Monday, September 17, 2012

Skinny Dipping in the North Fork of the Skykomish: Sep 14th, 2012

Skinny-dipping in the ice-cold glacier fed waters of the Skykomish River

Hot, sunny weather . . . and a naturally-formed deep pool of icy-cold water at the confluence of two branches of the upper North Fork of the Skykomish River?  What better way to cool off?

It all starts with a jaunt exploring and updating my list of camping places along the Beckler River and the upper segment of the North Fork Skykomish River above Jacks Pass in the Cascades.  (Note: until I get around to updating the above webpage, Troublesome Creek and San Juan campgrounds (which suffered tremendously from the floods) are actually accessible with the reopening of the Index-Galena road from the Jacks Pass side).

No long hike today . . . I'd started out too late.  But upon crossing the FS63 bridge at the base of Jacks Pass where it crosses the North Forth of the Skykomish River, I'd noted that a great river-side camping spot had not been occupied yet.  So I zipped on in and claimed it for myself . . . at least for the day.

This spot is very popular, being right beside the ever-busy FS 63 bridge.
Not a great place to remain nude and out in the open as cars traveling FS 63 slow down on the bridge and look down to see if the site is available.  I'm not planning to camp here but as there are no reasonable and adequate pullouts nearby I do need a spot to park while I head over to the other side of the road (and bridge) to closed-off camp sites and the upper stretches of the river from the bridge toward Goblin Creek further north.  This spot serves me well.  

First order of business, the previous occupants left a mess of garbage on the site so I busy myself with a large trash bag to pick up bottles, beer cans and unburned aluminum foil left in the campfire ring.  A few cars do slow and pass by but with the trash bag, I'm obscure enough to bring into question whether I'm nude or not.  It's an enjoyable fifteen minutes of civic duty.  But there is a hike in my future ...

Atop the protective levee on the other side of the bridge.
The roadside site is coveted.  But the real, unseen gems in this area are the abandoned campsites on the north side of the road.  You used to be able to turn in and drive down into half a dozen tenting areas under old growth.  During the disastrous floods of Nov 2006 the river jumped the twenty-foot high levee and reeked havoc in the low-laying bowl that formed the camping area.  The Forest Service later bulldozed a berm across the entrance and let the area go fallow.  But that hasn't stopped intrepid campers from occasionally parking off-road somewhere and hiking their gear the couple of hundred feet into these great sites.

Toward the rear at the end of the levee, one of the higher tent sites opens onto the side tributary of the river.  On the other side of the tributary is an overgrown and hard to make out jeep trail that follows the open area beside the floodplain north to the river.

On the Skykomish floodplain
This river changes and re-sculpts the floodplain every year.   Since the floods, alders have taken root and flourished in the open . . . making navigating your way difficult except for the nearby open areas.   But there is almost a mile of floodplain that I remember exploring from the past, and to get in further I have to physically push myself through thickets of young alders.

One of many fords of the shallow flow of the Skykomish.
When I headed out earlier in the day, I knew that I'd probably be hiking riverside.  I assumed that my pair of well-used water-socks were in the car.  I was disappointed when I only found one of the pair in the trunk.  I went on without them, sure that I could do any fords barefooted.  Not a good idea as those shallow rocks are extremely slippery, the uneven bottom painful on bare soles, and plenty of places to twist an unprotected ankle.  Nevertheless, I made it over the first, second and third fords with a lot of patience and slow choosing of my steps.  If the river had been any higher or faster it would have been difficult keeping my footing.

Warming up after skinny-dipping

At the confluence of another couple of wayward branches of the river a deep, crystal-clear pool of water had formed . . . still water.  It didn't take much to convince me to remove the boots one more time and carefully step my way into the water.  Didn't last long for the water was simply to cold.  But for the few moments I was in there it sure felt good.  The sun warmed me up pretty quick once I was out of the water.

There were plenty of sandy patches around to make my own small clothing optional beach where I snoozed and drank in the sunlight.

Heading back to the car

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Huckleberry Picking a'la Natural-West Cady Ridge, Sept 7th, 2012

Every hike of mine has a highlight of some sort . . . the weather, wildlife, spiritual impact on the senses, even encounters and interactions with other people on the trail.  I often ask myself, "What did you learn from that hike?" . . . "What stood out and made it memorable?"  These highlights go on to become themes in my blog posts to add something more than 'I just hiked nude'.  Nude hiking is not just about taking your clothes off and wandering about naked in the forests . . . it is about deriving something special . . . mystical or spiritual . . . about your interaction with nature without the crux of clothing to immunize and separate you into a closed bubble apart from it.  Although I never envisioned it, picking huckleberries while 'stark-assed naked' atop a mountain certainly become the highlight of this most recent hike onto the ridges of West Cady.

