Posts filed under ‘Nude Hikes’

>February Nude Hikes

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On the viewpoint atop the Upper Wall above Index, WA.
 It is a sheer 1,200ft drop from the edge.
So . . . the snows are back . . . la Nina doing her thing.  But we did get at brief warming spell at the beginning of the month and a few opportunities to get out and hike nude.
The highlight was the exploration of the Index Town Walls, a promenade of sheer granite cliffs and crags that is relatively unknown outside of the rock climbing community.  I came across them by accident while driving the Index-Reiter road route looking for possibilities to get in a hike . . . came across this small gravel parking lot full of cars and . . . wondered.  Was this the trailhead assemblage for the rumored-about cliffs?
It was but it took several trips and some exploring to figure out the layout . . . and an eventual hike nude to the top and a marvelous lookout over the town of Index and the mountains surrounding.  Unlike the brave folk who endangered their lives by climbing the sheer granite faces, I stumbled upon the trail to the top in a less technical fashion.  And I had it all to myself.
I did a few other hikes off the Index-Galena road plus a visit to Scenic Hot Springs and a logging road near Grotto.  Cold weather hiking but nonetheless, challenged and invigorating.

The jAblum of these hikes is here.

March 5, 2011 at 5:09 pm Leave a comment

>Boss Creek Nude Rain Hike

> . . . well, actually more of a stroll as it was short, aimless and I was certainly not in a hurry to go anywhere.

Anyway, working on my hiking legs and stamina and a real desire just to get out there and feel good.  Enjoy . . . I did.

The rest of the album is here.

February 7, 2011 at 8:09 am Leave a comment

>My First Nude Hike of 2011-The Backtrail by Scenic Creek Falls

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Entering the back trail on the way down to the lower Scenic Creek Falls
My fellow steward at Scenic Hot Springs has been keeping me up to date of the conditions up there (myself not able to visit because of cancer issues).  The other day he called to give me news on a landslide at Scenic.  The way he described the mess tempted me to attempt an impromptu visit to Scenic . . . so off I went . . . dressed against the cold.
I never did make it all the way up to the springs, dallying around the site of the slide.  The damage to the BPA road surfaces was significant as can be seen in my Scenic Hot Springs blog post, Winter Storm Damage at Scenic Hot Springs.
Coming back down I like to take the back route via the lower Scenic Creek waterfalls.  On a lark I decided to try the last mile or so nude.  So off came the clothes . . . heavy parka, fleece outers, thermal underwear.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to enjoy hiking the way I like to so this was very refreshing despite the air temperatures hovering just below freezing . . . and dropping as the sun set lower.  What really surprised me was how easily my body took the cold weather.  No shivering or feelings of cold whatsoever.    I have no explanations . . . I haven’t gone through any cold weather aclimization.  One note is, dressed as heavily as I was on the trek up, I did feel the chill.  Nude . . . colder out and minus all that unnecessary clothing, I felt entirely comfortable.  Makes one think . . . do we really need all those clothes, all the time to protect us from the elements.  Nude is entirely natural!
Anyway, I am now hungry for getting back out there and hiking nude.

The JAlbum Photo Album of this hike is here.

The photo album of the Winter Damage to the Scenic Hot Springs area is here.

February 4, 2011 at 3:23 pm Leave a comment

>Cold Weather Nude Hiking (Repost)

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Be Prepared When Nude Hiking in Cold Weather

Originally posted Thursday, January 17, 2008

A repost of this article for the upcoming cold weather die-hard . . . wish I was amongst you
36 degs F. and comfortable
I’ve gotten a few emails from readers wanting to get out there and hike nude in the snow. For most of us the mere thought of getting naked in near-freezing weather does not sound like very much fun, but I can assure you that the human body is very much capable of dealing with cold weather and the experience can actually be very comfortable, serene, invigorating and freeing. You just need to take some commonsense precautions. If that weren’t enough to get you out there, trails and routes that are otherwise too popular or overrun by textiles and families in the warmer months are often all yours with nary another soul to bother you (heck, the lack of tracks in the snow tells you no one is on the trail ahead of you!)

