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Finding The Narrows

Last weekend my girl friends and I went in search of The Narrows; a mystical swimming hole said to exist somewhere outside of Blanco, Tx. This blog talks about what it took to get there and how you can find them too.

 

When we started out Saturday morning we honestly weren't sure if we would find the Narrows, or if they would be completely dried up like many of the swimming holes in the surrounding areas. The devastation of climate change is so real and apparent in the hill country. It's so sad to see how it's affected the beautiful landscape of this state over the years.


For weeks leading up to the trip my friends were researching how to get to The Narrows. I literally did no research. They sent me articles and their findings, and I hardly glanced at them because I was swamped with other things. From the beginning I was just along for the ride. They found a Facebook group (what would the world do without Facebook?) and several obscure articles/blogs about the coveted swimming hole. In the Facebook group, the posts about actually making it to the Narrows were few and far between. There was a span of several years between some posts so it was hard to tell how accurate they were.


Some of the posts from several years ago, talked about how they had to hike through water and even swim at times to get to The Narrows. However, the severe drought that we're in has caused other swimming holes like Jacob's Well to completely dry up. Also, Hamilton Pool has been closed for swimming for months now. We were afraid that we were going to get to the Narrows and there would be nothing left. If you haven't been out in the hill country in a while the rivers are bone dry, and The Narrows are located in the middle of the Blanco River. The Guadalupe and the Blanco River (outside of the dam at the state park) don't have as much as a puddle of water in them, even after the hard rain we got recently. There was no telling what we would find.


According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife website over 93% of the state is private land, that includes the land surrounding the portion of the Blanco River in which The Narrows reside. This means that the only way to get to The Narrows is by hiking through the river. And let me tell you, the local land owners don't take kindly to people trying to get to The Narrows. Some of the stories my friends read were of hikers getting harassed by land owners and even getting the cops called on them for trespassing. Nothing came of the police en counter because the hikers were doing nothing wrong by hiking in the riverbed. For those who don't know, "Texas courts have recognized that a member of the public may engage in a variety of activities in, on, and along a public lake or stream. Besides boating, persons may swim, float, walk, wade, picnic, camp, and (with a license) fish." This is a quote from the Texas Parks and Wildlife website on their Texas Rivers Guide. The entirety of the Blanco River falls into the Public Stream category.

The launch point for The Narrows is a low water crossing bridge on road 407 about 5 miles outside of town. There are tons of signs all along this road that say if you park there your car will be towed by Blanco County. We naively didn't think we wouldn't be able to park right next to the launch point. So drove back into town to the local grocery store to park my Jeep and hitched a ride with Uber. I don't know that I would recommend taking an Uber to the launch point though. They are few and far between in that area and it took us 45 minutes to find one then another 25 minutes for it to get to us. Actually, we nearly gave up on the whole expedition. And on the way back it took about the same amount of time. We were fully ready to have to hitch hike back into town. Which I think sounded kind of fun to all of us. What I would recommend though is parking at the store and riding bikes to the launch point, then stashing them in the riverbed off the road. However, this would give you a 10 mile round trip bike ride on top of the 15 mile round trip hike. Yes, getting to and from The Narrows was just under 15 miles.


That brings me to the hike itself. As you may have guessed, this is not an easy day hike. If you are planning on taking this trek you need to be prepared for a very long day. Other than the riverbed there is no trail to follow. You're not walking along a well padded down path that thousands of other people have walked along. You're paving you own trail through a riverbed. The rocks are loose and abundant, and at one point we were walking through grass up to our shoulders. Each of my friends and I all had more than one tumble that left us checking to see if we twisted an ankle. Luckily, none of us did but my ankles were sore for 4 days after the hike. As saddened as I was to see the river dried up I was very glad to not have to swim and hike through the water to get there. That would have made this trek incredibly difficult.


Along the way there you'll come up to 4 different fences going directly across the river. The first two are easy to get through however the second two are not. There is a very small opening on the second two fences that my friends and I had to pass our packs through and then scoot our bellies on the ground to get through. This is actually illegal by the way. According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife (scroll down to Is It Lawful To Fence a Stream?) website the Texas law says, "Since the public has a general right to walk... in a public stream, a landowner has no right to erect or maintain a fence that interferes with those lawful activities... Additionally, it is a crime to restrict, obstruct, interfere with or limit public recreational use of a navigable stream."


I want to bring this up because if you do happen to be approached by law enforcement or a disgruntled landowner you can bring this fact up and let them know that you're actually not the one who is breaking the law. Luckily, my friends and I did not see any land owners while on our trip.


Since we were getting a late start my friends and I decided to run every other half mile out to The Narrows. It took us a total of 2.5 hours to go 7.25 miles. Although the land is relatively flat the terrain was difficult to navigate and the riverbed undulated a ton! Again, this is NOT an easy day hike. But it was worth every brush scratch and rolled ankle.


Everything my friends read online, remember I didn't do any research I was just there, said that the spot was 7 miles out. So right at the 7 mile mark we started looking and couldn't find anything. The terrain at this part of the river is very difficult to traverse. There are loads of big boulders and carved out rocks that are 8 feet plus tall. We kept walking but started to lose hope when after 7 miles we still hadn't found them. We did find some small pools of water between some tall rocks and thought that maybe that was the remnants of what once was. But finally we saw a large crevasse in the rock off to the right; it looked as if there was some slimy green water in it. We approached and slowly realized that we were standing at the opening of The Narrows! We made it!


We snapped a few pics, then removed our packs and scurried down into the crevasse. We were in awe of the serenity. Naturally, we had to jump in and ruin it. The water was the perfect temperature. A few degrees warmer than Barton Springs. The limestone rock walls, that were covered in green fern, rose high up overhead making the sky look so far away. The Narrows were simply incredible and we had them all to ourselves. I could have spent hours swimming in the 30' deep pools.


On our way back our legs were Jell-o and our hearts were full. It took us 3 hours to walk back to the low water bridge crossing. Sitting in the riverbed waiting for an Uber to come get us we talked about how sad we would have been had we given up earlier that morning.


I love these girls with all my heart. I don't know many people who would say yes to going out on an adventure like this and I'm so glad to have them in my life. They challenge me to be adventurous and they're some of the most badass women I know. Find yourself some friends like mine and you'll never stop seeing new things. I can't wait for the next ladies camping trip.










 

Thank you so much for reading! If you liked that story do me a favor and let me know in the comments below or share it with a friend. If you have questions about getting to The Narrows or want more info leave a comment and I'll answer as soon as I can.


For more content from this story head over to my Instagram: SoFast_Sonya

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