When I manage to get out and up into the mountains for a nude hike I generally start out with a fuzzy idea of where I will go.  Mostly that is because I am looking for solitude and one cannot guess with any certainty just how busy a particular trail may be ahead of time . . . at least, not until you arrive there and count the number of cars already parked at the trail-head.

Having a desire to do a really long hike I found myself gravitating toward a trio of diverging trails deep in the wilderness . . . all sharing a common trailhead and parking area at the end of FS 63.  Any one of the three . . . Quartz Creek, Pass Creek, or West Cady Ridge . . . would give me a shot of getting onto a long wilderness trail and having it to myself.

There is another passion of mine involved with these particular trails, and that is, together, they form a backpacker's ideal dream of a doable loop trail that takes you well into some spectacular scenery and only requires two to three days to accomplish.  As this is also a pack trail route, it is popular with those going in on horseback . . . and I noted the two horse trailers just off the trailhead parking when I arrived. 

The West Cady Ridge-Dishpan Gap-Quartz Creek Loop, 26 miles

I've done the Quartz Creek segment a couple of times nude (and never met a single other person).  In 2005 I backpacked this route as far as Dishpan Gap (clothed, unfortunately) with a couple of other backpackers . . . overnighting in the Blue Lake area.

I've done the Pass Creek trail once in the nude and had to turn back before the steep switchbacks to Dishpan Gap.

And, West Cady Ridge is a trail I've started on a number of times . . . only to turn around for a number of reasons (late start, too many people, bears).  

I prefer ridgelines . . . always have because they get me high above the trees and into the intense sunlight and open air that I love.  However, the ridge of West Cady I had never gained and I was determined to see how far I could get this time.

At the trail parking area which serves three separate trails
Staying nude . . . I had been driving without anything on since leaving Monroe an hour earlier . . . was not a continuing option when I arrived at 9am.  I opted to be discreet and slip on a pair of shorts when I passed a couple of horse trailers and hobbled horses near the parking area. While I was considering if I would have the parking lot to myself and and going about making an educated guess as to where the occupants of all the other vehicles had headed, three ladies on horseback came around from the horse trailers toward the Quartz Trail entrance and that trail got dropped from my consideration.  In retrospect, four miles under the dense canopy of the Quartz Creek trail wasn't what I wanted anyway.

I chatted for a while with the ladies . . . all packing sidearms as they sat upon their horses . . . and got the lowdown on conditions.  Today they were taking Quartz Creek in as far as Curry Pass.  They had gone up West Cady the day before and had seen no one headed in this morning . . . though they did mention that a group of hunters were way up there hunting bear past Benchmark Mountain.  I had no illusions about making it that far on a day hike so I doubted I would run into hunters on the trail.  West Cady seemed like a good prospect.  I bade them farewell as they turned onto the Quartz Creek Trail and, as soon as they were out of sight, off came the the last vestige of clothing . . . my shorts.  Now I was almost ready to enjoy a trail . . . the West Cady Ridge one.

The West Cady Ridge Trail . . . goal today, Benchmark Mountain
Benchmark Mountain is eight miles one way . . . four hours at my normal pace (perhaps a little longer as I tend to dawdle).  A reasonable goal with such an early start.  Packing extra water, it was off, crossing the sturdy wood footbridge over the North Fork of the Skykomish River and onto the well-maintained trail.

The trail starts out pleasantly under wide open canopy
The trail starts out easy enough under old growth and filtered sunlight as the morning heats up but grinds onto steeper and steeper switchbacks that seem to go on forever . . . well past that point where a family of bears spooked me off the mountainside the last time I was up here.  In that first mile you gain most of the elevation of the entire hike . . . almost 2,300 feet.

Along the way I note the well-defined tracks of horseshoes going in and then coming out.  There were a lot of other tracks of boots on the trail but all were overlaid by the more recent indentations of horseshoes.  No one had been on this trail since the day before, and I assumed those would have been the hunters heading in.  I pretty much felt that I had this trail to myself.

The upward grind goes on and on, steepening ...

On the open ridge of West Cady
And then, suddenly, you are out in the open . . . on the ridge with gentle terrain seemingly along the entire ridgeline.    The views of nearby peaks (particularly Kye's and Columbia of the Monte Cristo peaks still patched with snowfields).  Glacier Peak is off in the distance and you can make out significant details of the peaks glaciers and voila!, Guardian Rock, a significant mark on the east face of Glacier.  I can also make out details of Gamma Peak  . . . another one of my long-standing hiking goals.