Perhaps I should call it “nude backpacking” as opposed to nude hiking or free-hiking. During the warmer months on shorter day routes I prefer to hike with the least amount of covering possible (a hat, hiking shoes and a fanny pack slung over my shoulder . . . sometimes absolutely nothing at all.) I’ve been known to take all my clothes off, stack them neatly and wander off completely naked as the day I was born. One writer describes that type of exercise as an epiphany for the now, newly converted nudist. You will never want to hike in any other form . . . except when the weather requires it.

In winter (or any weather that is likely to turn inclement) you’d be foolish to hike without the essentials to insure your survival should things go wrong. One reader commented on the size of my backpack, asking how much it weighed. Well, it does look big on my back but if you pack judiciously a ‘survival’ pack could weigh in about 15-25 lbs which is easily carried in a well-balanced backpack. For me, the most cold-sensitive portion of my anatomy is my back . . . a cold chill down the spine can instantly send me into shivers. Since the pack sits slung over my back I tend to stay warm in that area.

“Clothing” for when you need to warm up

Look at what it takes to keep you warm, dry and comfortable while standing in the snow next to your car at the trail-head and that is what you need to carry with you in your backpack. I pack (after I undress, no need to duplicate):

  • Thermal, wicking undergarments (remember, no cotton; it gets wet or soaked from perspiration and you freeze),
  • Two extra pairs of wool socks and an extra pair of wicking undersocks,
  • Wool Sweater (tight-weave, thick fiber has the best insulating properties and insulates even when wet),
  • Snow pants (insulated, the type you’d wear skiing or snowboarding),
  • Your windproof, water-resistant outer-shell parka,
  • A second pair of snow gloves or mittens,
  • A small towel to dry yourself off with should you get wet.
I carry these items in a 45-gal 3mil black plastic trash bag (the contractor cleanup type) stuffed back into the pack to keep them dry. The trash bag can serve double-duty as something to sit on, on wet ground or snow, an emergency shelter or as an impromptu poncho by poking three holes in the bottom and pulling it down over your head and arms. I also carry a second trash bag in the pack. Pack your clothes near the top where you can get at them easily should the weather get ugly or you need to warm up. A little trick . . . activate one or two of those foot or hand warmer packets and fold your inner clothes around them to keep them nice and warm for when you do need them.

Food

Food is an essential even if you are only going on a four-hour day hike. What would happen if you got lost or were forced to weather out a sudden snowstorm. I carry the following supplies in a separate ditty bag in the backpack:

  • 9- Top Ramen (easy to prepare comfort food to warm your soul, body and spirit),
  • 3 foil-sealed packages of tuna (for protein), one of the cellopaks of saltine crackers from the 4-pack boxes, an assortment of individual-serve mayo, relish and salt and pepper packs shamelessly stolen from BurgerKing,
  • 9 hot chocolate singles, baggies of instant coffee, creamer and sugar, a few plastic spoons and forks,
  • 4-5 large bars of chocolate; full of slow burning fats and sugar energy . . . the hikers friend and an essential when you are burning large amounts of calories to maintain your body temperature,
  • My whisper stove and a few canisters of butane (above 5,000 I would carry a multi-fuel stove as butane doesn’t work very well at altitude),
  • My trusty GI-mess kit,
  • The fire kit: A good supply of waterproof, strike-anywhere matches (make your own, coat matches in paraffin and store in a waterproof container. Add a striker surface (emery board, small piece of sandpaper). Add a 30-hour candle or two, a magnesium striker and tube of fire-starter paste and you should be able to light a fire in pretty much any situation.
I don’t expect to have to dig into the food bag on a day hike. It’s there on the off-chance that I’m going to have to survive on my own for a couple of days . . . and yes, I have. I overextended myself on one hike into the Glacier Wilderness, running out of daylight to the point where I had to stop and make camp out of my emergency supplies. It can (and will) happen.

I always practice bear-protocol, even when any sensible bear should be hibernating in winter. The food bag has a 50 ft length of strong nylon cord inside that can be used to raise it up out of bear reach. The cord would come in handy for a lot of other uses, as well.

Paraphernalia in the Outer Pouches

In the outer pouches of my pack I carry the paraphernalia of modern society. The most important one a First Aid Kit. The first aid kit doesn’t have to be elaborate but should have a few hiker’s-essential supplies like moleskin for blisters, band-aids, ointments, gauze pads, some safety pins, etc. to cover the typical scrapes and bruises all hikers get. I carry the old style styptic pencil that shaver’s use to use to stop minor scratches from bleeding. A small roll of duct tape in the pack along with a couple of emergency mylar space blankets cover many other potential repair and emergency situations.

