Month: January 2017 (page 1 of 2)

Soft Star Custom Original RunAmocs

Shown in the photo below is my newest footwear from Soft Star Shoes. These are a custom pair of Soft Star’s original RunAmoc running moccasins. They’re size 11 in the wide width with flint-colored leather for the front and back of the shoe and black leather for the saddle.  The laces are used to cinch the foot opening closed around the ankle.  There are three different sole options available for this shoe: Trail (5mm Vibram), Street (2mm Vibram), or Bullhide leather.  I chose the 5mm Vibram Trail sole for these moccasins.

I own several other pairs of Soft Star shoes, including a number of pairs of the Dash RunAmoc (which looks more like a conventional shoe), a pair of Roo moccasins, and a pair of Hawthorne Chukkas. I had originally dismissed the original RunAmoc as too weird looking.  However, after purchasing Roo moccasins for myself and several members of my family, I began to wonder what it’d be like to hike with them.  The Roo moccasins have a suede leather sole and stain very easily when worn outside.  I decided to reserve my Roo mocs for inside use and got a pair of original RunAmocs for outdoor use.  Of course, now I’m wondering what it’d be like to hike with a pair having the bullhide sole.  (I may test this by doing a hike in my Dash RunAmocs with the bullhide leather sole.)

On the day that I took this photo, I hiked nine miles with the RunAmocs shown in the picture.  I especially enjoyed the rocky ridge line of the Scenic Trail in McDowell Mountain Park – walking over the rocks provides a marvelous foot massage. I had previously worn them for a 2.25 mile (test) hike on the day that I got them. Despite being kind of baggy in the heel area, it didn’t cause me any problems or blisters (anywhere).

I have a lot of experience hiking with the Dash RunAmoc.  Hiking with the original RunAmoc is quite similar, though I do feel as though there’s more room in the shoe for my toes.  The toe area of the Dash RunAmoc is quite tight when new, though within a few uses the leather stretches to conform to your toes. The fact that the laces pull the opening around the ankles closed in the original RunAmoc also helps to keep rocks and sand from entering.  When I wear my Dash RunAmocs, I wear trail running gaiters to help prevent this from happening.

Based on my experience with the Dash RunAmoc, I expect that the original RunAmocs will (also):

  1. Resist thorns in both the soles and the uppers.  The soles are among the thinnest of any of the minimalist shoes that I own, but are, in my experience, the most thorn resistant.  With regard to the uppers, I have found that jumping cholla do not stick to the smooth leather uppers.  (This is why I did not choose suede for the uppers.  While I do think that suede would have a more outdoorsy look, they’re both harder to keep clean and will more readily allow thorned plants to stick to the upper.)
  2. Keep my feet from getting dusty. When it gets hot and dry in Arizona, certain trails get churned up to the point where it looks like cake mix.  This fine clay dust easily sifts through mesh uppers of other outdoor shoes that I own.  The relatively solid leather of these moccasins will keep the dust out.
  3. Provide good traction on loose surfaces. The Vibram trail soles on these shoes perform the best of all of the stock soles of all of the minimalist shoes that I own.  The only ones which are better are the shoes which I’ve had resoled with 5.10 Stealth rubber.
  4. Not stink. My various Soft Star shoes have all remained pleasant smelling regardless of age.

Tech Loop Drop Clinic

On Saturday, Joe and I did a short hike in the Competitive Track Area of McDowell Mountain Park.  We came across a small group of riders who were participating in a mountain biking skills clinic.  We came across them as they were learning about how to negotiate the second drop at the beginning of the Technical Loop.  Below is a photo of one of the students rolling the drop.

Friday Fitness Hike

Bob, Bill, Nancy, and I hiked 13.5 miles in the Tom’s Thumb Area.  We hiked these trails (in order): Tom’s Thumb, East End, Windmill, Bell Pass, Prospector, Thompson Peak service road, Dixie Mine, Coachwhip, Pemberton, Boulder, Marcus Landslide, Feldspar, and Tom’s Thumb.