"Hike Nude" gets advertised wherever I can ...
Remember those hunters.  Well, I met them on their way back out . . . a rather sad thing for me as the lead hiker had a bear's head and skin draped over a piece of plastic atop his backpack while his buddies carried out very modern-looking, scoped hunting rifles.  I had seen them coming and stepped to the side of the trail to let them pass.  One of them quipped, "What happened to your pants?"  which I turned into a joke with, "Pants?  Pants?  I forgot them again?"  They continued on with a chuckle but I felt a little depressed about the bear they had slaughtered.  I have a hard time coming to terms with guns and hunting . . . even though I know there are innumerable folks who love to hunt.  I continued inbound letting the bright sunlight and gentle breezes cheer me up.

In the 90's this entire ridge area suffered a series of wildfires that decimated the old growth atop the ridge.  When the ridge recovered, smaller shrubs and bushes took over . . . and these open meadows take on a riotous melody of color in the summer.  Everywhere, just under the top layer of weathered topsoil, lays an thick carpet of nutrient-rich fire ash . . . and fruiting shrubs have taken to forming massive colonies of interconnected plants . . . . huckleberry shrubs amongst them, burgeoning reddened leaves as the summer ripens their fruits.

Blueberries I had seen lower down on the trail . . . though picked clean by previous hikers and certainly the bears who inhabit these slopes (with one less than the day before).  At first it didn't connect that these short, little shrubs were huckleberry shrubs . . . probably because while on the trail whatever fruit they may have produced had been picked clean.

Picking wild huckleberries
Just before the first significant drop into the saddle onto Benchmark Mountain I came across a huge, gentle meadow with an obvious footpath leading off the main trail . . . the whole meadow guarded by a isolated small grove of trees surrounding a cleared site complete with a campfire ring from past seasons.  Curiosity had me turning down that footpath toward a small rise and some large boulders suitable for taking a break upon . . . and my feet needed to be out of the boots for awhile to breath and un-tighten.

It was getting on in the day and I knew I shouldn't dawdle too long, yet this location was perfect for just enjoying the sun . . . and to boot, it was off the trail but commanding a great view of it a quarter mile away.  I relaxed . . . snacked on GORP . . . and lay back for a snooze.  Sometime later while wandering around in just socks I noticed all the berries on these shrubs.  Everywhere I turned, thousands of bushes laden with ripe huckleberries.  Couldn't pass this up . . .

I'd packed three bottles of water with me . . . two of them empty now.  So I spent the next hour in the middle of those meadows picking huckleberries and hoping I could get them back without turning them to mush.

This was bliss.  I could well imagine myself having pitched a small tent in the grove of trees and then having the entire afternoon to wander about Pollyanna-style and naked without a care in the world except to gingerly roll plump huckleberries between fingers and thumb to release from the shrub and drop into the neck of the filling water bottles.  I really did not have any idea how much time I spent in those meadows until I finally had no more room to stuff any more berries in my full plastic containers.  It was simply enjoyable.

On the saddle before Benchmark Mountain
Eventually you have to shake yourself out of the reverie and remember just how far you are from civilization and that it gets cold up here at this elevation once the sun goes down.  The boots went back on and I headed back to the main trail.  I hiked only a little bit further.  Though Benchmark was close, I still needed at least four hours to get back.  Reluctantly, I turned around.

Muted, filtered sunlight in the late afternoon
Hours later, back on the familiar trail coming off the ridge I slow down, knowing the trail-head is reasonably close.

The footbridge near the end of the hike
 . . . and then it's the foot-bridge across the river and a few moments more before coming out onto the trail-head parking area.  No one there.  It's a nice drive back out of the mountains and back toward Seattle . . . nude most of the way, of course.

Pecan-Caramel Ice Cream with Fresh Wild Huckleberries

... and the reward?  Why a bowl of ice cream topped with the sweet tartness of wild huckleberries. A week later I still have firm, fresh huckleberries in the fridge waiting to top cereal and dessert!

Getting to the trailhead:  Drive US Highway 2 to just west of milepost 50 (located between the town of Skykomish and the Skykomish Ranger Station). Turn north onto Beckler Road #65, toward Beckler River Campground. From US Highway 2 on FS Road #65, drive 15 miles and turn right on FS Road #63. Continue 4.2 miles to the trailhead, on the south side of the parking lot.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Turn Your Photos into Oil Paintings

Nifty site where you can upload images and turn them into realistic-looking oil paintings (amongst many other effects).

As you can probably tell, I've got too much time on my hands.  Monthly therapy was last week and I've been stuck at home for the few days needed afterward.

Nude gardening in my back yard
(wish there were a way to change where the reflection
would be but I do like the overall effect).