I carry my cell phone, my camera and my GPS unit when I hike. When I hike with friends I also like to hike with a set of FRS radios to stay in contact. I also carry one of those neon headlamps for nighttime use. All of these require batteries. You should have a set of backup batteries for all items and you should try to keep these batteries protected from the cold. Cold drains a battery in half the normal time.

In another pouch I carry my maps and charts, compass and a few other essential items.

My Bear Deterrent spray and my hunting knife seem to permanently be on the belt of my backpack. I leave them there . . . never had to use the spray.

On the back rigging I carry a small, collapsing snow shovel.

Water

While it may seem that with snow all around there is no need to carry a lot of water, dehydration is a serious problem for cold-weather hikers . . . and even more for nude, cold-weather hikers. Very cold air is also very dry air, as moisture condenses out with dropping temperature. That dry air sucks moisture from your skin and breath very efficiently. Constant hydration is very important. So three important points:

  1. Carry plenty of water and be prepared to obtain more. My backpack has a three-liter hydration bladder built into it, which is normal enough for the typical day hike. A hose snakes out of the top of the pack within easy reach to draw a sip on. I also carry a Sweetwater Filter to filter water from opportune sources along the trail. Try to avoid eating snow to hydrate yourself as all you’re doing is lowering core body temperature to melt that snow. The hiker’s rule-of-thumb for sufficient hydration is that if you are urinating clear you are sufficiently hydrated.
  2. Your exhalations are the largest source of dehydration in cold weather. Just look at your breath and see all that moisture condensing to a fog. You should avoid breathing through your mouth in cold weather . . . your nostrils are far more efficient at retaining body heat and moisture. Cold weather often induces a stuffy nose so carry decongestants in your first aid kit.
  3. Your skin transpires as much water out of your body in cold dry air, as it does trying to stay cool during hot weather. You lose both water and body heat. An answer I’ve found is that if your keep your skin moisturized ahead of time you will feel a whole lot warmer and less chill-bound (a sign that your skins is transpiring moisture). Take care of your skin and it will take care of you. Moisturizing your skin also makes it somewhat water-repellent . . . melted snow flakes and rain will ball and roll off your skin quickly without wetting large areas. Remember, water conducts heat away 50 times more efficiently than air.

    When I shower I liberally moisturize myself with simple ole baby oil . . . mineral oil. You can find fragrance-free baby oil if the aroma seems too childish . . . doesn’t bother me. The treatment makes my skin feel alive and aware. Prior to a hike I rub in some of the leftover suntan lotion I always seem to accumulate in squeeze tubes in my car. The lotions have an efficient moisturized content as well as the UV-protection . . . which mustn’t be forgotten, even in winter.

What this Nude Hiker typically wears on a cold weather hike

You’ve got your backpack set, you’ve reached a spot where you feel the desire to be free of the bulky clothes and hike naturally. Put as much attention to undressing and packing for need as you did for the rest of your supplies. Despite how careful I try to be, I have fallen through weakened snow-bridges on several occasions and appreciate being able to find dry clothing quickly in my backpack to warm up. Set your pack down where it won’t get wet or tip over and carefully undress and fold your clothes in a logical order . . . the order you’d want to retrieve them in a hurry. The last item to come off should be your top . . . gives you a chance to acclimatize yourself to the sudden cold, which is a shock to everyone. You will quickly warm as your metabolism kicks into higher gear.

With my clothes packed safely away and the backpack slung over my back, this is what I’m typically wearing from top on down:

  • A knit wool cap (60% of your body heat is lost through the top of your head; more for balding people like me. That is a fact . . . wear a hat!),
  • Sunglasses on a retainer around my neck. Snow blindness is not fun! Get a good pair of mountain glasses,
  • The pack on my back. I typically do not belt mine as the weight is easy to carry and I enjoy the extra skin exposure,
  • My thermos in a water-resistant carrier bag looped over head and shoulder. I either fill mine with hot chocolate or coffee. Coffee is a no-no, as it’s a diuretic but I love my coffee,
  • My digital camera attached to a very light-weight collapsing tripod slips into the side rigging of my backpack. With exposed metal surfaces, try coating with the plastic dip used for tools. Helps to prevent cold-contact discomfort when you have to handle those metal surfaces,
  • Gloves. Mine are thermal Thinsulate gloves which convert to mittens easily yet give the dexterity of a warm glove. Fingers, poorly supplied with blood, are quickly affected by the cold,
  • Two pairs of socks (an inner wicking pair under woolen hiking socks) keep your feet warm and dry, and resist blisters as the two pairs slide against each other rather than your feet,
  • A good pair of leather hiking boots . . . pre-worked in and treated with water-repellent. The tongue should be continuous to keep out snow and moisture. Choose hooks rather than eyelets for the top to make tying easier with cold hands. The boots should also have the heel catch for use with snowshoes,
  • Over the boots I wear calf-covering gaiters to keep snow off my lower legs and out of the top of my boots. The REI branded ones I bought have a reflective insulating inner surface that keep my lower legs and feet toasty warm,
  • Snowshoes (mine are Denali Evo Ascents). Don’t skimp. These are what keep you up above the surface of the snow instead of post-holing to your crotch with every step. Choose snowshoes designed for your weight and the type of terrain you typically hike in (flat, alpine) . . . and for the weight of the snowshoes. Technical use of snowshoes is beyond this article. Learn to use them ahead of time . . . it’s not that hard,
  • Poles. Forget expensive trekking poles unless they already have snow baskets. I use my ski poles.
Hypothermia

Acclimatization to cold weather is a ‘learned’ response over time. The Inuit of the arctic have a markedly lower core body temperature to what we consider normal (95F to our 98.6F) and have tuned their basal metabolism and circulation to be as efficient as ours at this lower temperature. They can withstand cold temperature far more efficiently than us ‘southerners’ can.

The metabolic response to temperature changes is a complicated one. Simply stated, we, as warm-blooded beings, can only burn fuel (food) for cell energy within a narrow range of temperatures . . . the core body temperature. Our body will go to great biologic and physiological extremes to maintain that core body temperature. Understanding this metabolic response is important to knowing your limitations and the dangers hypothermia represent . . . especially to a nude hiker totally exposed to the elements. Acclimatization increases your metabolic efficiency and allows you to stay warm for longer periods of time. Remember, clothing does not warm your body . . . clothing simply reduces the loss of body heat. Any and all heat you experience (short of warming yourself by a fire or slipping into a hot spring pool) is generated by your metabolic processes burning the fuel (the food your eat) into energy. Know the signs of hypothermia and your limits:

  1. Your skin tightens upon exposure to cold; body hairs stand on end to more effectively trap an insulating layer of air next to the skin,
  2. Blood vessels initially dilate under the exposed skin surfaces, warming the skin and giving the rosy-cheeks syndrome. As more heat is lost, this process shuts down;
  3. Goosebumps forms and tiny, consciously-controllable shivering may commence;
  4. The skin becomes a pasty white . . . chalky in later stages; blood supply to shell skin areas and extremities is reduced. Shivering becomes more intense as the body fights to maintain the inner core temperature of the internal organs and the brain. You are entering Stage 1 Hypothermia;
  5. Arterial shunting reduces blood flow to the extremities, leading to cramping and uncoordinated use of leg and arm muscles. Shivering become continuous, tiring and intense. You are in Stage 2 Hypothermia and need to preserve the remaining body warmth before you lose the ability to act;
  6. Violent, uncontrollable shivering ceases as the body preserves even this expenditure of scarce energy to keep the heart, lungs and brain warm and functional. You are disoriented to the point of not even being aware of the cold, tired and wanting to sit down and sleep. You are in Stage 3 Hypothermia and in a medical emergency. Your body is losing it’s ability to produce heat and will slip rapidly into a fatal coma.
Know the progression and signs. Shivering is normal . . . violent shivering that is impairing and beyond your control is a serious warning sign that you’ve passed your limits.

