by Diane Spicer
It would be easy to make a lot of puns about naked hiking.
You know .... along the lines of Mother Nature and going natural and all that.
But I'm going to take the high road and simply share information about naked hiking, also referred to as nude hiking.
After all, it's just one of many types of hiking.
And I strive to be thorough in delivering hiking information to you!
So I didn't feel right about leaving this type of hiking off the list just because I myself don't do it.
Here are the burning questions about nude hikers, or hiking naturists, which I will attempt to answer:
Let's take a look at some answers, but not the naked hikers themselves.
From what I can gather, lots of people, all over the world!
This came as somewhat of a surprise to me.
You can get a glimpse into the mindset of a nude hiker by visiting his blog at www.nudehiker.blogspot.com.
Be forewarned: nude means NO CLOTHING in the pictures.
If you take offense at naked human bodies, his photos are not for you.
Conversely, if you're after the vicarious thrill of naked human bodies, you'll see some on his blog.
As for where folks hike without benefit of clothing, that's a great question!
When I'm out bashing around in the woods, I welcome multiple layers of clothing between me and the vegetation and trail and the insects and the rays of sun and.... you get the idea.
So it's really important to plan your route carefully to avoid abrasions and mishaps.
Here's a description of a hiking trail that can be tackled nude.
Again, approach with caution if you're squeamish about seeing normally covered up body parts. http://wanr.earthbiz.net/DCNudeHike.html
In parts of Europe, hikers are demanding - and receiving - special trails devoted to hiking nude.
For example, in Germany, there's an 11 mile trail in the Hartz Mountains called Harzer Naturistenstieg.
As a counterbalance to that option, Switzerland has banned hiking without clothing.
Currently, this is a much debated topic and officials are working on responses to requests (demands?) for naked hiking trails.
So do your research if you're planning on leaving your clothing at the trail head.
Nudity can be illegal and your unclothed presence may bring repercussions, such as charges for "public indecency".
As for why anyone wants to hike nude, don't ask me! I'm squarely in the camp of the clothed hikers.
But here's an interesting glimpse into what makes "clothing optional" hiking appealing: http://kenfreehiker.blogspot.com/2011/06/naked-hiking-day-report-appalachian.html
And here's a resource for getting all of your questions answered by hikers who consider hiking clothing optional out on the trails: www.hikingnaked.com.
Being a practical woman, I can think of any number of things you would want to plan for if you're considering hiking naked.
1. Sunscreen: buy the jumbo sized bottle 'cause you're going to be using lots of it on every hike.
2. A hat. Naked craniums invite sunburn, which not only hurt but can increase your risk of skin cancer. This is especially important for folks with thin or absent hair.
3. Does naked hiking include naked feet? I counsel you to wear hiking footwear, for safety reasons. Nothing stops a hiker in her tracks like bleeding feet. And along with the boots go proper hiking socks, to prevent blisters.
4. I anticipate bug problems in tender areas.
Insect repellents are a must.
On the other hand, spotting ticks on yourself and/or hiking companions should be a cinch.
5. Beware unfriendly foliage!
Any plant which stings or gouges or pokes or blisters human skin must be avoided. This will require extra vigilance on the part of the trip leader.
6. Sensitivity to those you meet on the trail. The few times I've encountered nude hikers, my reaction was one of surprise followed by a greeting along the lines of "Nice to see you!"
But I can imagine that not everyone would be so accepting of nude hiking.
Just to set a good example for all of your naked hiking trail buddies, consider carrying a scarf you can quickly wrap around the vital areas to appease anyone who takes offense at the sight of your birthday suit.
Or have a pair of shorts and a shirt handy in case you are approaching folks who look unfriendly.
Remember, the norm on a hiking trail is clothing.
7. Plan hikes when the trails are most likely to be thinly populated. If you're near an urban area, that would most likely be during early morning on week days.
8. Be prepared for some unpleasant encounters. Learn from each of them. If you are determined to be a nude hiker, you will have to be able to deal with whomever you meet on the trail.
That's where getting really good at sizing up the approaching hikers in a hurry will come in handy.
9. A woman hiking nude by herself has a whole separate set of issues to deal with, revolving around how males may interpret her nudity. I urge you to find other women who have tried hiking naked, and talk over all of the responsibilities that go along with the freedom from clothing.
Recently I received an email from a guy named Dave, who chimed in with some trail advice:
"Suggestion for nude hiking:
That about covers (or uncovers?) it.
And even if you will never, ever try naked hiking, be forewarned: you might bump into some of these folks out on the trail.
Start thinking of some appropriate greetings now!