Saturday, March 12, 2011

Going for a nude hike? Take that camera with you.

"There are times when the beauty that surrounds a nude soul goes unnoticed until the photos are reviewed."   
Ken Freehiker, recounting on his blog about several nude hikes (or freehikes) taken recently in the El Paso, Texas area. 
I could not agree more with Ken.  The experience of nude hiking (or as Ken and many others prefer to call it . . . freehiking) is sublime and not easily explained after the fact.  The experience is both physical and spiritual . . . lasting some time after a hike.  You just feel so good about everything, having immersed and involved yourself so intimately with nature.

Like Ken, simply going over images of the hike afterward immerses you into the experience all over again.  I'm often at a loss of words to convey to friends and readers the full extent of the experience.  Photos are like a time machine taking me right back into the moment.  I share them to share the same experience with my readers.

Ken's excellent blog on everything nudism can be read here.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

February Nude Hikes

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.

Article: Dare to be Bare (Western Washington State eZine from Bellingham, WA)

FRIDAY, 04 MARCH 2011 00:04

The thought of walking around nude leaves many feeling vulnerable.  But for some, nakedness is normal.
Western senior Zac Robertson said living in the buff is something he has grown up with.
“I grew up in a culture where people have sweat lodges, sing songs to the earth while naked in the dark to feel connectedness,” Robertson said.  “To me, it feels totally alright and normal.”

Megan Santos puts the finishing touches on a set of wings for Western junior Chasse Gunter. She said she liked the club’s relaxed atmosphere and positive attitude toward body image. “It’s really pro love-your-body, and it makes you feel comfortable in your own skin. And that’s really important,” Santos said. Photo by Mark Stayton // THE WESTERN FRONT

Robertson said he grew up in Eastern Washington and came to Western expecting to find an extremely liberal school.
He said he was surprised there wasn’t already a nudist group established.  This did not stop Robertson from finding his niche.
For a while he showed up naked more often than not to friend’s parties.
“Some people started to join in at these naked parties,” Robertson said.  “I thought, ‘wow. when people do this they feel a lot more free so why not make a club?'”
That's how the Students for Optional Clothing club was born.
Where skin meets paint
Living in the nude is empowering, Robertson said.
Club president Gavin Gladsjo said their mission is to promote positive body image and to build faith with each other in a non-sexual way.
The club meets once a week and the meetings typically include cooking dinner, hanging out and talking about body image and nudity, he said.
Most recently, the club held a body painting party Wednesday, March 2, at the Alternative Library, at 717 N. Forest St.
To start the club, Robertson went through the Associated Students board, which includes a process of consultation before creating a new club.  AS Club Coordinator Mikaela Trott said she liked Robertson's idea.
“I like them because they provide a great outlet for that kind of lifestyle,” she said.
One belief the club has is supporting the National Organization for Women who are trying to legalize women’s rights to being topless in public, Gladsjo said.
The club members feel that women have the same rights as men to be topless.
“We like to normalize nudity,” Gladsjo said. “I feel like in our society we have created a stigma with it. It’s a natural state, so it should be more of an expected thing.”
The club meets at the Alternative Library every Wednesday night.
About eight people consistently show up to the gatherings, and most people will start out partially clothed.
The way Gladsjo sees it, it’s all about personal choice and how the individual feels.  He always leaves his socks on in case his feet get cold, he said.
Connecting with nature
Club members go hiking in the nude.  Non-members are welcome to join as well, he said.
Hiking hits Robertson on a more personal note.
“When I go hiking, I feel like my eyes are closed and my nose is clogged,” Robertson said (about being clothed). “I can’t see anything if my skin is clothed. I need to feel the earth and what we are doing to her.”
Riding free
Robertson co-created the annual Bellingham chapter of the “World Naked Bike Ride,” which is a separate entity from the club.
The bike ride typically takes place during the spring.  For the past two years, about 30 to 50 participants showed up, Robertson said.
Last year the bike ride was on graduation day, which led to two people being arrested on campus.
Zoie Gaidos, Western graduate and co-creator of the bike ride, said her and Robertson had a permit set for their route.  However, once the bike ride was over, Gaidos said she headed to campus for her commencement ceremony.
By the time she and a few others got to campus, the police were there and arrested two people, one of them being a Western student.
Gaidos said the student involved was wearing underwear, but was still arrested on suspicion of indecent exposure.
Robertson and Gaidos have written a formal letter to Bruce Shepard expressing the need for university police to have a better response to student activism.
Robertson said normally when the club has outings like this, people are all smiles.
"Really this is for people to have some fun," Gladsjo said.  “It’s not like we have dirty orgies.  There needs to be open-mindedness.”

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