Weeding the rose plants

Hiking in the Cascade Mountains

Monday, September 3, 2012

How to Make a White Balance Adjustment to your Photos

I commented on a previous hike (and several other times) about adjusting the white balance of your images to get more pleasing results . . . especially of the skin tones.  Our eyes are remarkably flexible and nimble in interpreting lighting conditions to render what we see.  But cameras do not easily adjust necessarily the way we perceive things.  A picture taken in a room lit by an incandescent light bulb comes out with overly warm orange-casts while the same image under fluorescent  lighting may appear overly green.

Sometimes we want these effects . . . as in pictures taken during sunset for the vibrant red colors produced by ambient light that has taken the long way through the atmosphere and color-shifted down into the reds.  My favorite time to take pictures is in the late afternoon when the light from the sun is actually warmer (color-wise).

Getting out into the forests adds a slight wrinkle to photography . . . while the light from the sun may be good, it is reflecting endlessly back and forth off of a lot of green vegetation and leaves and that light is adding a slight green tinge to your photographs.  The same sort of thing would happen if you took a picture in the deep earthen tones of the badlands of Eastern Washington and wondered why everything took on a very 'tanned' look. What is needed is a way to shift the overall color-balance of the image back to "standard" sunlight . . . remove that greenish, or reddish or whatever tinge.  Adjusting the white balance during post-production is one easy way to take a major step in restoring what your eyes have seen.  I'm going to show you how to do that in two popular and free image editing programs . . . PhotoScape and G.I.M.P.

Both these programs are free and contain no annoying spyware.  PhotoScape is the easier to use while G.I.M.P. is a very powerful, almost clone of Adobe's expensive Photoshop.  Both will allow you to adjust the white balance of an image.

A Note on Image Editing:

The de'facto format for storing an image nowadays is the Jpeg format (the .JPG extension on your pictures).  JPeg is a lossy format, meaning that information is lost every time you edit and resave the image.  After a number of edits and saves a Jpeg image will begin to take on artifacts that degrade the image.  It usually takes quite a while for these artifacts to become noticeable so you want to make ALL your edits at one time before you save the finished image . . . or save the interim image in a non-lossy format such as BMP or TIFF.  Needless to say, use SAVE AS with a different file name rather than SAVE so that you always have the original image to start over with.  PhotoScape makes this easy as it saves the originals into another folder automatically for you.

A Reference to Something White

The camera doesn't know what is pink or green or blue or white.  It only knows about the color temperature of the light reflecting off of objects in your image . . . even if that reflected light has had a lot of green added from bouncing around in the forest canopy.  But if we have something showing in our images that we know the color, we can use that as a reference to simultaneously correct all the other colors throughout the image later.  White is the best choice since white is a combination of all colors and the easiest to use as a reference.

The white reference I most often use are my white socks (since I'm a nudist and rarely wear much of anything else).  It could be a white hat or something as simple as a white piece of paper or an index card placed somewhere in the image where it can be cropped out later.  In the images used as examples below I used a pair of white socks carried in my fanny pack as a white reference.

Adjusting White Balance in PhotoScape

From the publisher of PhotoScape:

PhotoScape is an all-in-one style photo editor with fun and ease of use. Major capabilities are: viewer, editor, batch editor, page, combine, animated GIF, print, splitter, screen capture, color picker, rename, raw converter, resizing, brightness/color/white-balance adjustment, backlight correction, frames, balloons, text, drawing pictures, cropping, filters, red eye removal and blooming
PhotoScape is free and can be downloaded here.

Before adjustment
Adjusting the white balance of an image is simple within PhotoScape.  Click the drop-down arrow by 'Bright,Color' and select 'White Balance'.  Note that there is also a shortcut key combo to accomplish the same thing . . . 'CTL-W'.  A dialog box comes up with instructions.  The box can be dragged out of the way if necessary.

After Adjustment
Find something white in the image and hover the cross-hair cursor over it.  Click to see the changes the program will make.  If unsatisfied you can click in a slightly different area.  When satisfied, click 'Yes'.  Make any other adjustments you may want and then save the image.  Make sure you select the 'Make backup copy ...' during the save dialog.

Adjusting White Balance in G.I.M.P.

GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.
It has many capabilities. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, etc.
GIMP is expandable and extensible. It is designed to be augmented with plug-ins and extensions to do just about anything. The advanced scripting interface allows everything from the simplest task to the most complex image manipulation procedures to be easily scripted.

GIMP has been described as the open-source version of Adobe's Photoshop, and like Photoshop, there is a steep learning curve to getting the most out of GIMP.   GIMP is sometimes slow and quirky in Windows (mainly because it was developed for the open-source community comprised mainly of Linux users and there have been a lack of dedicated Windows developers for GIMP).  However, the power of GIMP far surpasses the minor glitches that sometimes pop up.  GIMP can be downloaded here.

