Some friends and I took a trip to The Narrows on the Blanco River in Texas. It is a gem.
However getting there was no easy task.
This trip is physically, logistically and legally challenging. The Narrows is on the Blanco River, but is surrounded by private property. There is no trail. The route traverses dry riverbed, sand, rocks, brush and water. The journey can take between 12 to 16 hours, cover 6 to 8 miles in and 6 to 8 miles out and may require swimming 1 to 3 miles in and 1 to 3 miles out depending on the flow of the river. The route and conditions may vary at different times of the year. One must be prepared and equipped for self-rescue, there is no cellular service near the access points nor along the river.
There are two ways to access The Narrows. 1. Obtain permission from one of the property owners with land bordering the river. Or, 2. Access the river via a public right of way and hike and swim the entire route.
Texas Navigation Law specifies access to inland and coastal waters as “public rights and duties” specifically recognized by the Texas Constitution.
We chose option 2 - to access the river via a public right of way and hike on the dry riverbed and swim in the river to reach the section of the river called The Narrows.
We had someone in our group scout the logistics in advance and identify some options. On the day of the trip our first option was not available, our second option was not available, but our third option worked out.
Here's how we did it...
DO NOT attempt this journey prior, during or after a rain - the river may flash flood. Tread Lightly and Leave No Trace principles should be practiced. Due consideration should be given to the property owners and their property rights.
For the Hike and Swim option, one has to 1. Park legally (or your car may be towed), 2. Access the river at a public right of way, and 3. Stay on the riverbed or river the entire way (or you may be ticketed for trespassing). Follow the law and you should have no problems. Stray from the law and you may have issues. The county, sheriff and property owners would prefer that people not access the river because the journey is a bit risky, can be dangerous and no one wants someone to get injured nor die. There is no cellular service near the access points nor along the river.
Out of respect for the property owners I am not posting parking nor access locations.
Experience hikers should be able to locate the access points and route. If you are not able to locate this information on your own, you might reconsider attempting this trip. If you do attempt this hike be prepared with the proper gear, food, water, water filter, sun protection and self-rescue equipment. One must be prepared and equipped for self-rescue, there is no cellular service near the access points nor along the river.
My gear list:
Gregory Inertia hydration backpack 3 liter capacity
Nalgene bottle 16oz capacity for mixing electrolytes
Sawyer Squeeze water filter
Bluewater 8mm rope 30ft
Adventure first aid kit
Gerber folding knife
Midland two-way radios
Garmin inReach gps and location beacon
Black Diamond trekking poles
Black Diamond waterproof headlamp
OZ Outdoor Gear sun hoodie
OZ Trucker hat
Altra Superior trail running shoes
Darn Tough socks
Water 3 to 4 liters
Clif energy bars or Food
Nuun electrolytes tablets
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