Monday, February 18, 2008

My Cunning* Moccasins

I finished my new pair of moccasins yesterday. They feel great. They feel like thick socks in a way. I customized them to my feet. There's no need to break them in! Three of my crew mates are still working on theirs. We pooled money to buy the materials so we could get a better deal. The materials cost about $25 but there is lots of extra material left over.

I based my pattern on the second one on this webpage: NativeTech. Each moccasin comprises four pieces of leather plus one leather lace. I used buffalo leather for the sole which is about twice as thick as the golden colored deer leather that makes up the rest (upper, cuff, tongue).

Thick buffalo leather for the sole makes the moccasin more durable and comfortable especially in the desert where there exist more prickily plants. Since it is less flexible and more expensive than deer leather I didn't use if for the whole moccasin.

I purposely made the sole piece wrap up off the ground both to protect my feet, but more importantly to protect the stitching. I hope the stitching will last longer since it shouldn't be touching the ground much. The thread is actually artificial thread used for making bowstring so I'm not too worried about it. Another advantage of this design is that when the sole wears out I can replace it without having to make a whole new pair of mocassins. I already cut up a back up pair of soles for this purpose.

As shown in the pattern on the NativeTech page, the edge of the upper piece is folded over before it is stitched to the sole. The thread goes through the upper piece twice before attaching to the sole. This makes for a sturdier connection. In the picture below you can see this.

This picture makes it look like I have a clown shoe on.

For the lacing, I cut a long thin strip of leather. I chose to have the mocassins lace up like shoes. The lace zig-zags through the tongue piece and pulls the cuff piece tight. I like this style because no lacing has to wrap around the back of my heel or leg. My first pair of mocassins had a lacing that wrapped around my achiles tendon which was awkward for movement.

While I'm not thrilled about the golden yellow color (I was hoping it would be colored more like the sole), I am pleased with the design, fit and comfort. I plan to try them out in the field soon.

*Inside joke: When playing our homemade game of Apples to Apples, my green card was "cunning" to which "moccasins" was my best option.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Hitch #8: North Algodones Dunes

The work we did on this hitch was water monitoring again so I wasn't going to post about it, but it was kinda awesome because we spent one day in sand dunes.

It was one of my favorite days of hiking because the weather was warm enough to go shirtless and shoeless. The sand felt so nice on my feet. Another cool thing about the dunes is how easy it is to track animals there. One rabbit we spooked left a pretty amazing trail with a distance of 10 feet or more between one set of tracks. The most common things we saw were beetles that left a trail that looked like a bicycle track.

Rosy and I spent a lot of time playing around in the dunes. Some were 25 feet or more tall. I liked to jump off them knowing that I'd have a soft landing.

It was cool to finally experience the type of ecosystem so often thought of when the word "desert" comes to mind.

Calling the rain

Today I hope to finish my new moccassins which I will post about next.