Acclimatization to Cold Weather

Acclimatization is the increasing of your body’s heat-production and retention efficiency. As you slowly expose yourself to cold weather in longer increasing periods your body responds by burning foods more efficiently. As we go into spring and summer and are no longer exposed to these colder patterns, we acclimatize in the other direction, slowing the efficiency down to maintain that ‘normal’ 98.6F core body temperature. Vitamin B6 is an excellent supplement to increase the efficiency of our metabolism and I take it regularly in the colder months of the year as I’m working my naked body to withstand and enjoy nudity in the cold. Omega-3 fatty acids are not only good for your cholesterol levels but induce a high level of cold resistance. Get them through eating cold-water fish like salmon or taking flax seed oil capsules.

The key is to acclimatize over time. Do not shock your system by heading out on a long nude snow hike without some period of adjustment to your system.

When exposing you body to cold weather . . . particularly when you must be able to keep yourself warm without the insulating-crutch of clothing . . . eat easily digested foods such as carbohydrates and sugars; adding smaller amounts of fat and protein to balance the digestive load. Digestion consumes up to 30% of all available energy after a large meal. That’s energy not available to keep you warm. Avoid large and heavy meals full of protein and fats immediately prior to a hiking expenditure. Carb-load the night before and keep your trail eating to small and frequent snacks.

  • Sugars are the high-octane fuels and produce a quick burst of energy and a falloff just a quickly.
  • Carbs are more complicated sugars (starches and such) that burn slower and over an extended period. Carbs are the basic sources of energy to fuel metabolism.
  • Fats (such as chocolate) are an excellent source of stored energy that can be called on as the body needs. However, if you don’t use fats, guess where they go? Don’t go overboard on fats as a high-fat diet takes weeks to adapt to and can lead to abdominal stress; something you don’t need on the trail. However, fat reserves within the cells of our body are very important both during the acclimatization phase and when the body calls on energy reserves to bolster core temperatures and maintain glucose levels.
  • Proteins are the structural components for the body. However, in need, proteins are metabolized (burned) for heat energy because they produce a large amount of heat. However, they are difficult to digest and leave many undesired byproducts when burned for fuel . . . such as salts which will lead to increased urination and dehydration.
Control heat loss at the vulnerable points. The head, which loses 60% of all body heat through the scalp (the seat of our intelligence is in the brain and the brain requires a huge amount of energy to function.) Likewise, wear good boots to keep your feet warm and wear gloves. The under-supplied toes and fingers quickly go numb and useless in cold weather.

My back is decidedly sensitive to a cold-shiver, and I suspect that’s the case with most of us. Cover your back in some manner (coat slung over the shoulders, backpack, in my case). Our nipples (in both men and woman) suffer painfully when it really gets cold. Likewise the genitalia, particularly men, will feel the painfully numbing cold eventually. Recognize what’s happening and don’t suffer needlessly. The layering principle applies to nude hikers as well . . . except we might need to put on that first layer as needed.

It is often said that women, with typically thicker subcutaneous fat layers, are better able to withstand the effects of cold weather . . . and that makes sense as adipose fat is a great insulator. You only need look to the ability of marine mammals with their thick blubber to withstand the numbingly frigid waters of the Arctic. But what I’ve noticed is that the same insulating nature of adipose has a rebound effect . . . those same layers of fat become cold reservoirs and resist warming up or letting external heat through after a hike. I noted that effect several years ago after a challenging nude snow hike that I pushed despite the winds and snow turning ugly. Once back in my car with the heat going full blast, much of my body quickly warmed up . . . except the areas where adipose fat underlay my abdomen and ‘love-handles’ (yeah, I got lazy that year and let my spare-tire get ahead of me.) Those areas of my body stayed icily-cold for the next few hours despite clothing, heat and a general rewarming of the rest of me. The fat was a great insulator but insulation works both ways! The upshot, some body fat is okay but a lot of adipose can become a liability if you push the limits of your cold exposure.

A note on frostbite . . . can’t get it unless the ambient air or wind-chill temperature is below freezing. The laws of thermodynamics plainly state that you can not reduce the temperature of an object below the ambient environment . . . except under certain, unique circumstances . . . supercooling. Supercooling happens under high wind, high humidity conditions. Don’t hike nude in such conditions . . . please. Even I’m not that stupid and will put on clothes when the wind picks up much beyond 5-10 mph. When it is below freezing your extremities (particularly toes and fingers, and since we are nude, the nipples and genitalia) are very susceptible to damaging frostbite. Watch for painful, chalky white skin progressing into a lack of pain as frostbite happens. Don’t let it get this far!

