Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Nude Hike: Johnson Ridge

On the top of Johnson Ridge, 4,400ft, snow-capped

Johnson Ridge runs west to east on the northwest side of Stevens. It's quite a drive up to the trailhead and I'd driven up there once before earlier in the year with the idea of doing an exposed ridge hike. I was stopped early last time by the amount of snow drifts still on the lower trails. This time the snow didn't become much of a problem until I was on top of the peak at around 4,400 ft. At that elevation the views are great but better yet . . . lots of sun feeling wonderful on my skin. Temperatures were in the mid 60s, so it was a comfortable hike.

Two other cars were at the trailhead when I began so I had some thoughts abouts hiking nude. The trail is not a popular one because of the difficulty rating. Once I saw the snow on top I also figured whomever was on the trail was quite a distance off. I stayed nude.

I spent hours on the snow trail on top . . . heading towards an alpine lake approx four miles futher along the ridge. Weather can change in an instant in the Cascades and when you're on the top of a mountain with few tall trees hedging in around you . . . you feel awfully vulnerable when dark thunder clouds begin forming over your head. You get downright nervous with the rumbling echos of thunder moving closer.

That's when I unexpectantly met three hikers doing the quick hustle off the moutaintop. I seem to have caught them by surprise . . . not so much because I was nude, but because they were dressed in full winter gear and I was naked in the snow! It was actually a fun encounter. Nothing was said about my nudity, just about conditions further up and thoughts on the thunderstorm definitely approaching our position. The female seemed to be the most nonchalant about the whole thing.

Anyway, I continued inbound thinking about those clouds. Lightening was limited to intercloud flashes. It started to rain. That was my clue. I turned around to start the three mile hike out . . . most of it along very exposed ridgeline and mountaintop.

The rest of the hike was uneventful. The clouds dissipitated without the threatened downpour and the sun came out again. I found myself exploring several logging roads running around the otherside of the ridge before finally heading back to my car.

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