My first pair of Ariat Cascade ropers took me through two years of college, three motorcycles, a handful of relationships, my first job, and a wildfire. That's why I bought them, that wildfire. Working as a photographer for a little newspaper was enough to secure a proper press credential, allowing me to shoot on the frontlines during one of California's more epic fire seasons. In those days, you just needed that press credential, a quick safety class, and a pair of leather boots with an eight-inch leather upper. The forest service would dredge up a Nomex suit and a fire shelter and hope your good sense would carry you through.