Before Adjustment
Within G.I.M.P. with your image opened,  select 'Colors' and then 'Levels' to open the Levels dialog.  This dialog can be a little intimidating but we are only interested in three buttons with eyedroppers near the bottom  . . . Black Reference, Grey Reference, and White Reference (Hint: Hover the cursor over each button for Tool Tips description).  Since white is the most common reference available in an image, click the outermost button,  Make sure the 'Preview' checkbox is selected.

After Adjustment
Moving the cursor over the image will change the cursor to a color-picker eyedropper.  As with PhotoScape, click in a known white area to preview the changes.  It not satisfactory, click a different area.

 G.I.M.P. saves in it's own proprietary lossless format, which is fine if you want to make changes in the future.  To save to the more common JPEG format you choose to 'Export' the image under the 'File' menu.

G.I.M.P. also has a handy facility to aid in post-production composition of your images . . . Guides:

Golden Means Gridlines overlain on the image.
Note how the axis of the torso is directly on one of the grids?
I've alluded to Golden Sections and composition before.  This handy facility aids you in cropping your images so that your subjects are situated in the most pleasing compositional arrangement.  Whenever you select or use the crop tool (it looks like a scalpel in the toolset), you have the option to overlay a grid over the selected area of the image.  Select a grid (or guide) from the dropdown box to the bottom right.  The goal is to crop (or move) your image so that the subject falls on one of the intersection points of the lines . . . or on the line, itself.

So sad: Hiker found fallen to his death in the Wild Sky Wilderness

Such sad news and I kind of regret the flippant remarks I made in my previous post about "everybody and their brother."   Someone is now less his brother.

I've seen some of the terrain these young men attempted to traverse and it can get pretty ugly around the flanks of Gunn, Townsend and Merchant Peaks.  I'm assuming they made their approach via Trout Creek and the Sunset Mine road.  I've gone only as far as the old ruins and mining claims at the base of Merchant's and given up any thought of the tough scramble beyond . . . though I've often wanted to see the lakes above.

My condolences to the family.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Nudity on Labor Day Weekend?

That traditional last fling of summer and you know that everybody and their brother is going to be out in the National Forests for camping and just plain old fun in the sunshine.  But who can pass up marvelous weather such as we had.  The trick, of course, is where can you go to enjoy being au'natural in the wilderness without encountering every camp site, every river access and multitudes of carloads of people occupying just about every possibility to be alone?

I was going to do the Blanca Lake hike and I arrived early . . . eight am . . . with the idea that I could get the trail before anyone else and be able to hike this popular destination nude.  Such was not to be after I'd driven deep into the mountains only to find five other carloads of people already there.  

The good news . . . if such were to be noted . . . is that I'd discovered the top loop of the Index-Galena Road was again open all the way back to the original road break north of Trout Creek, re-opening the Troublesome Creek and San Juan campgrounds as well as cutting five miles off a future Silver Creek-Mineral City excursion.  Still, everywhere I hoped to pull off and park for a nude hike, someone had already claimed the spot.   All of my favorite hiking areas were hampered by simply too many people wandering about.  I was about to give up when I found one small pullout between the occupied San Juan Campground and the old townsite of Galena on the North Fork of the Skykomish.

On the North Fork of the Skykonish River near Galena
The North Fork of the Skykomish River scours a wide floodplain and is a favorite of mine to get in some nude riverside hiking because to the amount of sunlight exposure and the gentle breezes.  Between Galena (where there are still a few mineral claim cabins) and the San Juan Campground (where there were a number of tents pitched) I had almost a mile of riverside to myself to hike along and enjoy.  Of course, such short excursions do not satisfy the need between driving nude along forest service roads and hopping out at other unused spots to take in another half hour of nude strolling around.  Driving back down the Beckler River side of the loop I'm surprised at the number of cars heading inbound, probably looking for spots as well.  Passing them at five to ten miles an hour on the dusty gravel roads at a pullout, you can help but feel just a little bit self-conscious of your nudity when the other car is so close to yours.  But no one seems to take notice or even be aware as they get past you and spin up a cloud of choking dust on their way inbound.  I quit pulling a piece of cloth over my lap and just put to trust that driving is on their minds and not looking into the interiors of cars they meet of narrow forest service roads.

