Saturday, August 21, 2010

Holy Naked Hiking Tortugas!

June 21: The first day of summer was bright and sunny, as well it should be. I also had a decision to make: the solstice walk. The first day of summer is often known as Hike Naked Day among hikers, and for over a year, I've been thinking about trying it myself.

Most of us get into our set, established ways. It's comfortable, though often times, kind of boring as well. Sometimes, when I start feeling trapped in a gutter, I want to do something out of my comfort zone. Something a little bit scary, but not necessarily dangerous. And over a year ago, I started thinking about hiking naked for Hike Naked Day. Somewhere remote, well off the beaten path, where I may very well not see any other hikers all day long.

This day, I found myself camped near Kearsarge Pass. I had seen a few people camped on the other side of it, but it seemed doubtful that there would be a lot of folks camped so near the tailhead. It was early in the morning. And a weekday, which would likely limit the number of day hikers in the area. I estimated that I was about an hour's walk from the trailhead. It was a little close to the trailhead--who knows how many day hikers used it--but it was early in the morning on a weekday in the middle of nowhere. How many people could there possibly be? It seemed entirely possible I could hike all the way to the trailhead not seeing anybody at all, I thought.

Yes, I would hike naked. I think. I waited for the sun to rise--it was a bit cold out, and a little warmth in the air would be nice for hiking naked. I ate breakfast like normal, then started packing up my pack. At the end, I took off all my clothes, slipped on socks and shoes (I did need to hike, after all), put on sunglasses and my hat (still need sun protection for the eyes!), and slipped on my pack. The pack bulged a little larger than normal since I stuffed it with the hiking clothes I usually was wearing. The downside of hiking naked was that one's pack is heavier with the unused clothing. But I was naked, and I was ready to hike!

I normally wear a waist pack, and wondered if I should do so for Hike Naked Day or not. It's convenient, being able to grab my maps, sunscreen, camera, or snacks without taking off my pack. It would partially hide certain important parts of my anatomy, but it almost seems like I was trying to hide myself. It's more a matter of comfort, though, not hiding, and finally decided to wear it as normal. It didn't fully cover me anyhow.

I need pictures, though. Nobody was around to take photos for me--thank god--so I set up my camera on a rock, set the self-timer, and rushed over to get in the picture. I sat down on a rock, crossing my legs, hoping to get a picture with all the pertinent stuff covered to make it safe for posting publicly and online. =) I took several photos, hoping at least one of them would be usable.

I chose not to apply sunscreen. It was still early in the morning and the trail was largely shaded, and I'd only be out for an hour before I hit the trailhead. Not long enough to worry about burning any sensitive parts.

Photo session over, I started hiking. Naked. I had been hiking for about five minutes, watching my feet closely as I hiked over rocks and snow, making sure not to slip or trip, when I heard a woman's voice ahead of me shout, "Hike Naked Day! Woo-who!" I hadn't seen the person, and the exclamation startled me. At least whoever it was seemed to take my being naked okay. At the same time, I looked up to see who it was that caught me hiking naked. It was two girls, neither of whom I recognized, which I considered a good thing.

As I passed the first one, I stopped long enough to ask what her name was. I wanted to make sure I had the name to accurate report my naked hiking experience in my blog, and I figured I should at least learn who the first person to catch me was. She introduced herself as Fidget, and her friend as Anne. I was a little too shy to stay and talk long. I just wanted an accurate record of who caught me hiking naked. (She later posted her account of our first meeting on her blog, if you're interested in reading her point of view.)

About ten minutes later, I passed another hiker--Mr. Mountain Goat--and I recognized him the moment I saw him. I last saw him near Warner Springs and had been reading his hiking blog whenever I got a chance. So when I saw him hiking up the trail, I exclaimed, "Mr. Mountain Goat!"

He looked up at me, "Err, have we met?"

"It's me! Green Tortuga!" I said cheerfully.

"Hey, Tortuga. You look.... different.....?"

"Yeah, I'm naked! Happy Hike Naked Day!"

We chatted for a few minutes. He seemed to have trouble looking me in the eye, his eyes shifting around for somewhere safe to land while talking. Finally, we shook hands and continued on our separate ways. (To read Mr. Mountain Goat's version of our meeting, read the Glenn Pass section of his blog entry. We were on Kearsarge Pass, but he lumped his second hike over Kearsarge Pass with Glenn Pass.)

I passed several other hikers on my way down--nine in total, though only Fidget and Mr. Mountain Goat were thru-hikers. Anne was out for a section hike with her friend, Fidget. The other six were day hikers. One older man with a large dog worried me a bit. "Please, don't stick the dog on me. Please...."

But they all seemed too surprised at my nakedness than anything else. They seemed largely speechless, and I tore past them before they regained the ability to speak. I also passed nearby a camp with half a dozen or so folks by a lake. Their camp was slightly off trail, for which I was thankful, and I tore past quickly hoping I'd get through before any of them even noticed me. If any of them did notice them, they didn't call out or draw my attention.

