Sunday, May 20, 2007

Lake Bronson Family Nudist Resort Visit

Lake Bronson has always been on my short-list of places to visit because of the stunning descriptions of the property and the relative closeness of the resort. However, until recently, Lake Bronson Nudist Resort has been somewhat of an insular and unapproachable venue. I'm ecstatic to report that the Lake Bronson of the past is NOT the Lake Bronson of the now . . . my welcome there was amongst one of the most welcoming and friendly, hassle-free visits to any nudist resort in my experience. Kudos to the staff and members of Lake Bronson towards making myself and fellow SLUGS members feel comfortable, wanted and welcome.


I arrived at the entrance off the Sultan Basin Road around 11AM, dialed in the gate code, and drove down the the resort office a few minutes later. Indeed, a nice sunny office, warm with lots of glass. A number of Bronson members were in there . . . all smiling. No frowns as an unfamiliar vehicle drove up . . . just 'Hi's and 'Welcome's as I entered the office and produced my SLUGS card for check-in. The whole process was painless, easy and non-suspicious . . . which goes a long way to making you feel trusted and part of the family. While I filled out the expected particulars form and my name was run against the Caution List I chatted with the others in the office and soon got the layout of the resort, what places a 'must-see' and most importantly . . . just how to find Ryan's supposedly refurbished cabin.

I got there early so there was not a lot of activity happening. A few people down by the lake re-grooming the shoreside. I drove on up above the lake on the north side where Randy, Lake Bronson's' President indicated the best approach to get to Ryan's place. Bronson occupies over 300 acres of northwest forested land. RV spaces and cabins niche the gravel roadsides. I parked next to the Hilltop Inn and pulled out the map flyer the office had given me.

The weather was iffy . . . sunshine spotty with our typical early season overcast and threats of rain. Not the best weather to be naked. Nonetheless, I stripped right there at the car, my thick-skin still programmed by dozens of cold-weather nude hikes. It felt good to be free of clothes.

I was the early-bird there. Bronson is reputed to have over ten miles of hiking trails and I intended to hike as much of them as possible. I opted against hiking shoes in favor of Tevas, rolled the requisite sitting towel (and a long-length teeshirt against cooling weather . . . it was threatening to rain, after all) into the side of my fanny pack. Fanny pack slung over my shoulder and the requisite Blue Floppy Hat, I set off to find Ryan and his cabin. The verbal directions I had gotten were accurate but somehow didn't gel in the mental image I had of the place. I spent some time wandering up gravel lanes this direction and whatnot before I decided to try the correct one down to the lake . . . the only place left that made any sense. I passed Ryan's cabin twice before registering Ryan's car . . . right next to the volleyball courts as I'd been told! It's a wonder I don't get lost in the wilderness more often.

Ryan's Cabin:

Ryan was running around decorating his little place in paradise with flower beds and little (well, huge) frog statues. Seems everyplace at Bronson has frog figurines . . . the club mascot and certainly a noisy denizen of the lake. Ryan's little cabin is the former (and now dilapidated) Youth Center . . . a small log structure, stripped bare on the inside and just perfect for a weekend getaway once cleaned up, insulated and decorated. Great spot as well . . . right by the lake! I expect to be invited to spend some time there, Ryan!

After being introduced to a few of the members working on the grounds . . . dang, why was I the only person naked; must be the weather . . . Ryan gave me the lowdown on the hiking trails. First and foremost, the Falls . . . an absolute must see for first time visitors.

The Waterfalls:

The trail is probably less than a mile from the end of one of the gravel perimeter roads . . . all downhill and through huge stands of canopy. The trail is somewhat improved but could use maintenance after the winter storms. Hiking shoes would have been preferred but the Tevas did just fine. Eventually you come to the head of the falls where the creek feeding them drops 85ft over to a scoured basin of boulders before shortly joining the Sultan River. The little spur takes you right up to the precipice where you look straight down. Impressive!

The trail continues switchbacking on down and eventually to the pearly green waters of the swift-flowing Sultan River. Here you are open to the skies and I enjoyed an intermittent break in the cloud cover to bask in blessedly-warm sunlight. The river is intriguing. It runs through a steep gorge which, in itself, invites exploration. More interestingly, the water is a pale green translucent . . . not from algae but from some other factor. It was also running warmer than I would have expected. I could have spent the better part of the afternoon on the banks of the Sultan.

On the way back up I met a party of SLUGs being lead on down to the falls by Ryan. Dang, why was I the only one nude? Can't they take the weather? Well, Brad was hiking nude but the rest . . .

Broken Bridge Trail and Bears:

They continued on down while I headed in the other direction for the eastern edge of the property and Broken Bridge Trail. Ryan seemed to think I would enjoy that hike . . . after he FYI'd me about bear sightings on the trail. A challenge, eh?

Broken Bridge Road is the northern developed edge of the property with new RV sites being cut off the sides of the road. At the eastern end the road passes an ancient sawmill. I was told it is still functional but doesn't appear to have been used in some time. Just past the sawmill the road tees north and quickly degenerates into a narrow, overgrowth path that young alder saplings and blackberry is quickly reclaiming. But I have thick skin and that reputation for Banged Up Shins to defend, so I pushed on in regardless of the scratches. Sometimes the hike is more important.

Eventually you pass off the property and into National Forest lands . . . and some rather stern warning signs about entering the private property I had just left. There is supposed to be a beaver pond and lodge up there but I never did find it.

The trail hooks back to the east following the creek that eventually becomes Bronson's famous waterfalls. The trail just as abruptly ends (or is so overgrown that the path is just not obvious). It was there that I spotted the fresh (and still warm) spoor of a bear . . . spoor fully an inch and a half thick! I was getting ready to head back when I heard the grunt and huff of a large animal cracking the brush in the creek and headed my direction. Um . . . no bear spray in my pack . . . time to start stepping back the way I came. I did not feel comfortable until I broke back into the openness of the first leg of the trail. I did more trail exploring, catching some tentative, fine rain misting. On the road back to the main resort I met up with some more SLUGgies . . . again, why was I the only one naked?

The Lodge and Dinner:

By 5pm the overcast was complete and the end to sunlight for the day. I drove on over to the main Lodge overlooking the south end of the lake. Activities were just beginning in there with food preparation. Downstairs I ran into Brad and shot a few games of pool . . . miserably losing. Bronson members and SLUGS started to arrive. I briefly checked out the hot tub but was disappointed that the sauna had not been turned on.

The view over the lake is great up here. From the deck we watched an osprey searching out it's own evening meal . . . probably one of those enormous bullfrogs everyone was talking about. On the tennis court below a lone figure shot basketball hoops in the nude. Most stayed inside in the comfortable 75F warmth of the lodge. We caught the news on the big screen . . . thunderstorms in the foothills for Sunday. Scenic trip needed to be rescheduled.

The spread was great; BBQd spareribs, ham, hot wings, burgers, bratwurst, corn on the cob, salad dishes, desserts. More than enough to fill the bellies of hungry people. Randy had everyone introduce themselves and then we dug in. After dinner and cleanup people started to slowly head downstairs for the music. Outside, the lake looked so serene and peaceful.

I had to leave around 9pm to other obligations but I had such a great time and have the feeling this party went on into the late evening. Thank you much to Lake Bronson for inviting us to share and enjoy your hospitality.

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