Finding a suitable trail to enjoy nude
A trail need not be official to be enjoyable to hike.  I know of a number of them and back on Highway 2 it is a simple matter to note whether someone has already pulled off there and if not, my turn.  No campsites here . . . just a steep trail which suits my purposes just fine . . . and it's off to hiking nude and in quiet contemplation.  Even on a busy Labor day weekend you can have your cake and eat it too.  Hike on nude everybody!  We're taking back the wilderness for nude recreation one tree at a time ...

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Perils of Clothing

When I was much younger I used to suffer all the time from skin rashes . . . from the simple heat rash variety to some pretty annoying allergic reactions with accompanying hives.  As a teenager living in the foothills near San Diego, California I had my first brush-up with Poison Oak and that episode left me with a complete rash from the soles of my feet to the top of my scalp.  We visited a 'witch doctor' in Escondido who gave me a shot of poison oak extract and advised my parents to scrub my body daily with lava soap.  I suffered through two weeks of agonizing itching, soreness and dehydration as my skin weeped and glued bed sheets to my body.  My mother told me years later that they really thought I was going to die . . . such was the condition I was in . . . and yet, they trusted the doctor . . . who were they to tell him otherwise?.  The only positive outcome of that episode is that now I appear to be essentially immune to reactions from the poison oak varieties . . . not that I tempt fate by wandering through thickets of poison oak just for the heck of it (nude or otherwise.)

Year later I discovered that I was allergic to Neomycin after suffering the classic signs of a traveling rash that itched like crazy and then produced a case of monster hives on my chest.

Forward a little bit after that and I was visiting doctors to deal with prickly heat rashes that perfectly matched the outline of my underwear . . . later to learn that I was now somewhat sensitive to good-ole friendly laundry bleach . . . a product that has been banned from my washing machine ever since.

Soooooo . . . what has this got to do with nudism and naturism?  Glad you asked.

A couple of days ago I got home from work and stripped as soon as I was in the door (first item to come off, the watch . . . I never feel nude if I'm still wearing a watch) . . . heading for some sun in the backyard.  While sitting there soaking in the rays I contemplated my feet . . . very often not free when I hike nude because of the necessity to be prudent and protect the feet tasked with getting me safely home.  A picture should do to illustrate:

After  day of having to wear shoes
How pitiful they looked!  Red, sore, hot . . . the weave of socks deeply imprinted within the skin for hours to come.  Contrast that with the healthier skin of an upper thigh that sees a lot of sunlight and fresh air:

The skin of my upper thigh is vibrant and responsive . . . it feels alive!

Days later I got to thinking about aspects of driving nude and just why I do it.  There is one part of my body that is extremely sensitive to the 'kiss' of sunlight and breeze upon it (no, it's not that) and that is a band of skin roughly analogous to the lower waistline . . . specifically a band a couple of inches wide running from the protuberance of hip bone to hip bone.  Doesn't matter that everything else could be covered by a teeshirt or a towel across the lap . . . this band of skin responds sensuously to any light breezes or the warming rays of sunlight upon it.  It is also unfortunate that the seat belt also runs across this area and I have a habit of adjusting the belt higher just to keep the skin underneath exposed and free.

It would be my educated guess that, like my poor feet and the shoes we must wear, this area suffers from the predilection in our society towards skin-squashing elastic briefs and trousers and belts that do a major disservice to the aliveness of the skin beneath.  We do not allow it to breath, we trap the sweat up against it for long hours at a time . . . we slowly poison our own skin.

I tan reasonably easy . . . not a deep tan, just a good coloration reflecting my Mediterranean heritage.  However there is one part of my body that never seems to take on a tan very easily and . . . you guessed it . . . it is that one band of skin running from hip to hip.  I have to wonder if all those years of tight jeans have actually crippled the ability of that skin beneath to respond as it was designed to do so.

Skin rashes are what got me into nudism in the first place . . . under orders from a wise old Dr. Marcus, MD-style practitioner who suggested I find a quiet, secluded spot in my backyard and catch some rays on my skin to help clear up my 'pelvic' rashes . . . which meant nude, of course.  And that therapy worked marvelously . . . better than any stinky cream or ointment available at exorbitant prices at the pharmacy.  On top of that very painless medical therapy it is also very pleasant and calming.  If only all medical procedures were this enjoyable!  Now I free the largest sensory organ of my body every chance I can get to give it a dose of fresh air and natural sunlight as possible.

If there was ever an argument for NOT wearing clothes, the health of the skin is got to be near the top of the list.

NAC Action Alert - California Parks

                     NATURIST ACTION COMMITTEE
                           ACTION ALERT
Copyright 2012 by the Naturist Action Committee, which is responsible for its content.
Permission is granted for the posting, forwarding or redistribution of this message, provided
that it is reproduced in its entirety and without alteration.

