Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Narrows on the Blanco River in Texas

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 and logistically 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 the entire route.

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 our story... 

Out of respect for the property owners I am not posting parking nor access locations.

DO NOT attempt this journey during the summer.

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.

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. There is no cellular service near the access points nor along the entire route.

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.

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
Goodr sunglasses
Altra Superior trail running shoes
Darn Tough socks

Water 3 to 4 liters
Clif energy bars or Food
Nuun electrolytes tablets

Follow my adventures on Instagram @troyfromtexas

Friday, September 6, 2019

The Canyonlands - A Backpacking Journey in Utah

A car ride + airplane flight + car ride and we stepped into another world.

I found the perfect place to cowboy camp and sleep under the stars on this backpacking trip to Utah. During this trip we visited Dead Horse Point State Park, Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. Inside of Canyonlands NP we hiked through The Needles district which is only accessible by foot.

What I used for cowboy camping:
Thermorest Parsec 20 sleeping bag
Thermorest Neo Air Xlite sleeping pad
Sea to Summit Ultrasil Nano poncho tarp
Canyonlands cave

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Skinners Sock Shoe Review

I recently acquired a pair of Skinners. What?

Skinners are a new type of sock shoe that the company claims are useful for traveling, walking, running, hiking, biking, workouts, yoga and water sports. 

I decided to put these Skinners to the test on a recent trip hiking and fly fishing. Check out the video.

Skinners are basically a sock covered on the sole with a durable polymer. They offer the comfort of a sock and the protection of a minimalist sole similar to an ultralight barefoot style shoe. 

The sock shoes are made in Europe with an inner layer that is a combination of natural and synthetic fibers woven together into a durable sock. The inner layer material is wicking, insulating and comfortable like a sock. The outer layer is made of a 2mm anti-abrasive polymer that forms a light thin grippy protective barrier.  Each pair weighs about 2.8 ozs. and are machine washable.

I first tried on the Skinners in the comfort of my home. I walked around on my hardwood floors and realized that they did provide good traction on my normally slippery floor. I immediately thought that they might come in handy in the winter as a sort of house slipper.

I then ventured outside into my backyard where I have a concrete patio often covered in pecan shells. I have a pecan tree in my backyard and squirrels love to eat the pecans and leave the shells on my patio. Squirrels have no manners. Anyways, the Skinners did protect my feet from the cracked open jagged pointy pecan shells. I could still feel the shells under my foot, but I could walk over them. 

Finally, I decided to wear the Skinners on a little hiking and fly fishing trip. 

Hiking from the car to the river I had to traverse some concrete, compacted dirt, sand and rocks. The Skinners held up well across most of the surfaces. When I was walking over the combination of sand and rocks the Skinners performed well. I would say that when I walked over a hard surface with small rocks, I could feel the rocks poking my foot. 

I ventured from the land to water. The socks are socks, so they got wet. The polymer soles were flexible enough to allow my feet to feel and move around the rocks. I was pleasantly surprised that the soles gripped the slimy surface of algae covered rocks excellent. I never slipped nor felt unstable. 

I passed by some natural springs where water emerged from the ground at a temperature of about 68 degrees to feed the river. The Skinners insulated well and my feet never felt cold. 

Overall the Skinners performed as expected while I walked over land and through the water. However, after departing the water I realized that I was wearing a pair of wet soggy socks. Hmmmmmm. I don't know if I'd use them for fly fishing again because it takes them some time to dry out. I would use them after fly fishing when my feet often crave something light, dry and warm. 

My final analysis is that the Skinners Sock Shoes are a unique offering that I will use for specific but somewhat limited use. I could not envision myself using them for extended hiking, running, biking or fly fishing. I don't think that my feet are strong enough nor conditioned enough for wearing the sock shoes for those activities. I could see myself using them for lounging around the house, chilling at a campsite or maybe wearing them inside a hotel while traveling. Perhaps my Skinners might be most useful as casual footwear around the house and to help strengthen my feet for outdoor pursuits similar to other barefoot style footwear.

To Buy:
Amazon - Skinners

For More Info:

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