Saturday, May 28, 2005

Take a Nature Hike Amongst the Trees (au' natural of course)

A naturist is said to be one who strives to become one with nature and I certainly backpack and hike in such a way that I take the time to 'smell the roses' and let my senses soak in everything they can about my environment. In many ways the NATURIST is very much like the NATURALIST . . . except, of course, we enjoy our surroundings without any clothes on.

Hiking the trails presents a diverse plethora for the senses. A tree is just not any old tree. There are many types of trees and they say alot about the environment and terrain we are hiking through. When we open up all our senses and take this in we learn not only about the trees but we learn about the entire ecosystem . . . flora and fauna both . . . and perhaps a little bit about our place in this wonderful place.

In the Cascades of Washington we can see and experience several different types of trees such as: the Cypress, Douglas-fir, Hemlock, Incense-cedar, Juniper, Larch, Pine, Red Cedar, Spruce, True Cedar, True Fir, White-cedar and the Yew. Each of these trees grows in prefered environments and locations and it is interesting and educational to see the nature of the forest change as you gain altitude or perhaps arrive on a northern-facing slope.

I wish to acknowledge Oregon State University whose website (the link in the title) provide just about all the information in this article. I have only consolidated that volumnous data to concentrate on the Washington State Cascades area. We start with the most common tree, the pine.

The Pines (Pinus)

  • Long, narrow needles are bound in bundles resembling whisk brooms.
  • Fruits are large, woody cones with thick, tough scales.
  • Branches commonly grow in distinctive "whorls" or rings that make their trunks easy to climb (each whorl represents 1 year's growth).

On a world-wide basis, pines are the most common type of conifer; there are nearly 100 different species. North America alone has over 30! In general, pines are easy to distinguish from other needle-leaved trees because of their long, narrow needles bound in bundles; large, woody cones with tough scales; and distinctive "whorls" of branches that make their trunks easy to climb.

Pine forests are also distinctive. In general, pine trees like a lot of light, so pine forests are open and sunlight spills through to the forest floor. Wind moving through their long needles also gives pine forests a distinctive sound, and no one can miss their unique fragrance.

Eight species of pine are native to the Pacific Northwest, although many others have been introduced. Four pines (lodgepole, sugar, ponderosa, and western white) were named by Scottish botanist David Douglas. Apparently this diversity surprised even him, for he wrote to his employer at the Royal Horticulture Society of England, "you will begin to think that I manufacture pines at my pleasure".

To identify pines, count the needles in each bundle. This will divide the species into smaller groups. Then check the range and the appearance of the cones to pinpoint the species.

  • Two needles per bundle: LODGEPOLE
  • Three needles per bundle: PONDEROSA, JEFFREY, and KNOBCONE
  • Five needles per bundle: WESTERN WHITE, SUGAR, LIMBER, and WHITEBARK

The Pines Common in the North Cascades: Of the eight species of pine only four are common to the Washington slopes of the Cascades. They are:

lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta)

Lodgepole Pine Posted by Hello

  • Needles: Two needles per bundle (clustered); 1-3" long; commonly twisted (contorted).
  • Fruit: Small, egg-shaped cones (1-2" long), often with a prickle at the end of each scale. May remain closed on the tree for years.
  • Bark: Thin, dark, and flaky.
  • Distribution: Abundant in the northern Rocky Mountains and Pacific Coast region. Grow from 0-11,500 ft. (0-3600 m). Those along the coast are commonly called shore pine.

ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)

Ponderosa Pine Posted by Hello

  • Needles: Occur in bundles of 3 (rarely 2); 5-10" long; tufted near the ends of branches (needles are held only 2-3 years).
  • Fruit: Egg-shaped cone; 3-5" long; each scale has a straight, stiff prickle that sticks out.
  • Bark: Flakes off in shapes like jigsaw puzzle pieces. Older trees have a distinct yellow or orange color.
  • Distribution: Occurs in the Pacific Coast mountain ranges, throughout the Rocky Mountains, and into northern Mexico. Grows from sea level to 9000 ft. (2800 m).

western white pine (Pinus monticola)

Western White Pine Posted by Hello

  • Needles: Occur in bundles of 5; 2-4" long; white lines on 2 sides of each needle.
  • Fruit: Woody cones, 5-12" long (smaller than sugar pine cones); slender and curved. Cone scales are thin and often curve up on the end.
  • Bark: Dark; broken into small squares or rectangles on older trees (smooth on young trees). Bark often "ringed" where a whorl of branches once grew.
  • Distribution: Occurs in southern British Columbia, the northwestern states, and the Sierra Nevada of California. In the northern portion of their range, the trees grow from sea level to 2500 ft. (750 m).

whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis)

Whiteback Pine Posted by Hello

  • Size: Usually under 50' tall and 2' in diameter. Often distorted or shrub-like.
  • Needles: Occur in bundles of 5; 1-3" long; faint, white lines on all surfaces.
  • Fruit: Small, woody cones, 2-3" long; nearly round; thick cone scales with no prickles. Remain closed on tree even when mature; Seeds are unwinged and a rich source of food for animals.
  • Bark: Thin, scaly, and grayish throughout its life.
  • Distribution: Found in the high mountains of western Canada and the U.S. Grows at or near timberline from 7700 to 12,000 ft. (2350-3750 m) elevation.

True Firs (Abies)

  • Erect cones perch on the topmost branches; scales fall off cones when seeds ripen.
  • Twigs have tiny, circular leaf scars.
  • Young stems have fragrant resin blisters; buds are rounded and are often covered with resin.

True firs are so named to distinguish them from Douglas-firs, Chinese-firs, and a number of other pretenders. Sometimes they're called "balsam firs" because of tiny pockets of resin, or balsam, that occur in their bark. About 40 species of true firs grow in cold regions of the northern hemisphere. True firs are well-adapted to snowy environments because their short, stiff branches and pointed tops shed snow without breaking.

Seven species of true fir are native to western North America; four are native to Washington: grand fir, noble fir, Pacific silver fir and subalpine fir.

All true firs have the following characteristics:
  • Cones that perch like little owls on the topmost branches--so, look aloft for large, erect cones. They often glisten with drops of fragrant, sticky resin.
  • Cones of true firs do not fall intact like other conifer cones. In late fall, their scales tumble off one by one when the seeds have ripened. As a result, cones can only be used to recognize true firs in summer and early fall.
  • Gently pull a needle away from its twig and notice the tiny, circular scar left on the twig. This circle makes it easy to recognize a true fir at any season.
  • Young stems have fragrant resin blisters. Stick them with your finger and they pop, oozing a clear liquid. Resins and oils from the bark and foliage of true firs are used for a variety of products, including perfumes, adhesives, and pharmaceuticals. Some attribute a healing effect to this liquid.
  • The buds of true firs are rounded and are often covered with resin, wax, or curved needles. Buds near the ends of twigs often occur in clusters of three or more.

The True Firs common in the North Cascades

grand fir (Abies grandis)

Grand Fir Posted by Hello

  • Needles: About 1" long; yellow-green on top surface of needles (no white bloom on upper surface)--whitish bands on undersides. Sets of needles flattened or "V" shaped. Needles are two distinct sizes, with alternating long and short needles.
  • Fruit: Upright, cylindrical cones; 3-4" long; bracts shorter than scales. Fall apart when mature.
  • Twigs: Terminal buds round and clustered, and covered with resin. Young twigs are greenish.
  • Distribution: Extends across the Pacific Northwest from sea level to 5100 ft. (1600 m).

Pacific silver fir (Abies amabilis)

Pacific Silver Fir Posted by Hello

  • Needles: Green on top and white underneath; about 1" long. Top needles point forward like ski jumpers.
  • Fruit: Large woody cones (3-6" long); cylindrical in shape; purple in color. Fall apart when mature.
  • Twigs: Buds clustered at tip of branch are usually round, purple in color, and covered with pitch.
  • Bark: Remains gray throughout its life. Resin blisters when young; scaly when older.
  • Distribution: Grows from 1100-6600 ft (350-2000 m) elevation in the Pacific Northwest on southern and western exposures.

noble fir (Abies procera)

Noble Fir Posted by Hello

  • Needles: White on both surfaces; about 1" long; shaped like a hockey stick. Massed on the upper surface of the twig. A tiny groove runs the length of the upper side.
  • Fruit: Large woody cones (4-6" long); cylindrical in shape; have distinctive bracts that look like elephant heads. Fall apart when mature.
  • Twigs: Reddish-brown. Buds clustered at the terminal end are usually round, and are over-lapped by curved needles.
  • Distribution: Occurs along the Pacific coast in Washington, Oregon, and northern California. Commonly found at 3200-5600 ft. (1000-1700 m) elevation on the west side of the Cascade Mountains.

subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa)

Sub-alpine Fir Posted by Hello

  • Needles: White lines both above and below the needle; about 1" long. Massed on the upper surface of the twig; very neat in appearance.
  • Fruit: Cylindrical woody cones about 2-4" long; purple. Fall apart when mature.
  • Twigs: Terminal buds are small, round, and clustered; covered with resin.
  • Distribution: Generally occurs at timberline in cold, humid climates in the Olympic, Cascade, and Rocky Mountains.