DATE       :  August 31, 2012
SUBJECT:  California
TO           :  Naturists and other concerned citizens

Dear Naturist,

This is an Action Alert from the Naturist Action Committee. NAC is asking for your immediate involvement in an effort to have the State of California create officially designated areas for clothing-optional recreation in state parks.


   1. Attend a meeting of the California Park and Recreation Commission on September 28.

   2. Contact the Commission in writing.


The California State Park and Recreation Commission is NOT the same thing as the State Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). The Commission has specific authorities and responsibilities which are defined in California law. Those include the approval of general plans for units of the State Park System, classifying units of the System, establishing general policies for the guidance of the Director of State Parks in the administration, protection and development of the System, and recommending to the Director a comprehensive recreation policy for the state.

In the wake of the recent scandal involving the California Department of Parks and Recreation, NAC is looking for the appointed State Park bureaucracy to assert some leadership. The Commission has the authority and the responsibility to establish general policy and to recommend policy to DPR, and that’s what NAC is seeking.


If you’re in the southern California area, NAC requests that you attend a public meeting of the State Park and Recreation Commission that is scheduled to be held in Santa Monica on Friday, September 28, 2012.

   DATE: Friday, September 28, 2012
   TIME: 9:00 a.m.
     Annenberg Community Beach House
     Garden Terrace Room
     415 Pacific Coast Highway
     Santa Monica, California 90402

The Commission’s agenda and public notice of the meeting are available at:

The naturist issue is not on the agenda for the meeting. Regardless, we need to let the Commission know of our concerns and our expectations. Members of the public will have an opportunity to give brief statements during the public comment portion of the meeting. Whether you speak or not, your presence at the meeting is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to lend support to the message of naturists. We seek the setting aside of areas for clothing-optional recreation in State Park units.

There are few items on the meeting agenda for September 28, and the meeting is likely to move quickly. Please plan to be at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica no later than a half hour before the start of the meeting. Those who wish to speak must sign up to do so before the meeting commences.

NOTE: The Commission has not met since January 27, 2012. NAC was there for that meeting, and with your help and participation, we’ll make a significant showing at this meeting, too. However, at this rate, your next chance to address the Park and Rec Commission may be in late May of 2013. Don’t miss your opportunity to make a difference in September!

If you’re planning to attend the meeting, please contact:

  NAC board member Allen Baylis
  (714) 962-0915

or NAC executive director Bob Morton
  (512) 282-6621


If you’re unable to attend the meeting, you can still help. NAC asks that you write to the Commission. Send your comments by e-mail, fax or surface mail. Those who will be at the meeting on September 28 are also encouraged to write.


NAC is requesting ALL NATURISTS and other concerned individuals to contact California officials on this important matter, regardless of your place of residence. California understands the importance of out-of-state visitors who come to enjoy the state’s beaches, lakes and streams. The opportunity to provide diverse recreational opportunities applies to those visitors, as well as to California residents. While all are encouraged to make their voices heard, the participation of Californians is, of course, particularly important.

Send a letter, a fax or an e-mail. Phone calls will likely be ineffective in this specific context.

     California State Park & Recreation Commission
     PO Box 942896
     Sacramento, CA 94296
     FAX: (916) 654-6374
     Louis Nastro, Assistant to the Commission

Send a copy to:

     California Department of Natural Resources
     Natural Resources Agency
     1416 Ninth Street, Suite 1311
     Sacramento, CA 95814
     FAX: (916) 653-8102

NAC encourages you to send copies of your faxes and paper mail to:

      NAC, PO Box 132, Oshkosh, WI 54903.

Send copies of your e-mails to:


When you write:

   a) Be polite.

   b) Be known. Give your name and address. If you are a California resident
       or a frequent visitor to California, be sure to point that out.
       Anonymous letters have very little impact.

   c) Be focused. Keep your correspondence brief and on target.

   d) Be positive. Remember that we’re trying to ENCOURAGE the Parks
       Department to do something. Please do not take a scolding tone.

   e) Be clear. Say that you SUPPORT the designation of clothing-optional
       areas in units of the State Park System.

   f) Be sure to make a request that your correspondence (letter, fax, e-mail)
      be included in the permanent public record of the California Park and
      Recreation Commission meeting of September 28, 2012.

Additional talking / writing points:

   1) This is NOT just about San Onofre State Beach. Although that beach was the first State Park unit at which DPR killed its policy for managing clothing-optional recreation, it has not been the last. Ticketing for mere nudity in State Park units has spread throughout the entire state of California. A unified policy is exactly what the Commission is responsible for creating, but the present lack of a comprehensive statewide policy threatens ALL clothing-optional areas in California State Park units. Consider the implications for Black’s (Torrey Pines), Gaviota, Bonny Doon and many others.

