Nothing but one rainy day after another lately, which has washed away my urge to spend hours on the trail finding pretty pictures to post here.

But I have scored one private victory of late that seems worth gabbing about.

It has to do with these boots, which I have finally beaten into submission a month after having bought them.

They’re made by Vasque, which has a reputation for building some of the world’s best boots. They’re also made specifically for backpacking, with extra-firm soles and sturdy heels designed to carry extra weight.

All well and good… I tried ’em on at the store and they fit fine. Pricey for my taste at $150 a pair, but there’s no excuse for a hiker of moderate means to scrimp on footwear. Shoes are the only mandatory expense; all else is optional. (The Bay Area, naturally, has a club for barefoot hikers; still waiting to hear about the one for naked hikers).

The guy at the store told me there’d be some break-in time on these guys because they’re mostly made of leather. No big deal, I figured, I’d just wear ’em to work for a few days, then do a few easy hikes, no big hurry … it’s months till prime backpacking season.

It was good plan, but the boots didn’t get the memo.

I got my feet used to them for a few days at home, wore ’em to work a couple days, then wore them on my Sunol hike on Feb. 26 (three Saturdays ago). I walked six miles over varied terrain and they were fine — not a blister in sight. Then I took ’em out for a Mission Peak hike the next day and noticed the left boot was digging into a tender area right above the ankle on the exterior side. Mind you this is not stiff leather, it’s the supposedly soft ankle padding, but it still hurts when it rubs. Like a moron I hiked to the top and back anyway, and by the time I got done, my lower leg and the boot were in open warfare.

The boot didn’t show the courtesy of leaving a blister, which would’ve at least been visible. No, it bruised the tissue underneath, leaving a big welt that took five days to heal. I tried it on every morning until it stopped causing pain above my left ankle, and then went back up Mission Peak and down. Naturally, this time right boot started giving me fits in the same place on my right leg, just above the ankle. It took another week for that welt to heal up, which brought me to last week’s hike at the Pinnacles. I took no chances; the new boots stayed home.

I wore ’em to work all last week and they felt fine, though. Today I did another Mission Peak hike, and I can now say with firm conviction that these bastards are finally broken in.

It’s not like the boots are the culprit here, of course. I’ve never owned boots that go way up over the ankle like these, so my legs weren’t accustomed to the pressure the boots put on the upper ankle region. Once the welts healed and the tissue toughened up, everything was fine. But it sure felt like a battle till that happened.