Hemlocks (Tsuga)

  • Short needles, generally under 1" long.
  • Small, woody cones (1-3" long).
  • Trees have distinctive droopy tops and branches.

Hemlocks are noted for short needles and droopy tops and branches. There are only about 10 species of hemlock in the world--mostly in North America, China, and Japan. The Pacific Northwest has two hemlocks: the abundant and commercially important western hemlock and the lesser known mountain hemlock. Even when found growing together, they're easy to tell apart. Thw western hemlock is the Wasginton State Tree.

  • mountain hemlock: needles are blue-green on all surfaces, are similar in size, and are uniformly arranged around the twig. Clusters of needles often have a star-like appearance. Cones are cylindrical and are 1 to 3 inches long.
  • western hemlock: needles are all very short, but have distinctly different sizes on the same twig. They are yellow-green on top, and have two white bands on their undersides. They tend to stick out the sides of the twigs, but also occur on top of the twig. Cones are egg-shaped and about 1 inch long.

mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana)

Mountain Hemlock Posted by Hello

  • Needles: Between 1/2" and 1" long; blunt; blue-green in color; star-like appearance on short shoots.
  • Fruit: Woody cones 1-3" long; thin, rounded scales.
  • Twigs: Moderately stout; many short shoots; terminal branch tips have a natural bend; have small, rounded pegs (leaf scars) on twigs.
  • Distribution: Grow on exposed ridges and slopes in the Pacific Northwest, and in the mountains of British Columbia and Idaho. Found at altitudes up to 11,000 ft. (3300 m).

western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla)

Western Hemlock Posted by Hello

  • Needles: Short (under 3/4" long) and blunt; two distinctly different sizes; green above and white underneath each needle; most needles appear to arise from the sides of the twigs.
  • Fruit: Small, woody cones (about 1"); egg-shaped; thin, smooth scales.
  • Twigs: Thin and droopy; have small, rounded pegs (leaf scars) on twigs.
  • Distribution: Primarily found in the coastal regions of the Pacific Northwest. Occurs from sea level to 7400 ft. (2250 m).

Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga)

  • Needles: About 1" long with a blunt tip. Needles are green above with 2 white bands underneath.
  • Fruit: Woody cones 3 to 4 inches long; pitchfork-shaped bracts are longer than scales. Cones hang down.
  • Twig: Large pointed buds with reddish-brown, overlapping scales.
  • Distribution: Abundant in western North America from British Columbia to Mexico. Grows at sea level along the coast to 7000 ft. (2200 m) in the Cascades and Sierras, and to 11,000 ft. (3400 m) in the southern Rockies.

Douglas-fir is the name of an entire genus of trees that contains six species--two native to North America and four native to eastern Asia. Because of its similarity to other genera, Douglas-fir has given botanists fits. It has, at various times, been called a pine, a spruce, a hemlock, and a true fir. In 1867, because of its distinctive cones, it was given its own genus--Pseudotsuga--which means false hemlock. The hyphen in the common name lets us know that Douglas-fir is not a "true" fir--that it's not a member of the Abies genus.

Only one Douglas-fir is native to the Pacific Northwest, and it's by far the most important member of the entire genus. Its common name is identical to that of the genus, reflecting its importance. Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) is Oregon's state tree.

Backpacking into Black Bear Habitat

Standing up on its hind legs allows a bear to get more information from its senses of smell, sight and hearing. It's a sign of curiosity, not agression. However, if you come across a mother and it's cub like in the lower picture, steer clear and be sure to make lots of noise so she knows where you are. Posted by Hello

Over the years I have been hiking and backpacking I've had my occasional encounter with a black bear. The first time surprises and often scares the hiker . . . especially if you are hiking alone and you are hiking nude. You suddenly feel very vulnerable when a black bear sticks it's head out of a thicket on the slope above you and looks in your general direction.

The general advice in dealing with bears is to give them ample warning ahead of time . . . some say attach a small bell to your pack and the tinkling of the bell will allow a bear to get out of your way long before you can come across it, perhaps surprising it into defensive behavior. Others say the bell is nothing more than a dinner bell for the bear.

Whatever you believe, I hold that you should give the bear some chance to get out of your way as preferable to surprising the bear. Bears are shy by nature and will get out of your way . . . but you've got to make some noise. A bell is a little to much for me . . . I just walk noisily and occasionally talk to myself of my hiking partner (if I have one that day).

If encountered by a bear . . . do not stare it down. Make yourself bigger and back slowly out the way you came in. The bear doesn't want an encounter . . . and you needn't push for one by playing 'alpha male' with a 300 pound black bear.

Of course, we all worry about our own defense. My best defense, if it ever came to needing to protect myself from an aggressive bear . . . is my hiking staff . . . a good, solid piece of wood with a wicked point on the end. I also carry a hunting knife and bear deterrent spray . . . but those items are a last ditch measure. I'd much rather give up the terrain to the bear and back away slowly.

So the rest of this article is for those of you who wonder what the signs of bears in the area are. It's interesting and you can find the signs.

Where to Look for Bear Sign

Black bear habitat can include swamps, mountain streams, and woods (especially pinyon-juniper woodland, aspen forests, and oak woodlands).

Look for bear sign along mountain streams and in woodlands habitat.

Bear Tracks

Bears are pacers — wide-bodied animals that move both legs on one side of the body at a time (alternating both right limbs then both left). They are plantigrade walkers (like people) — the heel of the back foot lands flat on each step. The track of a bear's back foot looks very similar to a human footprint, although a bear's foot is wider and shorter. Bears have five toes on both the front and rear feet. The "big" toe on a bear is the outer toe. Note: the heel pad of the front foot, the claws, and the fifth (inside) toe often don't register in a track.

Black Bear front footprint; 4-1/2 inches (length) x
4 inches (width)
Posted by Hello

Black Bear rear footprint; 6-7/8 inches (length) x
3-1/2 inches (width)
Posted by Hello

Bear tracks in the spring snow at Tonga Ridge. Note the pacer stride . . . both legs on the side moving at the same time

The distance between the outer edges of black bear footprints (called trail width) is 14 inches. A black bear's stride (measured from the tip of the foremost toe of one foot to the tip of the same toe of the other foot) is 18 inches when walking and 2-5 feet when it is running. During a slow walk, the bear's hind foot overlaps the front foot; during a fast walk, the hind foot oversteps (lands in front of) the front foot.

Black bears often follow well-established trails. Wide double ruts formed in the grass or the ground are a good indication of a bear trail. In wooded areas, these trails often go under obstructions.

Bears (like people) break twigs and sticks as they walk; watch the trail for broken sticks, then use a magnifier to find closely spaced cracks or bending along twigs, indicating the round, soft footprints made by a bear.

Bear Scat (droppings)

Black bear scat (when firm) is tubular, between 1-3/8 inches and 1-1/2 inches in diameter. (Grizzly bear scat measures 2-1/4 inches.) Because black bears are mostly vegetarian (eating grass, roots, pine nuts, berries, buds, leaves, bark and nuts), bear scat often contains plant matter. Also look for the remains of other common black bear food: insects, eggs, birds, mice, rats, chipmunks, ground squirrels, fish, honeycomb, and carrion. Of course, black bears are known for eating just about anything they can find in a garbage can, so even the unusual item may be found in bear scat. Black bear scat has been known to contain tin cans, pizza boxes, watches, tent screening, zippers, motorcycle chains and even crushed hubcaps!

Bear scat: between 1-3/8 inches and 1-1/2 inches in diameter Posted by Hello

Feeding Signs

Watch for rocks and logs that have been turned over or torn apart in a bear's search for ants and beetles. Anthills that have been scooped out are another sign of a bear's presence in an area. Black bears also dig for small animals and plant roots.