   2) Parks Department policy against clothing-optional recreation is completely out of sync with public sentiment and the expressed preferences of California residents. A public opinion survey on this topic was commissioned in 2009 by the Naturist Education Foundation and was conducted by the prestigious polling firm of Zogby International. In that statewide poll:

   79 percent of Californians believe people should be allowed to enjoy nude sunbathing on a beach or other location that is designated for that purpose.

   60 percent of Californians say that they are not offended by the nonsexual nudity of others.

   62 percent of Californians agree that the California Department of Parks and Recreation should exercise the legal authority it presently has to designate clothing-optional areas in state parks.

   View details of the 2009 NEF California Poll:

   3) Former officials of the Parks Department attempted to justify their vendetta against clothing-optional recreation by saying they were “doing the will of the people.” That was clearly no more true than many of the other deceptions for which those same officials were responsible.

   4) For thirty years, the Department’s Cahill Policy allowed a means to manage for clothing-optional recreation in units of the State Park system. The nullification of the Cahill Policy has left the department with no statewide policy to address a form of recreation that’s obviously popular with the public. It’s the duty of the Commission to address matters of policy.

   5) Officials of the Parks and Rec Department have pointed to lewd behavior as a reason for prohibiting nudity. In doing so, they have confused simple nudity with lewd behavior. Rangers presently have the authority and responsibility to stop lewd activity, and naturists encourage them to exercise that responsibility appropriately. However, that specific authority is separate and different from the legal authority the Parks Department has to establish areas for clothing-optional recreation.

Additional information and links are available, along with this NAC Action Alert on the web site of the Naturist Action Committee.

Select "Alerts" and find this NAC Action Alert under Current Alerts.

The Naturist Action Committee is the volunteer nonprofit political adjunct to The Naturist Society. NAC exists to advance and protect the rights and interests of naturists throughout North America. Fighting for the clothing-optional recreational use of public land is expensive. To do its job, NAC relies entirely on the voluntary generosity of supporters like you.

After you've made your plans to attend the Commission meeting on September 28 and/or contacted the officials at the Commission and the Natural Resources Agency, please take a moment to send a donation to:

   PO Box 132
   Oshkosh, WI 54903

Or call toll free (800) 886-7230 to donate by phone using your MasterCard, Visa or Discover Card. Or use your credit card to make a convenient online donation:

Thank you for choosing to make a difference!


Allen Baylis
Naturist Action Committee

Naturist Action Committee (NAC) - PO Box 132, Oshkosh, WI 54903
Executive Dir. Bob Morton       -
Board Member Allen Baylis       -
Board Member Charles Harris     -
Online Rep. Dennis Kirkpatrick  -

NAC Action Alert - Seattle, WA

                     NATURIST ACTION COMMITTEE
                           ACTION ALERT
Copyright 2012 by the Naturist Action Committee, which is responsible for its content.
Permission is granted for the posting, forwarding or redistribution of this message,
provided that it is reproduced in its entirety and without alteration.

DATE       : September 1, 2012
SUBJECT : Seattle Parks Survey
TO           : Naturists and other concerned citizens

Dear Naturist,

This is an Action Alert from the Naturist Action Committee. NAC is asking you to participate in the ongoing effort by naturists and others to establish an officially recognized clothing optional beach in Seattle, Washington.


A skinny-dipper friend of ours has pointed out to me that Seattle Parks & Recreation has a new online survey out. While taking it, I found three opportunities to say that I favored Seattle Parks’ establishing a clothing-optional beach. This is an easy opportunity for naturists and their allies to speak up.

Please take the five minutes needed for the survey, and be nice. When the Naturist Action Committee and the Body Freedom Collaborative met with Parks officials not long ago, officials made clear to us that they needed to know that there were actually a large number of people interested in nude beaches. Here's a chance to move in that direction. People living in and near Seattle, WA are especially encouraged to take the survey, but others can, too.

The survey is at the following URL:


The Naturist Action Committee works for the clothing-optional recreational use of public land. To do its job, NAC relies entirely on the voluntary generosity of supporters like you.

Please take a moment to send a donation to:

   PO Box 132
   Oshkosh, WI 54903

Or call toll free (800) 886-7230 to donate by phone using your MasterCard, Visa or Discover Card. Or use your credit card to make a convenient online donation:

Thank you for choosing to make a difference!


Bob Morton
Executive Director
Naturist Action Committee

Naturist Action Committee (NAC) - PO Box 132, Oshkosh, WI 54903
Executive Dir. Bob Morton       -
Board Member Mark Storey        -
Online Rep. Dennis Kirkpatrick  -

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