boots.

None of us knew when the day would be over. We didn’t know how many days we would be humping the hills until the long walk was upon us. When I finally was told to get in the back of a truck, there were quite a lot of other men already in there. I must have been one of the last ones.

WV in Winter
Absolutely beautiful if you don’t have to navigate it in wet boots.

A Ride in Near Total Darkness

The truck was zipped shut, and it was near total darkness. We knew not whether we were going to another gouge somewhere in the mountains to bed down or back to the barracks to pack for the airport. Eventually, a couple of feeble speculations were voiced, countered by other speculations. One man tried peering through a tiny hole in the corner of the cover. He quickly regained his dignity and sat back down with the rest of us.