I could see the trailhead from the distance, and about five minutes before I figured I'd reached it, I stopped to put my clothes back on. I needed to hitch a ride into Independence, and I figured my chances were better if I wasn't naked. Anyhow, it was Hike Naked Day. Not Hitchhike Naked Day. I had nothing more to prove. =)

At the trailhead, I bumped into Tom and Evan. I first met them at a restaurant in Idyllwild, and I saw Evan a second time doing trail work just before the trail crossed Interstate 10. I asked Evan if he was doing trail work out here too, which seemed to confuse him. Turns out, he's actually a thru-hiker, and had stopped for a couple of weeks to do trail work when I met him in Idyllwild. Tom gave me an orange and an offered a ride down into Independence which I happily accepted. I didn't even have to stick out my thumb, and I already got a ride!

Evan was packing his pack with a boatload of food to feed an army. Well, maybe not an army, but at least enough for three people. He was planning to hike up to the PCT to meet the two Israeli girls and resupply them, saving them the effort of hiking over Kearsarge Pass and going into town. Lucky girls! Tom and Evan weren't entirely sure if they were still on schedule or not, though, so I told them where I last saw them the day before and that they had planned to camp exactly on schedule near Bullfrog Lake. They seemed please to get solid information about the girls whereabouts. Or at least confirmation that the girls were where they were expected to be.

Evan headed off up Kearsarge Pass, and Tom drove me into Independence. I checked into the Winnedumah Hotel, a nice bed and breakfast. It cost a little more than I wanted to pay, but they had a computer available for use which sold me. And since I was the only thru-hiker who checked in, I had the computer all to myself the whole afternoon. Got a lot of work done on Atlas Quest during that time. =)

Independence is a tiny little town with one main street, two gas stations, and a Subway restaurant. There wasn't much in town to do, but I was perfectly happy using the computer most of the day. Resupplying was a little tougher. I went to both the Chevron and Shell station convenience stores, picking up about a week's worth of supplies from their meager selections. I was pretty happy with most of my food, except cereal of which neither had anything I particularly wanted. I ultimately settled for a box of Lucky Charms and another box of Fruit Loops, but I wasn't happy about them.

As dusk rolled around, mean-looking clouds filled the sky. It didn't rain, not that I saw, at least, but I wondered about how the other hikers were fairing in the mountains. I found myself thankful that I was safely tucked under a roof.

COME ON! If I can hike naked, certainly you can throw a few bucks towards the Hike-a-Thon! =) 

During the month of August, I'll be participating with Amanda in the Washington Trail Association's Hike-a-Thon. If you haven't already, please consider sponsoring us. (Especially me!) The folks do great work helping to fix up and maintain trails such as the Pacific Crest Trail and help make thru-hikes such as mine possible. If you enjoy reading this blog, consider giving something back to the trails that make it possible. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

HELP! QUICK....eye bleach!


Okie Dog said...

If I'd known you were going to hike naked I might have waited to give you my few bucks til then. Would have been more interesting had you been standing holding on to a pole....with a tassle on...oops! Only Nanni could get by with that....

Stacy Christian said...

Why, oh why did I have to click on this link?

Goofy girl said...

I knew what to expect and still clicked on the link... thanks for the unexposed pictures--- please save the others for Amanda. Glad you are having fun on your hike.

Anonymous said... this is where the postcard came from...It looked like a beautiful mountain, and poor little stick figure dude wou drew looked sort of cold and naked...


RacecarMommy3 said...

Too funny...well atleast until my kids heard me laughing and then I had to try to explain about naked hiking day. lol.

veganf said...

You rule! I hope to get out next year for the big day, LOL, maybe somewhere way up in NH or VT, heh heh.

Kaaren said...

Ha Ha Ha Ha!! Is this a *real* day? Really?

Librarian Lainey said...

That's great! My boyfriend and I honored hike naked day last year. This year we participated in the National Guinness World Record Skinny Dipping event at Willamettans Nudist Resort. They were open to the public for the day and camping out there was only $6. No record was broken but it was great fun anyway, we overflowed the pool with 200+ people! :)

Anonymous said...

Hmm. That could explain some 'unusual' sightings in the past. So what was the gal's problem they weren't participating? And where was that flighty friend of yours?!


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

So, you were "jouncing down the trail" doing "the backpacker's salute" to Hike Naked Day. Hmmm....

Thanks for sharing the more discreet photos. *nodding* :P :D

Thank goodness for such thoughtful folks like Tom and Evan helping out those two girls you left behind. I hope they really were ok and made it to the lake safely.

I hope Charmin was ok, too.

Looks like an angry storm was over the Sierras.

Sounds like your detour to Independence worked out pretty well for you.

Hike On!
~Twinville Trekkers