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. There are no signs. There is no shade. The route traverses dry riverbed, sand, rocks, brush and water. 

The journey can take between 12 to 16 hours, cover 12 to 16 miles roundtrip and may require swimming 1 to 6 miles depending on the flow of the river. The route, water conditions and heat index may vary at different times of the year. The water may be clear and clean or murky and contain bacteria. One must be prepared and equipped for self-rescue, there is no cellular service near the access points nor the entire route.

Here's our story... 


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

Due consideration should be given to the landowners and their property rights. If you park illegally your car may be towed and you will be stranded. If you trespass on someone's land you may be fined up to $2,000 and receive a jail term up to 180 days. Follow the law and you should have no problems. Stray from the law and you may have issues. 

DO NOT attempt this journey during the summer. There is no shade on the riverbed. The riverbed is 10+ degrees hotter than the air temperature. 

DO NOT attempt this journey prior, during or after a rain; the river may flash flood.

DO NOT attempt this journey unless you are physically fit and can hike 20+ miles in one day.

Tread Lightly and Leave No Trace principles should be practiced. This means carrying a WAG bag and carrying out your poop. 💩 You will be traveling through a sensitive natural area, be respectful of the plants and wildlife.

There is no cellular service near the access points nor along the entire route. If you do attempt this hike be prepared with the proper conditioning, gear, food, water, water filter, sun protection and self-rescue equipment. One must be prepared and equipped for self-rescue. There are no bail out exits. There is no cellular service near the access points nor along the entire route.  

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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