Bear Trees

Besides climbing, black bears often use trees as territory markers and rubbing posts, as well as a food source. Known as "bear trees," these are often found in a prominent spot along a trail.

Watch for claw marks in the soft, smooth bark of climbing trees, and for tooth marks where black bears have used their incisors to scrape the cambium layer of feeding trees. Black bears will often bite and pull off strips of bark on particularly tasty trees like pine, spruce and fir. High claw and tooth marks serve as signposts, advertising the size of a bear and indicating a challenge to rivals.

Bears love a good scratch as much as the next guy, and will rub against trees, bushes, and stumps to satisfy that itch. An established bear tree reveals years of rubs, scratches and bites, and may have long hairs embedded in the cracks.

Other Black Bear Sign

Black bear dens can be found in hollow logs, under fallen trees, or in natural rock caves. Use your nose! Black bears are reported to have a powerful "animal" smell which can linger long after the animal has left the area.


A Field Guide to Animal Tracks — Olaus J. Murie

The Field Guide to Wildlife Habitats of the Western US — Janine M. Benyus

Tom Brown's Field Guide to Nature Observation and Tracking — Tom Brown, Jr. with Brandt Morgan

Track Finder — Dorcas Miller

Pacific Coast Mammals — Ron Russo and Pam Olhausen

Friday, May 27, 2005

Photo: Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Emblem. To date, I've backpacked about 160 miles of the PCT, a large part of it nude Posted by Hello

Tunnel Creek to Lake Hope and PCT

Photo: Tunnel Creek Trailhead Posted by Hello

I really like this pose . . . I'm almost narcissistic about it. So therefore it bugs me a little bit to have to trim and censor these pictures to post them in this blog. Not that I worry too much about being seen nude and in explicit detail . . . there are plenty of pictures of me in my photo album that show all of me. The decision to not show my genitals is to shy away from militant nudism and present my nudity implicitly rather than explicitly. You have to admit that the picture above leaves no doubt that I am naked as the day I was born (except for my beloved silly hat), yet I am not showing my genitals at all. I think that says more than an explicit image ever could. Still, sometimes I wish people would just 'chill out' and enjoy the naked human body for the work of creation it is. Anyway, stepping down off my soapbox.

Wednesday I hiked the Tunnel Creek trail. I'd always had this one in mind for a nude hike but never seemed to have found the time for it. Though rated difficult, it is a short 1 1/2 mile hike (all uphill) and is extremely popular, especially because of the twin Hope Lakes located at the top where the trail intersects the Pacific Crest Trail as the PCT winds down from Cowboy Mountain at Steven Pass on southward to Snoqualmie Pass. Because of this popularity, the trail sees lots of family hikers . . . so I held back on that trail. Wednesday, I decided to check the trailhead again.

No vehicles at the trailhead and there are probably no hikers on the trail already and you can hike in naked and relaxed instead of keeping a pair of shorts at the ready should you encounter a family group on the trail. We were lucky. A weekday and getting a later start than normal (1pm), we had the trail to ourselves and the weather was glorious. I hike with a friend of mine . . . she's just as passionate about nude hiking as I am and more importantly, hikes at about the same slow speed as I hike . . . since I love to dawdle and explore little side trails and such. I've long since given up trying to make the two miles per hours the guidebooks suggest. You miss too much huffing and puffing yourself to death. My rate on a moderate to steep slope is more like one mile per hour, so these shorter hikes are special events. More time to loll about at the end or along the way and just enjoy being nude.

I mention my friend. Platonic. But absolutely the best companionship on the trail. She is just so easy to be with.

Tunnel Creek starts out steep and stays steep; the first part heading up under the canopy into a series of switchbacks to gain altitude. Some of the best views are as you come out of the canopy and get to see the snow covered mountains ahead of you near the goal.

The snows in the background was our destination for this hike. Posted by Hello

Then the trail heads in southward, climbing moderately now, alternating between canopy and open, sun-drenched outcroppings of talus. The trail generally follows Tunnel Creek up, though staying way above the creek, itself. That leads to some spectacular viewpoints along the way . . . my favorite, a large mass of exposed shale hanging precipitously over the creek about half way in.

The trail is in reasonably good shape after a wet winter. There is one fallen tree across the trail . . . easily gotten over. There are a lot of wet areas and bogs (especially lower down near the beginning). The puncheon bridges are sound with a few broken planks and a general kilter to them that is fun to walk across. The wet areas of the trails are to more recent snow melt and runoff . . . the water seeking the lowest point . . . the trail. Interesting to read the footprints in the mud and moist dirt. Tracks going in . . . and tracks going out. You can tell a lot about the hiker and the company kept; in this case a male, rather affluent because the treads were from expensive hiking boots. And a dog accompanying him. I also noted the bear tracks on the trail following them in for a short distance . . . which make me reach for the reassurance of the bear spray at my hip.

You cross a couple of alpine creeks further up and have to step carefully to avoid slipping and getting your shoes soaked. That makes for miserable hiking; even though I carry extra socks in my backpack and would need them later on.

As you gain altitude the canopy changes too . . . evergreen seedpod cones crunching underfoot as the Western Hemlocks give way to fir trees and the cones become larger. The canopy thins as well letting in more of the afternoon sunlight. Through it all, the roar of Tunnel Creek at a distance below you keeps you company. We can smell the change in the air . . . lighter . . . cooler, with a hint of sharpness as we near the ridge. Patches of snow have been teasing us for the last quarter mile. Now there is a little crunchy snow sluicing the trails in places.

The lake comes upon you all of a sudden as you top the ridge into a wide, flat area. At first, your not sure it's the lake. It's still frozen and covered with snow like everything else up here. But as you catch your breath and bearings, you see the open water of the first of the two shallow alpines lakes and it's time for some pictures (as if there is never a time for pictures).

Anyone for a polar nude dip in this lake? Posted by Hello

This is were the PCT connects, cutting a trail from the northeast to a southwesterly direction toward the nearby Surprise Lake a ridgeline over. There is still a lot of snow up here. The PCT is difficult to make out unless you already know where it goes. We head up around the lower lake across a field of crusty and still clean snow to view the other lake. Then it's lunch time and an hour or so of enjoying the snow-bowl. We're naked, in the snow, and it feels wonderfully. No cold at all. And there isn't a better way to get some sun than to stand out in the middle of a field of glaring white snow in full afternoon sunlight!

Eventually, you have to head back and this is where my misfortune happened. We'd crossed a creek earlier . . . probing and trusting the thick snow pack to hold. This time it didn't and my weight broke through, plunging me into a ice-cold frigid creek flowing underneath the snow all the way up to my shoulders.

I wasn't hurt (except the shock and my pride). The snow kinda cushioned the slow drop. But wet I was . . . shoes and socks submerged as was most of me up to my shoulders before I could right myself, stand up and climb my way out of the hole I'd made. And I made a discovery. Being nude saved my ass. If I'd been wearing clothes they would have been drenched and sucking the heat straight out of my body. As it was . . . the water rolled off my naked skin and the sun was quickly soothing those goosebumps down. Guess I'm kinda ready for next years New Year's Arctic Plunge now.

We headed back down after making sure I didn't break anything and that my pack was really water resistant. It was as I found a warm and dry log to sit on and switch out my sopping wet socks for dry ones. Then off we went, the hiking bringing my internal furnace online again.

We dawdled all the way down. Jeez, you know it's going to end and you just don't want to have to put on clothes again. We've had everything . . . wind, bright sunlight, snow and everything in between (I even went ice bathing).

The trailhead was as we left it earlier . . . just our cars. Reluctantly we got dressed and headed back to the highway. Tunnel Creek is a great weekday nude hike, and except for the switchbacks, sight distance is adequate for advance warning of approaching hikers. The lakes at the top provide lots of areas for frolicking around au'natural, and I would imagine the lakes, being shallow, would made for good skinny-dipping later in the summer.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Legal: The Cahill Memo (California State Parks)

While not legally applicable to the Pacific Northwest, the Cahill Memo designates a hands-off approach to dealing with clothing-optional areas within the State of California. Many jurisdictions outside of California use the Cahill Memorandum as a basis on their approach to simple nudity on public lands. I thought it would be interesting reading.

In essence:
  • Certain areas are, or have been traditionally used for clothing optional activities
  • If a private citizen complains, you can be asked to cover up for the remainder of the day
  • If you do not cover up, you can be cited or arrested
  • A new day requires a fresh complaint by a private citizen before you can be asked to cover up again
  • A law enforcement officer, while on duty, is not a 'private citizen' and cannot make a complaint on his or her own volition

These three documents explain California State Parks "Cahill Policy."
  • The original May 31, 1979 letter from State Parks director Russell Cahill, setting forth the policy.
  • The one-page June 1988 letter from Jack Harrison (deputy director for operations of the California State Parks dept) to Cec Cinder of the then Western Sunbathing Association, Inc. (now AANR West), in reply to an inquiry Cec had written about the impact of the California vs. Bost ruling on the state parks.
  • The 13-page opinion of the appeals court in the California vs. Bost case itself.

The Cahill Memo

State of California
M e m o r a n d u m
Date:MAY 3 1 1979

All Division/Office Chiefs
All District Superintendents
All Area Managers

From:Department of Parks and Recreation

Clothing Optional Beaches

No clothing optional beaches will be designated within the California State Park System at this time. During the public meeting process, it became clear to me that the public is extremely polarized on this issue. It also became clear that there is a serious concern on the part of clothing
optional beach opponents about the extra costs of patrolling beaches so designated.

Proponents' arguments that a few miles of beach be set aside for their use were pervasive. However, serious opposition from legislators, county supervisors and local governing bodies lead me to believe that designating such areas will focus opponents' attention upon what seems to be a victimless crime at worst, and certainly an innocuous action.

The cost of extra services argument is a good one. Therefore, it shall be the policy of the Department that enforcement of nude sunbathing regulations within the State Park System shall be made only upon the complaint of a private citizen. Citations or arrests shall be made only after attempts are made to elicit voluntary compliance with the regulations. This policy
should free up enforcement people to concentrate on other pressing duties.

Russell W. Cahill

Russell W. Cahill

The Harrison letter to the Western Sunbathing Association

P.O. BOX 942896
SACRAMENTO 94296-0001

(916) 445-2358

JUN 14, 1988

Cec Cinder
Western Sunbathing Association Inc.
P.O. Box 328
Moreno Valley, CA 92337

Dear Cec Cinder:

In People vs. Eric John Bost, Placer County Superior (Appellate) No. 75689, the court held that the public receives fair notice that clothing-optional activities like "skinny dipping" are permitted only at recognized locations within the state parks, unless a request for cessation of such activities is made by an enforcement officer upon public complaint. Upon such warning, the activity must stop for the day. By prohibiting the activity for the balance of the day, it is likely that the skinny dipper and complaining party will not encounter one another again thus serving the purpose of the "Cahill policy" in a rational, easily understandable way.

This construction also fairly advises law enforcement and prosecutors of how the law is to be enforced. So long as the activity takes place in a traditionally recognized area it is legal unless and until a complaint from a member of the public is received. Upon such complaint a warning is to be issued and, if not heeded, a violation (of Title 14, California Code of Regulations Section 4322) has occurred. Further activities of a person so warned are prohibited for the balance of the day, but activities on later days are proscribed only if preceded by a new public complaint and renewed warning.

This Department concurs in the holding of the court and will not seek appellate review of this court's judgment.

A copy of the opinion is enclosed for your use.

Jack V. Harrison
Deputy Director for Operations



cc: All Regional Directors
Mr. Bruce Kranz, District Superintendent
Folsom Lake District

People vs. Eric John Bost, Placer County Superior (Appellate) No. 75689

FILED FEB 22 1988


CALIFORNIA, ) (Muni.Ct.No.CRl-2947)
Plaintiff & Respondent, )
vs. )
Defendant & Appellant. )

Eric John Bost (Bost) appeals his conviction after court trial of violating Section 4322 of Title 14 of the California Administrative Code ("Section 4322"), prohibiting nudity within the state parks. Bost contends that his conviction must be reversed because Section 4322 unconstitutionally infringes his right to "skinny dip"; because the policies adopted by the state parks with respect to enforcement of the statute as applied in Bost's case render its enforcement arbitrary and discriminatory; and because Bost's conduct was not prohibited by the statute and administrative policies concerning its enforcement. We conclude that long-standing and well-publicized policies concerning nudity in the State Park

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System define and limit conduct prohibited by Section 4322 and that Bost's activities were not in violation of that section. Accordingly, we shall reverse. Section 4322 of Title 14 of the California Administrative Code provides:

"No person shall appear nude while in any unit of the State Park System except in authorized areas set aside for that purpose. The word nude as used herein means unclothed or in such a state of undress as to expose any part or portion of the pubic or anal region or genitalia or any portion of the breast at or below the areola thereof of any female."

Violation of that administrative regulation of the state park system is made punishable as a misdemeanor by Section 5008 of the California Public Resources Code. After public hearings conducted by the State Park System on the question of whether and what areas of the state parks should be set aside as "clothing optional" areas of the state parks, the then Director of the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Russell W. Cahill, adopted a policy that, "No clothing optional beaches will be designated within the California State Park System at this time. During the public meeting process, it became clear to me that the public is extremely polarized on this issue. It also became clear that there is a serious concern on the part of clothing optional beach opponents about the extra costs of patrolling beaches so designated. [P] Proponents' arguments that a few miles of beach be set aside for their use were pervasive (sic). However, serious opposition from legislators, county supervisors and local governing bodies leads me to believe that designating such

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areas will focus opponents' attention upon what seems to be a victimless crime at worst, and certainly an innocuous action. [P] The cost of extra services argument is a good one. Therefore, it shall be the policy of the Department that enforcement of nude sunbathing regulations within the State Park System shall be made only upon the complaint of a private citizen. Citations or arrests shall be made only after attempts are made to elicit voluntary compliance with the regulations. This policy should free up enforcement people to concentrate on other pressing duties."[1] The "Cahill Policy" has remained the enforcement policy of the State Park System throughout the State of California. The policy has been widely disseminated and is well known within the public, and particularly among those who enjoy nude sunbathing at the state parks. In addition, while the Department has declined to designate specific areas as clothing optional as permitted by the provisions of Section 4322, a number of locations within various state parks have, by custom and practice, become known and accepted as areas where clothing optional activities are tolerated. Indeed, evidence introduced at the trial suggests that the Department has, if not overtly encouraged, at least knowingly failed to discourage in any way individual and organized nude activities at various locations within the State Park System over the years.

1 The evidence concerning the adoption of policies their dissemination and public awareness of the policy were not controverted at the trial. So too, the essential facts surrounding Mr. Bost's arrest were not in substantial dispute.

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The Bear (sic)[2] Cove area has become well known as a location within Folsom State Park where clothing optional activities can take place with the knowledge and without complaint from enforcement authorities except as specified by the Cahill policy. For example, approximately one month before Eric Bost was arrested at Bear Cove, the Department of Parks and Recreation acquiesced in the holding of organized "National Nude Weekend" activities at Bear Cove. The availability of clothing optional facilities in various areas of the state park, including the Bear Cove area, has been featured in a number of widely available private publications. In addition, though the Department of Parks and Recreation has not officially designated any "clothing optional" areas within the State Park System, an official publication of a sister state agency lists areas within several state parks as being available for clothing optional activities. The "California Coastal Access Guide" published by the California Coastal Commission of the State of California, lists four "clothing optional" locations in four separate state parks, though not including Bear Cove. The listings do not include references to the prohibition of Section 4322 and, indeed, are put forth in inviting terms, describing the locations as, "sandy, clothing optional beach", "popular clothing optional beach", "popular sunbathing beach; clothing optional", and, simply, "clothing optional."

2. The record does not tell us if the choice of this area was
an intended pun.

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In addition to the testimony of Mr. Bost, who indicated his awareness of the general acceptance of nudity at the Bear Cove area of Folsom State Park and, in general, of the tolerance of clothing optional activities throughout the State Park System, the testimony of a number of other individuals active in individual and organized nude activities was introduced to establish that innocent nude sunbathing and swimming is at least tolerated, if not encouraged, in various areas of the state parks. Bear Cove, part of the popular Granite Bay recreation portion of Folsom, is a rather secluded area of beach located in a cove which, while accessible from the water, is not easily visible to those passing by on the water or by land. Because of this seclusion, it has become a popular location for nude sunbathing and swimming. Because of this seclusion, these innocent activities of nude sunbathers and swimmers has attracted little private or public attention or criticism. On Saturday, August 10, 1985, Mr. Bost was on the Bear Cove beach dressed only in a pair of scuba diving boots. A park ranger entered Bear Cove in a boat, spoke with a number of nude recreators and ultimately approached Bost. The ranger stated that there had been complaints concerning the Bear Cove activities that day and directed Bost, as he had others, to dress or that a citation would be issued. In fact there had been a single complaint by a passing fisherman. Appellant complied, dressed and left the area.

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Bost returned to Bear Cove on August 11 and was again swimming, nude at the Bear Cove area.[3] The same ranger again approached the area and Bost. The ranger advised Bost that he had been warned yesterday and then, without further warning, cited him for violation of Section 4322 and asked him to dress. No complaint had been received of the activities of appellant or of any others at the Bear Cove area on that Sunday. A number of other nude sunbathers present on Sunday were warned and told to dress. Evidence was also introduced of one individual who received a citation on Sunday who had not received a previous warning either on Sunday or on the previous Saturday. Bost's citation led to trial before the municipal court and the conviction from which he appeals. We deal first with Bost's contention that Section 4322 violates his constitutionally protected right to nude sunbathing. Bost refers us to Williams v. Kleppe (1976) 539 Fed.2d 803. There, a Federal Circuit Court upheld a national park regulation prohibiting nude activities on the Cape Cod Seashore National Park. In upholding the regulation, however, the court recognized some constitutionally cognizable interest in nude bathing where such activities had been historically conducted in secluded areas where the conduct was unlikely to be offensive to passers-by. (Williams v. Kleppe, supra, 539 Fed.2d at 807, citing Williams v. Hathaway (1975) 400 Fed.Supp.122, 127.) Appellant does not contend, nor could he based upon any authority we have found, that the right to engage in nude

3. Perhaps establishing a use of the phrase "double dipping"
outside of the area of public retirement.

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activities in the state parks or elsewhere is a fundamentally protected right. While we do not mean to equate nude sunbathing with activities such as seductive nude dancing or other purposeful public displays of nudity involving sexuality, the cases upholding regulation of the latter activities recognize that there are legitimate state interests in prohibiting nudity which might be offensive to others in public places. (Crownover v. Musick (1973) 9 Cal.3d 405; 107 Cal.Rptr. 681; Eckl v. Davis (1975) 51 Cal.App.3d 831, 124 Cal.Rptr. 685). We conclude that the potential that simple nude sunbathing or swimming activities may be offensive to the sensibilities of other state park users is sufficient to warrant the prohibition of such activities within the State Park System. Section 4322 is a valid and constitutional exercise of the police power of the state. We will address Appellant's contentions concerning the interpretation of Section 4322 and the policies concerning its enforcement together, as their resolution raises common issues. We note, first, that Appellant has made no contention, nor is there any evidence, that his prosecution was grounded on enforcement policies that singled him out for prosecution based on some constitutionally prohibited basis. Absent such evidence, the fact that certain persons, including Appellant, are cited for violation of Section 4322 while others are not, is not grounds for reversal of his conviction. (See, for example, Murgia v. Municipal Court (1975) 15 Cal.3d 286, 124 Cal.Rptr. 204, Oyler v. Boles (1962) 368 U.S. 448, 456, 7 L.Ed.2d. 446, 453.) Appellant's contentions concerning "arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement" are more appropriately seen as a

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challenge to the section as being rendered unconstitutionally vague due to the application of the enforcement policy of the Department of Parks and Recreation as typified in this case. The contention has substantial merit. It is a fundamental component of due process, protected both under Article 1, Section 7, of the California Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, that there must be a certain level of definiteness in criminal statutes. (Burg v. Municipal Court (1983) 35 Cal.3d 257, 198 Cal.Rptr. 145.) "Today it is established that due process requires a statute to be definite enough to provide (1) a standard of conduct for those whose activities are proscribed and (2) a standard for police enforcement and for ascertainment of guilt." (ibid.) In order to meet the first test of definiteness, a statute must give fair notice of what conduct it seeks to prohibit. "A statute which either forbids or requires the doing of an act in terms so vague that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application violates the first essential of due process of law." (Connelly v. General Construction Company (1926) 269 U.S. 385, 391; 46 S.Ct. 126, 127; 70 L.Ed. 322. It is evident that the prohibitory language of Section 4322 itself gives at least reasonably fair notice of the total prohibition of nudity in the state parks, except in authorized areas. Passing for the moment, the question of "authorized areas", we note that the statute, without more, is sufficiently clear and precise to warn people of common intelligence of the conduct it prohibits. To

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end the analysis of the problem here, as respondent suggests, however, would impermissably ignore the uncontroverted evidence of the long-standing tolerance and encouragement of nude activities in certain areas of various state parks. The due process requirement of precision is intended to provide ordinary individuals with knowledge of what it is the state seeks to prohibit them from doing. "The notice provided must be such that prosecution does not 'trap the innocent' without 'fair warning' (Grayned v. City of Rockford (1972) 408 U.S. 104, 108, 92 S.Ct. 2294, 2299, 33 L.Ed.2d 222.)" (Burg v. Municipal Court, supra, 35 Cal.3d at 271; 198 Cal.Rptr. at 153.) While the usual problem is the vagueness of statutory language, we conclude that where long-standing and well publicized official policies of the state expressly permit or encourage activities which are technically unlawful, prosecution based upon such conduct offends basic notions of due process. Courts routinely refer to external indicia of precision, including announced administrative policy, to interpret otherwise vague statutes with the precision necessary to avoid their unconstitutionality. (See, for example, Pennisi v. State Fish and Game (1979) 97 Cal.App.3d 268; 158 Cal.Rptr. 683; Burg v. Municipal Court, supra, 35 Cal.3d 257, 272; 198 Cal.Rptr. 145, 154; County of Nevada v. McMillan (1974) 11 Cal.3d 662, 673; 114 Cal.Rptr.345.) In Pennisi, for example, the court considered evidence of well publicized policies of the Fish and Game department concerning methods of measuring fish net mesh to determine their legality to clarify the language of a purportedly vague statute

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providing for civil and criminal penalties. In Burg, the Supreme Court looked to external evidence acquainting the public with the effects of drinking on determined blood alcohol levels in holding that the provisions of subsection (b) of Vehicle Code section 23152, prohibiting driving with a blood alcohol level of .10% by volume, provided fair notice of the conduct prohibited. Among the external indicia of notice relied on by the court was the common Department of Motor Vehicles driver information pamphlet. These cases demonstrate that apparently vague statutory language can be given meaning so as to provide fair notice by reference to external indicia of meaning, including broadly disseminated enforcement policies. We believe that similar external indicia, when in the form of well publicized and widely known policy statements and practices, can create sufficient confusion in the mind of a reasonable person as to what conduct is actually prohibited by the state so as to render enforcement of an otherwise clear Penal statute violative of due process in particular circumstances. Before declaring a statute unconstitutional, however, we are obligated to ascertain if it is subject to definition consistent with legislative intent that avoids its unconstitutionality. (Pryor v. Municipal Court (1979) 29 Cal.3d 238; 158 Cal.Rptr. 330; People v. Soto (1985) 171 Cal.App.3d 1158; 217 Cal.Rptr. 795.) As we have just noted, such interpretation may make reference to external indicia. Moreover, the construction of a statute by the agency charged

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with its enforcement is entitled to great weight. (California Welfare Rights Organization v. Bryan (1974) 11 Cal.3d 237, 113 Cal.Rptr. 154; Pennisi v. State Fish and Game Department, supra, 97 Cal.App.3d 272, 284, 158 Cal.Rptr. 683, 687.) We believe that the statutory language and policies can be harmonized to arrive at a statutory construction consistent with legislative intent and due process notice requirements. Applying these rules to the statute in question we reach several conclusions. First, we conclude that, though the 1979 Cahill policy eschews an intention on the part of the Department to designate clothing optional beaches, the subsequent enforcement practices and policies of the Department have resulted in the designation of certain areas as "clothing optional", Bear Cove is such an area. Secondly, we conclude that the department has availed itself of the discretion granted it by the legislature to make the clothing optional use of these beaches conditioned upon the absence of citizen complaint to law enforcement officers. We also conclude that a reasonable construction of this policy which is consistent with legislative intent and the policies and practices established at the trial is that a warning to discontinue nude activities cannot be construed to be a ban "forever" of the future pursuit of nude activities at the state park. We find that the policy contemplates that an individual may return to the same location on a subsequent day after a complete cessation of nude activities on request of an enforcement officer. This construction meets the two elements of due process notice required by Burg and similar cases. By reading

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the long-applied policy as a conditional designation of clothing optional beaches, the public receives fair notice that clothing optional activities like "skinny dipping" are permitted only at recognized locations within the state parks, unless a request for cessation of such activities is made by an enforcement officer upon public complaint. Upon such warning, the activity must stop for the day. By prohibiting the activity for the balance of the day, it is likely that the skinny dipper and complaining party will not encounter one another again, thus serving the purpose of the "Cahill policy" in a rational, easily understandable way. This construction also fairly advises law enforcement and prosecutors of how the law is to be enforced. So long as the activity takes place in a traditionally recognized area, it is legal unless and until a complaint from a member of the public is received. Upon such complaint, a warning is to be issued and, if not heeded, a violation has occurred. Further activities of a person so warned are prohibited for the balance of the day, but activities on later days are proscribed only if preceded by a new public complaint and renewed warning.

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For these reasons, we conclude that the conduct which Appellant engaged in on Sunday, August 11, 1985, was not in violation of Section 4322 and that, accordingly, his conviction must be reversed.

Dated: February 22, 1988


I concur: [4]

4. By stipulation of the parties at oral argument, this matter
was submitted to a two judge panel of the court.

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Saturday, May 21, 2005

Scientists Say Sunshine May Prevent Cancer

Note: The original link to this article has disappeared. Rick


Scientists are excited about a vitamin again. But unlike fads that sizzled and fizzled, the evidence this time is strong and keeps growing. If it bears out, it will challenge one of medicine's most fundamental beliefs: that people need to coat themselves with sunscreen whenever they're in the sun. Doing that may actually contribute to far more cancer deaths than it prevents, some researchers think.

The vitamin is D, nicknamed the "sunshine vitamin" because the skin makes it from ultraviolet rays. Sunscreen blocks its production, but dermatologists and health agencies have long preached that such lotions are needed to prevent skin cancer. Now some scientists are questioning that advice. The reason is that vitamin D increasingly seems important for preventing and even treating many types of cancer.

In the last three months alone, four separate studies found it helped protect against lymphoma and cancers of the prostate, lung and, ironically, the skin. The strongest evidence is for colon cancer.

Many people aren't getting enough vitamin D. It's hard to do from food and fortified milk alone, and supplements are problematic.

So the thinking is this: Even if too much sun leads to skin cancer, which is rarely deadly, too little sun may be worse.

No one is suggesting that people fry on a beach. But many scientists believe that "safe sun" — 15 minutes or so a few times a week without sunscreen — is not only possible but helpful to health.

One is Dr. Edward Giovannucci, a Harvard University professor of medicine and nutrition who laid out his case in a keynote lecture at a recent American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Anaheim, Calif.

His research suggests that vitamin D might help prevent 30 deaths for each one caused by skin cancer.

"I would challenge anyone to find an area or nutrient or any factor that has such consistent anti-cancer benefits as vitamin D," Giovannucci told the cancer scientists. "The data are really quite remarkable."

The talk so impressed the American Cancer Society's chief epidemiologist, Dr. Michael Thun, that the society is reviewing its sun protection guidelines. "There is now intriguing evidence that vitamin D may have a role in the prevention as well as treatment of certain cancers," Thun said.

Even some dermatologists may be coming around. "I find the evidence to be mounting and increasingly compelling," said Dr. Allan Halpern, dermatology chief at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, who advises several cancer groups.

The dilemma, he said, is a lack of consensus on how much vitamin D is needed or the best way to get it.

No source is ideal. Even if sunshine were to be recommended, the amount needed would depend on the season, time of day, where a person lives, skin color and other factors. Thun and others worry that folks might overdo it.

"People tend to go overboard with even a hint of encouragement to get more sun exposure," Thun said, adding that he'd prefer people get more of the nutrient from food or pills.

But this is difficult. Vitamin D occurs naturally in salmon, tuna and other oily fish, and is routinely added to milk. However, diet accounts for very little of the vitamin D circulating in blood, Giovannucci said.

Supplements contain the nutrient, but most use an old form — D-2 — that is far less potent than the more desirable D-3. Multivitamins typically contain only small amounts of D-2 and include vitamin A, which offsets many of D's benefits.

As a result, pills might not raise vitamin D levels much at all.

Government advisers can't even agree on an RDA, or recommended daily allowance for vitamin D. Instead, they say "adequate intake" is 200 international units a day up to age 50, 400 IUs for ages 50 to 70, and 600 IUs for people over 70.

Many scientists think adults need 1,000 IUs a day. Giovannucci's research suggests 1,500 IUs might be needed to significantly curb cancer.

How vitamin D may do this is still under study, but there are lots of reasons to think it can:

_Several studies observing large groups of people found that those with higher vitamin D levels also had lower rates of cancer. For some of these studies, doctors had blood samples to measure vitamin D, making the findings particularly strong. Even so, these studies aren't the gold standard of medical research — a comparison over many years of a large group of people who were given the vitamin with a large group who didn't take it. In the past, the best research has deflated health claims involving other nutrients, including vitamin E and beta carotene.

_Lab and animal studies show that vitamin D stifles abnormal cell growth, helps cells die when they are supposed to, and curbs formation of blood vessels that feed tumors.

_Cancer is more common in the elderly, and the skin makes less vitamin D as people age.

_Blacks have higher rates of cancer than whites and more pigment in their skin, which prevents them from making much vitamin D.

_Vitamin D gets trapped in fat, so obese people have lower blood levels of D. They also have higher rates of cancer.

_Diabetics, too, are prone to cancer, and their damaged kidneys have trouble converting vitamin D into a form the body can use.

_People in the northeastern United States and northerly regions of the globe like Scandinavia have higher cancer rates than those who get more sunshine year-round.

During short winter days, the sun's rays come in at too oblique an angle to spur the skin to make vitamin D. That is why nutrition experts think vitamin D-3 supplements may be especially helpful during winter, and for dark-skinned people all the time.

But too much of the pill variety can cause a dangerous buildup of calcium in the body. The government says 2,000 IUs is the upper daily limit for anyone over a year old.

On the other hand, D from sunshine has no such limit. It's almost impossible to overdose when getting it this way. However, it is possible to get skin cancer. And this is where the dermatology establishment and Dr. Michael Holick part company.

Thirty years ago, Holick helped make the landmark discovery of how vitamin D works. Until last year, he was chief of endocrinology, nutrition and diabetes and a professor of dermatology at Boston University. Then he published a book, "The UV Advantage," urging people to get enough sunlight to make vitamin D.

"I am advocating common sense," not prolonged sunbathing or tanning salons, Holick said.

Skin cancer is rarely fatal, he notes. The most deadly form, melanoma, accounts for only 7,770 of the 570,280 cancer deaths expected to occur in the United States this year.

More than 1 million milder forms of skin cancer will occur, and these are the ones tied to chronic or prolonged suntanning.

Repeated sunburns — especially in childhood and among redheads and very fair-skinned people — have been linked to melanoma, but there is no credible scientific evidence that moderate sun exposure causes it, Holick contends.

"The problem has been that the American Academy of Dermatology has been unchallenged for 20 years," he says. "They have brainwashed the public at every level."

The head of Holick's department, Dr. Barbara Gilchrest, called his book an embarrassment and stripped him of his dermatology professorship, although he kept his other posts.

She also faulted his industry ties. Holick said the school has received $150,000 in grants from the Indoor Tanning Association for his research, far less than the consulting deals and grants that other scientists routinely take from drug companies.

In fact, industry has spent money attacking him. One such statement from the Sun Safety Alliance, funded in part by Coppertone and drug store chains, declared that "sunning to prevent vitamin D deficiency is like smoking to combat anxiety."

Earlier this month, the dermatology academy launched a "Don't Seek the Sun" campaign calling any advice to get sun "irresponsible." It quoted Dr. Vincent DeLeo, a Columbia University dermatologist, as saying: "Under no circumstances should anyone be misled into thinking that natural sunlight or tanning beds are better sources of vitamin D than foods or nutritional supplements."

That opinion is hardly unanimous, though, even among dermatologists.

"The statement that 'no sun exposure is good' I don't think is correct anymore," said Dr. Henry Lim, chairman of dermatology at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit and an academy vice president.

Some wonder if vitamin D may turn out to be like another vitamin, folate. High intake of it was once thought to be important mostly for pregnant women, to prevent birth defects. However, since food makers began adding extra folate to flour in 1998, heart disease, stroke, blood pressure, colon cancer and osteoporosis have all fallen, suggesting the general public may have been folate-deficient after all.

With vitamin D, "some people believe that it is a partial deficiency that increases the cancer risk," said Hector DeLuca, a University of Wisconsin-Madison biochemist who did landmark studies on the nutrient.

About a dozen major studies are under way to test vitamin D's ability to ward off cancer, said Dr. Peter Greenwald, chief of cancer prevention for the National Cancer Institute. Several others are testing its potential to treat the disease. Two recent studies reported encouraging signs in prostate and lung cancer.

As for sunshine, experts recommend moderation until more evidence is in hand.

"The skin can handle it, just like the liver can handle alcohol," said Dr. James Leyden, professor emeritus of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania, who has consulted for sunscreen makers.

"I like to have wine with dinner, but I don't think I should drink four bottles a day."

Nude Snow Hike on Tonga Ridge Friday Afternoon

Just before my totally nude hike up onto Tonga Ridge to the snow and freezing rain. Posted by Hello

Before I get into my nude snow hike I'd like to share something totally crazy that you may (or may not) have noticed in the picture above. Seeing as summer is approaching and the hair on my abdomen is not that noticeable but nonetheless is dark, I took a trimmer to the hairs with the intent of trimming them. Of course, I failed miserably and kept correcting until in the end I had no choice by to shave the area completely. I feel kind of naked there . . . a days worth of stubble but basically a naked stomach that draws attention to it. So forgive me . . . now all I can do is wait for it to grow back. Kind of funny that I walking around naked all the time and the only thing I can worry about is my denuded abdomen . . .

Anyway, if you remember correctly, I did promise the volunteer ranger (you remember, the cute one) a trail report on Tonga and so I headed out that way on Friday . . . interested in seeing just how big this boulder is that is sitting in the middle of the forest service road. BTW, it wasn't that big . . . about half the size of my car and easily driven around. Curiosity resolved I continued on up to the trailhead five mile further up thinking snow . . . is there any?

I also had an itching for a hike and Tonga has always been a favorite of mine 'cause I love to get out on the open ridge for the spectacular views. Friday was forecast for thunderstorms in the Cascades . . . which I knew, but what the heck. The hike isn't overly long.

Nude hiking in the rain is a penchant for me. I enjoy the feel of rain drops on my bare skin. It's also a foolhardy thing to do because the chance of hypothermia is very real when wet skin braves gusting winds. (see my article on hypothermia here) But I do it anyway.

I have a little trick that helps and I used it this time as I sat in the car removing all my clothes in preparation for my trek. Waterproof yourself! Suntan lotion (the waterproof type) is great for this. I apply it to every exposed part of my body and I fine it helps shed the cold rain instead of wetting me down and sapping heat.

It wasn't raining much yet . . . sprinkles and mist mainly . . . but the thunderheads were on the way. The ridge is about an hour hike in, dally fifteen minutes or so and then hike back . . . two hours exposed. I debated whether to wear a jacket or just carry one. But standing outside the car in the elements I felt the challenge. Screw it. No clothes at all . . . just my hat, my hiking stick and fanny pack. The rain suit got tossed back into the car and off I went . . . taking a real chance of freezing my buns off.

Hiking generates a lot of heat, so staying warm isn't a problem as long as I'm moving. I suspect snow up ahead . . . and I find it quickly, hiking though it and playing around in it. The snow is cold but it really doesn't seem to affect me once I brush it off. But it's fun and exciting to be able to say I've frolicked naked in the snow . . . in late May, no less.

Still a lot of snow up on Tonga Ridge. I make terrible snow angels Posted by Hello

Then on to the ridge. Under the canopy you are protected from the wind and most of the drizzle. The hat deflects most of the coalesced larger drops of rain and the worst I have to deal with is the squish squish of my shoes in the saturated trail. I don't care much for the canopy. It's confined . . . sort of claustrophobic. My real goal is the ridge which I reach in good time.

As soon as I step into the open slope the rain comes at my like a fine, heavy mist, occasionally swirling around my torso by the wind gust sliding up the slopes from the clouds down below. I won't dally here long. Already my fingers are feeling numb and another appendage feels nothing at all. I'm getting soaked in the fine mist that frequently turn to a heavy pelting and then drops back to the drizzle again. My legs and torso are fine and I don't feel the cold at all there. Just my wet fingertips. The fanny pack is soaked, as are my shoes. I should have worn the boots. Still, I'm here and I love it.

Light is going. Dark masses of grey fulminate into the valley from over the far ridges. A distant flash and crack of thunder . . . close. Time to get off this exposed ridge and head back. The temperature is dropping rapidly as that mass descends on my position. The rain takes up again . . . a steady shower now pushed by strong breeze. Is that snow? Yes, it is snowing along with the rain . . . sleet almost. I tarry a moment to challenge Mother Nature with outspread arms . . . and then turn to scurry into the cover and protection of the forest canopy once more.

The hike back is a dreary one for I'm feeling the cold now. I think warm . . . heat. Will blood into my fingertips to revitalize them. Behind me the thunder rumbles menacingly by I'm almost back to safety. I cross the snow zone under a driving downpour. The heat is drained from my body. The shivers start . . . a warning. Gratefully, I make it to the trailhead and fumble the keys out of the fanny pack. Before anything else, the engine and the heater . . . and then a towel to dry my goose-bumped skin.

Heater on full, rain pounding the roof, I suck in the heat for a full half hour or more before I feel warmed and in control. I love these kinds of hikes.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Meadow Creek Nude Hike - May 14th, 2005

Meadow Creek Trailhead Posted by Hello

I don't often nude hike on a weekend because of the popularity of the trails . . . I'd much rather have the trails to myself. But for some reason that morning I woke up and just felt like getting out there. I was still sore from the Deception Creek hike . . . takes time to get back into shape, LOL. The weather was forecast for rains this weekend but the day was looking nice. Dang, I needed a hike. And I needed a low use, relatively obscure trail. I chose Meadows Creek, one I hadn't hiked before. It's rated 'more difficult' and 'low' use. It's also not on the Highway 2 corridor so I decided to try it.

You get to the trailhead by hanging a left on the Beckler River Road #65, just east of Skykomish, continue on #65 for 7 miles to the junction with Rapid River Road #6530. Turn right and continue for 4.5 miles to trailhead. Out of the way which suits me fine. Trail Description here

I parked on the side of the road near the trailhead and stripped, signed in and then got my gear together. My knee was still bothering me so I wore a brace just for a little support.

This trail is 8 miles in and 8 out, the ultimate target the PCT at Cady Gap. I knew I would probably not make the Gap today . . . not enough hours of daylight for a round-trip. But I would try as far as I could. I set off on the trail.

You're immediately immersed under forest canopy as you climb the steep switchbacks for the first two miles. Along the way you can see the trail is little used. Ferns and blackberries vie to take over the trail and I had a fun time stepping on emerging ferns to slow them down. In places the fern growth was impressive and I enjoyed the sensation of wet-coolness of greenery brushing my legs as I toiled on upwards.

There are lots of areas of loose skree making footing treacherous. A hiking stick is a must. Near the top of the switchbacks is a massive outcropping of weathered granite jutting out from the side of the hill. The sun, by this time, was high in the sky and warm and I thought to myself 'what a marvelous sunning rock that outcropping would make' . . . and I plan to spend a day just sunning there sometime this summer.

Past the switchbacks you start the long, gradual traverse north above the Meadow Creek Valley, first passing an open area with hundreds of huge, fire-scotched dead trees standing in memorial to a devastating forest fire in the sixties. This area is gentle and sunny . . . would make a great camping location.

Further in, the forest is lush and uncrowded. I begin to see the tracks of pack animals . . . burros, alpacas and llamas from some time ago. I also see deer tracks using the trails . . . and their spoor. A little later on I see the spoor of some carnivore, probably a cougar. I'm getting pretty high up . . . cougar country. The stout hiking staff feels comforting in my hand but I still check to see that my hunting knife is positioned correctly. Soon I pass into the Henry Jackson Wilderness area. The trail is good and easy now. Every once in awhile I take advantage of an open area of talus to break and just enjoy the afternoon sun on my naked skin. I had seen no one and don't expect I will. Totally relaxing.

I've set a point of no return and I reach it shortly after crossing Meadows Creek for the first time and realizing that I am nowhere near reaching the Cady Gap. I turn around now in order to make it off the trail a reasonable amount of time before nightfall. Naked skin is a feast for mosquitoes near twilight . . . and I'm sure them cougars and bears are just getting hungry for a naked, pale-skinned hiker for dinner. I'm not a fool.

I thought about shorting up on the return trip in case their were inbound backpackers headed for an overnight. But just kept delaying the move to find my shorts in the backpack. The return was a leisurely hike, taken slow to really soak in the natural beauty of the place. I arrived back at my car with plenty of time before nightfall . . . still naked and enjoying every last minute of nudity before I pulled a pair of shorts on and headed back home.

This is a great hike for a naturist. A bit lonely, but sometimes that's what we want. There are great sunning opportunities and more than a few potential camping locations. The trees (mainly western hemlock) are widely spaced and open, taking away the claustrophobia I sometimes feel in more dense forest areas. And once pass the initial set of switchbacks, the trail stay gradual and easy. The only negative I can see are those droppings of a cougar on the trail . . . get's you to sporting a set of eyes in the back of your head. The next time I will start very early with the goal of reaching the Gap and the two alpine lakes up there. That will probably be an overnighter.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Deception Creek Nude Hike - May 12th, 2005

Another one of those last minute decisions. A beautiful day and appointments all done. Just turned the car to the mountains without any real idea of what I planned to do . . . well one. I needed a new Forest Service Pass so I figured to drop by the Ranger Station just east of Skykomish and pick one up.

If your anything like me . . . do a lot of hiking . . . the Golden Eagle Pass is a great deal at $65 for a year. Covers all National Forests and National Parks. But I also visit Rooster Rock in Oregon quite often and that state park charges a user fee. Enter the new Northwest Forest and Parks Pass. At $85 it covers everything the Golden Eagle does plus all of Oregons State Parks and most of the Washington ones that charge a user fee. For me, it's a great deal and I suggest you look into it at

Anyway, got to talking with the cute volunteer manning the desk at the Ranger Station about trail conditions. Their reports were more than two weeks old. I told her I'd send a trail report though I was sure I'd been going today as it was getting late (2pm is late to start a long hike). She suggested Deception . . . no one there. A slight twinkle in her eyes? Did she suspect what I really wanted was the trail to myself to hike nude? Yeah, well I think too much sometimes . . .

Deception it was. Only a few miles up the road and I did owe her a trail report. Everything I needed was in the car and I figured I had four to five hours . . . enough time to make it in a couple of miles to the second log bridge and then back again before darkness.

Deception Creek Trail Head Posted by Hello

The trailhead was empty. A good sign because nobody would be heading in this late and more importantly . . . there was in all likelihood, no one on the trail inbound or heading back that I might inadvertently run into. I stripped right there, got my gear in order and headed into the canopy paralleling the creek upstream.

From the trailhead to the first log bridge is very scenic as it follows the raging creek. Lots of opportunities for pictures. This area is also the easiest of the hike and if anyone was in there, this would be the area where I would run into them. However, it felt so good to be naked that I just walked on confidently.

Some more dallying at the bridge . . . pictures and hanging about before the decision to tackle the hard part of this hike. From here it is uphill through a series of meandering switchbacks through the forest canopy. Rough work that few bother to tackle. The creek is way behind me . . . and that's what most people come up here to see. Now it just hiking. But I am alone . . . and I am naked, and I feel free.

There had been some minor blowdown and fallen trees across the trail below. Easily bypassed. By the time I reached the crest before the second bridge I came across one humongous tree . . . fully four feet in diameter. It fully blocked the trail with steep, slippery slope on both sides. Impassable, I would say, but I managed to very carefully work my way over it. Half an hour later I was at the second log bridge over the still fuming Deception Creek. Turnaround point. I took a break here, getting rid of the backpack and just strolling around nude. One of the few places on this hike where the sky is exposed so I enjoyed as much of the late afternoon sun as I could. Admittedly it was a little chilly out but you don't notice that much when you're hiking. You generate enough heat to not feel the cooling air.

I hated to leave but the insects come out around this time. Fortunately they weren't feasting too much on me yet but it would be a problem if I didn't start soon. So pack re-slung and off I went.

On the inbound leg you always wonder if someone came onto the trail after you and is headed in your direction . . . chance encounter . . . very real on the short legs of the switchbacks. I usually carry a pair of short tucked into my belt at the ready but I'd stuffed them in my backpack earlier. If I came across someone there would be no time to hurriedly put them on. I decided to take the chance and if need be, smile and bluff my way with good humor. The closer and closer I got the more I decided to brazen it and hike all the way back to my car nude.

I walked right onto the first log bridge without checking ahead for people. That felt good. A great confidence builder. Fortunately there was no one to test my bravado. But it was with the sme determination that I just brazenly walked out of the forest canopy and straight into the wide-open trailhead without pausing to check first. Again, no one. The sun was just going down . . . and I had fifteen minutes of joyful nudity before I reluctantly pulled on a pair of short and teeshirt to ward off the marauding night skeeters. A great hike!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Nude hike in a Thunderstorm?

How's that for craziness? Worse still, a nude hike in a thunderstorm as night falls, without a flashlight. Wish I had a picture of myself doing it.

It all started when I arrived to give my class and found that it had been cancelled . . . only someone had forgotten to tell me. And that after spending the entire day cramming and rushing to get the Power Point slides and handouts completed.

Hadn't eaten anything all day . . . had survived on dozens of cups of coffee . . . and the class was cancelled. I was stressed. My gut hurt, acid roiled, nerves jangled. And it was already drizzling in Everett.

So I'm driving back from Everett and now I have to deal with traffic which is snarling up. I'm wired, Tums don't work anymore . . . one of those moments you say 'F**k It!' I start driving toward the mountains instead. There's still some sunlight left . . . I just needed to get out of town and unwind a little.

An hour and a half later I'm driving up the Forest Service road to the Iron Goat Trail head and further on the logging roads beyond it. Eventually I stop and park. A short hike. It's still light enough and there's barely any rain. Do me good.

I undress. Hadn't planned for this hike so I don't have the standby shorts to carry . . . but who am I going to run into out here anyway. Fortunately, my backpack and hiking boots are still in the back seat. So is the emergency vinyl poncho that I've never used. Well, that'd keep some of the water off my back and I can toss the front part over my shoulder to enjoy the cooling night air. Just a short hike up and back. Off I go wearing just the poncho with the entire front twisted and thrown over my shoulder . . . and my walking stick. I forgot my headlamp.

Night falls fast in the mountains. Real fast and pretty soon it's hard to make out the road surface. But I've been up this trail before and the steady patter of raindrops on my chest and thighs feels great. My stomach is settled, the exercise is doing me fine. You hike a little . . . turn and think should I turn back . . . then turn forward again and say to yourself 'just a little longer'. That little longer turns into several miles of hiking and it's raining harder. There is no way that this poncho is going to keep any water of the naked body underneath. I don't even try. As long as I keep the back covered I really don't feel the cold. I love the sensation of the raindrops hitting my bare skin. I actually stand out there turning into the wind with arms outspread and legs planted apart inviting the breezes and rain to sensate me.

A flicker of lightning on the peak above suddenly strobing unknown shadows all around. Water riveletting down the gravel-topped road toward me, soaking my hiking shoes, the wind picking up and the raindrops now getting very cold. Time to turn back . . . my exposed arms are feeling cold-numbness as is another essential part of my anatomy, which is feeling anything . . . it's all shrivelled up (foreskins are good for something).

There are energy reserves there. I could pull the thin plastic down front to somewhat protect that part . . . but I don't. I'm obstinate . . . stubborn. I open myself up to the downpour and trudge on. Eventually I come across my car in the darkness, thankful for the keys slung around my neck.

Inside, in the darkness with the ratcheting pounding of rain on the roof, I sit there naked and suddenly shivering. Now I'm cold. But I'm renewed and totally aware. The engine is started, heater going and a towel left over from another trip is dry and usable. After five minutes I can drive the several miles back down to the Old Cascade Highway and Highway 2. I drive it nude, knowing there is no one crazy enough to be out to offend. Just short of the highway I put on my nice city clothes, dry my hair one more time and turn right, rested and relaxed for the hour and a half drive home. Taco Bell/Pizza Hut in Monroe made a tidy profit from my ravenous hunger long the way (six jumbo tacos and a personal pepperoni pizza . . . just what I needed.


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