Last Thoughts

Did I forget anything? I’m sure I have.

While I enjoy endless roaming around the mountains nude in the balmier months, taking off my clothes in a wide-open and pristine snowfield and hiking free is a unique and almost spiritual experience. Also, while I consider hiking nude in the snow a personal challenge, I temper it with the realization that I have to be aware of how my body is responding. But what else is a nudist good for than being aware of his or her body interaction with the environment. We nude hikers know how sublime the experience is . . .

November 28, 2010 at 5:34 am Leave a comment

>Lower Lewis Creek, a State Park and Heybrook Lookout

>Where Lewis Creek Meets the North Fork and a Delightful Little Park

Forks of the Sky State Park (in Trust)
Normally I don’t go nude in State Parks because there is a prohibition against nudity in Washington State Parks.  State Parks also tend to be heavily used by the public.  However, there are some exceptions and a good example is the spate of acquisitions of private land by the state in the wake of record flooding in recent years.  This has led to a number of small-acreage areas being held in trust for further development.  They are relatively unknown, off the beaten path and lacking the amenities that typically attract the public.  The perfect opportunity for a short nude stroll in nature.

Forks of the Sky (where the North Fork and the South Fork of the Skykomish River come together near Index, WA) is one of those small acquisitions.  The ten or so acres used to be private property until the North Fork wiped out a major portion of the riverbank, along with cabins.  The state purchased the distressed property and then promptly forgot about it.  I’d seen the old, rusted sign and gate before but paid little attention . . . until I saw the new sign in the image above.  I wondered.
A week later I stopped by the small pullout on the Index-Galena Road.  No one else parked nearby.  Nude hiking time!  The old road down the the former cabin site is still there . . . grassy-green overgrown.  Years ago I’d wandered down that road out of curiosity . . . turning back after coming across a No Trespassing sign in sight of the small riverside cabin.  Now all that is gone as I come across a bridge that I recall from memory.

Across an old wooden bridge
The stroll is absolutely peaceful amid all the spaced trees draped in thick Cascadian moss.  The county road is not that far behind me but I doubt I would have heard much road noise from an infrequent passing car.  All I can hear is the twittering of leaves and critters going about their business in the undergrowth.  I’m impressed at how open and level the area is.
Across another bridge, this one a footbridge over a small streamlet of Lewis Creek . . . and soon I’m at the original cabin site, a wide area of low bluff open to the river.  Someone (I doubt the state) has carried in and put together a very nice picnic table.

On the original cabin site
The hike in had been short . . . ten minutes at most.  But I know this can’t be all . . . so it’s off to search for side trails and I soon find them . . . again, someone has gone to a lot of time and effort to improve the network of level, maintained trails in this potential park.  Originally I wondered if the paths might be loop trails and so proceeded with my senses spread out.  I tend to avoid loop trails or trails that have entrances at both ends.  Eventually it becomes obvious that this is not the case . . . the trails parallel the river north, and there is nothing north of this area but thick forest and creek bed wetlands . . .  until a sharp bend in the river a mile or so to the north.

Well-maintained, rock-lined trails and easy river access
This set-aside park land is not very big.  Within a short distance the trail becomes rougher and peters out to nothing but a mass of brambles and gullies that no nude hiker would want to traverse (except maybe me . . . but not today).  
There is a foot-worn earthen ramp leading down onto the river-rock boulders of the North Fork . . . the floodplain particularly wide here.  I’m still well short of that sharp bend in the river and visibility from the paved county road and an oft-used camping area.  I head out into sunshine and open air.  The occasional beer can or potato chip bag attests to others going on this way at other times.  But not today.  I have the open flats of the river bed to myself.
Onto the floodplain of the North Fork
I particularly like hiking in the open . . . being slightly claustrophobic.  Open spaces around me is what I crave.  River beds just naturally attract me and the river bed of the North Fork of the Skykomish (or more accurately, the floodplain caused by the seasonal rains and snowpack melt) is one of my favorite places to hike nude.  For the most part, the North Fork has little activity along its’ bank until it meets up with the South Fork at Index.  A few cabins, but little of anything else to worry someone about being seen.