The day was cool and windy.  We saw a thin layer of ice on some of the puddles on our drive to the trailhead.

A view of Gardener’s Wall and Tom’s Thumb from the Tom’s Thumb Trail:

Dead Tree near the East End Trail:

A rock outcropping near the East End Trail:

Bill, Bob, and Nancy hiking down the East End Trail:

A view from the Bell Pass Trail:

Many saguaros on a hillside above the Prospector Trail:

Another view from the Propsector Trail:

A view from the Dixie Mine Trail:

When hiking down the Coachwhip Trail from the Dixie Mine Trail, a substantial wash is encountered just before the trail heads up again. (At the top of the hill is the intersection with the Windmill Trail.)  This giant saguaro used to tower above all of the other vegetation in the wash.  It appears that the recent rain softened the soil holding the saguaro in place.  I would guess that strong winds caused it to topple.

A view from the Coachwhip Trail as we approached the intersection with the Windmill Trail:

Another view from the Coachwhip Trail as we made our way towards the Pemberton Trail:

A view from the Pemberton Trail of snow capped mountains in the Mazatzal Wilderness:

A view of the Granite Ballroom (which is a climbing area) from the Boulder Trail:

Shallmo Wash

This is Shallmo Wash on Wednesday evening…

Tuesday Night Sunset

Sunday Hike Photos

Marilyn, Nancy, Nick, and I hiked the Pass Mountain Trail at Usery Mountain Regional Park on Sunday.

Nick, hiking to the top of the pass:

Look for mountain bikers at bottom of photo…

Looking back at the pass:

Marilyn, Nick, and Nancy:

Chuparosa blossoms:

Friday Fitness Hike

Bob, Mike, Nick, Nancy, and I hiked a little over 13 miles starting from the Horse Staging Area.  We hiked the Long Loop to the South Wash, then went northwest up the South Wash until we got to the Dixie Mine Trail. We hiked back via Dixie Mine, Pemberton, Stoneman Wash, and the Technical Loop.

A small hawk – we think – on an ocotillo as we walked over to the Competitive Track parking lot.

A hole in the rock near the “Thread the Needle” portion of the Long Loop. Despite having passed this point numerous times, I’d never noticed this hole before.

A tree overhanging our route up the South Wash…

Nick pointed out the remains of a tree on a bank of the wash:

Another view of the South Wash; some of the banks are very high!

A very textured portion of the wash…

Another section with steep banks…

An interesting rock…

Nick, Mike, Bob, and Nancy on the Pemberton Trail:

Desert Mistletoe berries:

A storm over the McDowells – we hiked through light rain during perhaps the last third of our hike.

An ocotillo blosssom:

Outdoor Kitty

This cat visited us (on our patio) several times during December. I haven’t seen it recently though.


Saturday Hike Photos

Marilyn and I hiked portions of the Dixie Mine and Sonoran trails on our Saturday hike.






Friday Fitness Hike

Eight of us, Bill, Bill, Heather, Janet, Bob, Linda, Nancy, and I hiked a loop of somewhat over twelve miles.  We hiked: Tortoise, Pemberton, Tonto Tank, Pemberton, Boulder, Marcus Landslide, Rock Knob, Pemberton, Bluff Wash, Granite, Wagner.

Dead tree on the Tortoise Trail:20170113-_DSC2276-Edit-medium

View of Weaver’s Needle and the Flatiron from the Pemberton Trail:


A small wash which feeds into Stoneman Wash, near where Pemberton descends into the wash:

Hiking up the Tonto Tank Trail…


Heather, Bill, Linda, Nancy, Bob, Janet, Bill, and Kevin in front of the McDowells:


I think this is Turpentine Bush:


A view from the Boulder Trail:


A large boulder on the Marcus Landslide Trail:


Sven Slab:


Chain fruit cholla in the foreground; Rock Knob behind them and to the left; Four Peaks in the distance:


Another view from the Rock Knob Trail:


Approaching the park boundary on the Rock Knob Trail:


Back in McDowell Mountain Park now; another view from the Rock Knob Trail:


Hiking down Bluff Wash: