May2018

Summer’s here: Time for some buffalo wool socks?

 

Fishing amongst giants

A man amongst giants

It’s that time of year again, when the annual pilgrimage of the Firehole Rangers looms large like a bull bison standing over a fallen touron. Fishing opens inside the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, and for me it is the gateway trip to summer trout fishing, my favorite fishing season of the year. I like to be warm when I’m fishing, and summer offers that.

Late May/early June in Yellowstone is the time of year when, despite the occasional late Spring snow storm, the weather is often quite enjoyable. The herds of cow bison with their calves meander without a care in the world, grazing on new sprouts of tender green grass. The bison seem rather content, as well they should be, for it is a good time of year to be alive.

A good time of year in Yellowstone.

A good time of year in Yellowstone.

But it wasn’t all that many weeks ago that winter still had its grip on the Yellowstone area, and winter is a serious matter here: long, and very, very cold. As I’ve stood along the banks of the Firehole River in the past, I’ve tried to imagine this place during the dead of winter.

Spring in Yellowstone.

Spring in Yellowstone.

Even during a Spring snowstorm I can’t quite wrap my head around the severity of winter here. It boggles my mind to think that critters like bison can survive many months of brutal cold, where daytime temps range from zero to 20F and sub-zero  temperatures are common, especially at night. And what of the snowfall, that can average 150 inches per year (more in higher elevations)? Withstanding the cold is one thing, finding enough food to keep them energized enough to survive is another. Bison are amazing animals. Their wool has incredible insulating qualities. It has to be in order for them to survive Yellowstone’s harsh winters.

Fishing a woolly bugger next to woolly beasts

Fishing a woolly bugger next to woolly beasts

According to The Buffalo Wool Company, bison wool is “Soft enough to wrap a baby in, tough enough to keep a mountain man warm in a blizzard.”

A handful of wool

A handful of bison

That may be true, but I am neither baby nor mountain man. Just an unaccomplished angler. I do, however, appreciate warm feet during the winter season, and as I’ve gotten older and more “wambly” (according to my buddy Large Albacore), I’ve struggled to find socks that keep my toes warm when standing knee deep in a steelhead river in Fall and late winter. Or how about a trout stream in February, when cabin fever drives an angler to such desperate measures as high stick nymphing for catatonic trout in the dead of winter? Enter the Advantage Trekker Bison/Merino Boot Socks by The Buffalo Wool Company. These babies are like buffalo blankets for the feet, and everything the proprietors say is true:

“Not to toot our own horns, but these are probably the most effective use of bison fiber. The ultra soft, very crimpy bison fiber creates warmth, is extremely moisture wicking, and keeps feet comfortable and dry. Bison offers superior breathability, temperature regulation and natural odor resistance. These socks have a stay-in-place fit, flex zones for added mobility, targeted heavy cushioning, and long-wear durability, making them an ideal addition to any outdoor lover’s wardrobe.”

The Buffalo Wool Company

The Buffalo Wool Company

These socks are super warm for outdoor winter pursuits, but they’re also comfortable to wear sitting around the house during the cold months (the very reasonable cost of the socks—$38.00—sure beats the cost of paying to run the furnace all winter long).  And because they are a generous boot length sock, they also look great with sandals.

Birks and bison

Bison and Birks

When The Buffalo Wool Company contacted me to see if they could send me a pair of their socks in exchange for mention of their product on my blog, I harkened immediately back to a scene from Dances With Wolves:

These tatanka wool socks are sweet. Good trade, indeed.