This river has a history of flooding wide in its’ course . . . and during low water months that leaves lots of room to hike over smooth-water-worn boulders and numerous patches of givable sand to claim as your own personal beach.  But most of all . . . despite its’ openness, there is a real sense of privacy out there.  My meanderings take me from the river’s slow summer babbling, over multi-ton boulders worn baby-skin smooth to the forest edges . . . and back.  No where in particular . . .

Coming down the middle of the floodplain, I eventually realize that I’ve come just enough around a ninety-degree bend in the river to be visible to anyone travelling the Index-Galena Road in the distance.  The movement of a lone car heading north on that road catches my attention.  My valued privacy is now gone.

The campsite I’d mentioned earlier is on a twenty-foot high crumbling bluff just around that bend.  I head toward the inside of the bend and spot a very worn trail leading in.  Not sure if anyone is using the campsites but they’ve always been a favorite stopping off point in the past.  I’ve just never approached them from this direction before . . . and I’m still not sure if I can.  But we will see.  Up the banks, over a few downed trees and into the brush.

Enough scrambling and trail-making to find a back way into the
campsite.  Back to the open spaces of the river.
Unfortunately I didn’t make it far in before I heard the unmistakable sounds of people having a good time just beyond the impenetrable barrier of intertwined brush and sharp alder branches.  Guess a stop at that campsite is out of the question.  Besides, those brittle, sharp twigs have already scratched up enough of my body.  Back to the river and safer, open spaces.
My own, private, wind-screened sandy beach
Coming back down the river I stick to the inside, closer to the banks and following a sandy, deep gorge created at some time by seasonal flooding, but now dry.  Some scrambling getting over flotsam and water-torn logs the diameter of city buses for another of my favorite activities . . . walking the downed tree trunks.  It’s in these flood-eroded gorges that I find the most sand and sunning opportunities.  Following a dry-water course outward to the main channel I come across a really nice, deep patch of sand almost in the middle . . . and it’s screened by a line of young alder saplings, almost as if by design.  A natural windbreak and privacy screen.  How can I resist not taking a break?  Plop down and off with the shoes for a nice nap.  It’s quite some time before I decide I’ve dawdled enough.   This visit to a potential State Park was meant only to be a quick foray.  The main goal was to hike the road beside the upper Lewis Creek on up to Heybrook Ridge.  Back onto the well-maintained paths in the forest.
Barefoot in the Park
Hiking nude is freeing . . . natural . . . wonderful.  Hiking nude without even your shoes is . . . sublime.  I get few opportunities to do it barefoot in the Cascades . . . footwear almost always being a necessity to protect the feet.  Hiking back to my car with my shoes slung over my shoulders, the feel of years of overburden giving just so under the soles of my feet can only be described as sensuous.  Purists call it ‘free-hiking’ and it is definitely that.  Having to put my shoes back on was almost as if I was putting clothes back on.  Was I still nude?

Crossing that last footbridge a friendly dog came trotting on up . . . followed a moment later, before I could unsling and search for cover . . . by it’s owner, a middle-aged lady seemingly out of place smoking a cigarette and carrying a beer amongst such serenity.  She kind of chuckled as she stood aside to let me pass and then we exchanged pleasantries on how nice this place was while her dog let me scratch him behind the ears.  All the time she kept on smoking away and sipping beer.  No backpack . . . just someone appearing out of nowhere.  Weird.  If  a naked man in the wild bothered her she didn’t show any indication . . . which was a good sign and definitely gratifying.  Back at my car I continued to wonder where she had come from because there were no cars parked along the road for as far as I could see.  It was time to head a half mile down the road to the Lewis Creek trailhead.

Lewis Creek and on up to Heybrook Ridge and the Lookout Tower

Lewis Creek is a straightforward hike for me.  I’ve done it dozens of times because the road is gated, and the route in an easy-enough grade to really be enjoyable in it’s solitude.  In winter this is a great place to showshoe, nude or otherwise.
For the most part it follows Lewis Creek in it’s lower sections before switchbacking and climbing south onto Heybrook Ridge.  Heybrook Ridge overlooks Hwy 2 and the Skykomish River just east of Index.  The highlight of any trip onto Heybrook is a visit to the top of a decommissioned fire lookout tower.  The standard route up is via a mile and a half trail from Hwy 2 . . . my back route is almost three miles of time to myself.   Eventually you come onto the ridge, intersecting the FS road that used to service the tower (and is now a little-used logging road from the town of Baring further east on Hwy 2.
A photo moment approaching the ridge…
Serendipity sometimes gives the best results.  At first I was going to toss this image, as it wasn’t what I intended.  Here I am adjusting the camera and the timer goes off too soon (or more likely I wasn’t paying attention).  But I actually like this composition and proportions.  Goes to show . . . sometimes just leave it alone.
Just beyond the point above the road tees with the right heading to the lookout tower.  Once on the other dirt road I tread quietly because I never know if hikers have been coming up to the tower from the more traditional side of the ridge.  Sometimes they wander off to do some exploring of their own, and Heybrook is popular.  Today, it wasn’t.
The Fire Lookout Tower atop Heybrook Ridge
While this Lookout Tower has been decommissioned for years (with the upper enclosure boarded and locked) the lower observation platform is open and accessible to the public.  Sturdy stairs safely take the visitor to the top were they can gaze out over miles of the Skykomish River Valley and especially the peaks of Mount Index and Persis, nearby.
The view from the top
(and the traditional trail below)
Once at the top of the lookout tower you pretty much can see and know everything that is happening around you.  My little nude platform . . . I’ll see anyone approaching a very long time before they’ll have any idea I’m up there staring down on them . . . let alone they know I’m nude.  Kind of empowering and relaxing at the same time.  You want to linger there and I’ve often thought ‘what a great place to camp out overnight’.
No claustrophobia here
Eventually you have to give up the castle on the hill and head back down before nightfall . . . of course, timing it to milk the most of the daylight nude.
The appropriate ending of any hike is, of course,
a long soak in the hot springs

A photo album with more pics from this hike is here:
http://www.anthonians.org/forgotten_knot/9-4-2010_LowerLewisCreek/

October 8, 2010 at 4:03 am Leave a comment

>Alpen Falls (a belated posting from May of this year)

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Standing on the precipice of the roaring Alpen Falls
I hear bemoanings of “There ain’t nowhere to hike nude” all the time yet if you just look around, there are all sorts of opportunities to shuck the clothes and enjoy nature somewhat on it’s own terms. My visit to Alpen Falls (officially known as Alpine Falls on the map, but historically known as Alpen Falls . . . a long story of ethnic controversy from the 40s) began as a visit to Scenic Hot Springs on a needed check up of conditions, and turned into a day-long foray into seeking out where this or that pullout or dirt track went . . . the upshot, Alpen Falls on the Tye River, which you can hear from the highway . . . shows on the maps . . . but I never really knew how to get to them (or, actually, never invested the time . . . always bigger or better-known fish to catch). But Alpen Falls is an absolute gem in the Cascades . . . easily accessible yet almost completely unknown and unvisited. A nude hiker’s chance to really enjoy the majesty of nature.
I could have spent all day exploring around the falls but the legs wanted stretching that only a distance-hike could provide . . . and that added the third segment of my day . . . the old logging road up the side of Captain’s Point. Unfortunately, our fickle weather did not cooperate and when I see storm clouds piling up against the crest of the Cascades I know it is probably not a good idea to continue in the open.
Despite spending the majority of the day nude, since I still had daylight I did some more of that exploring at the lower elevations with a trek along the Tye River to L-Chute Falls. Not as robust as Alpen, there is something vital about feeling the unimaginable roar of water . . . about accepting the fine mist of spray on your body when you stand just a little too close. What can I say . . . how can you possibly enjoy and participate with what nature is displaying if your body is shielded with water-repellent clothes? It just feels oh-so-glorious to stand there and soak (literally) it all in.

Alpen Falls
I put together a photo album of this day of enjoyment (including a couple of videos of the falls in action). Hope you enjoy them. You can access the album here:
http://www.anthonians.org/forgotten_knot/Alpen%20Falls/

October 5, 2010 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

>Foss Moss: Nude Hiking in the Fall Colors

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In search of a lost GeoCache

Autumn is a great time to hike nude with summer finally over (not that we had much of one), kids back in school and the mountains generally quiet . . . . and best of all, the bugs all gone!  And then we have the vivid colors to make any hike well-worthwhile.

And no, I didn’t find my lost geocache, but more on that later.

October 3, 2010 at 12:29 am Leave a comment

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