Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Beginner Nude Hiker?

Just a few simple ideas to make that first hike good:

Firstly, relax and don't worry too much. Most people you inadvertently meet on the trail are of the tolerant sort and encountering a nude hiker isn't totally unheard of. You do want to be considerate and prudent so . . .

  • Pick the lesser used trails (good resource is the Forest Service listings, link in the Sidebar)
  • Do your hiking on a weekday when trails are not as well used (if at all)
  • Hike the back Forest Service roads that do not service trailheads (again, check the maps and the Forest Service) . . . old logging roads make great nude hiking areas
  • Pick a trail that only has one trailhead versus one that has trailhead at both ends. That way you won't be surprised by someone hiking in from the other direction
  • Cars at the trailhead usually means that someone is on the trail . . . no cars and no trailhead at the other end and you can confidently hike in nude knowing that no one is on the trail ahead of you
  • Learn to open your senses and be observant. Tracks? Are they old or fresh? Spider webs across the trail? All are signs of recent activity or the lack of it.
  • Hike in the first mile clothed or ready to clothe. After the first mile you see very few hikers as most just give up. Those you might meet are often just like you or very tolerant.
Decide what you are going to do if you do encounter someone on the trail . . .
  • If your senses are open to the surroundings you should be able to hear or see someone approaching long before your nudity is apparent. Out of consideration, slip on a pair of shorts.
  • Always clothe yourself if there is a chance of encountering children on the trail. Likewise, before going through a campground on a trail, slip on some shorts.
  • Simple nudity is no illegal in National Forests in this region (Region Six, the Pacific Northwest). That does not make nudity legal, though. If you are told to clothe up by a ranger, do so. Lewd behavior is illegal and will get you cited should someone complain.
  • Simple Nudity is prohibited by rule in the National Parks except where permitted by notice (such as the pool area immediate to Olympic Hot Springs in Olympic national Park.
  • All nudity is illegal in Washington State Parks.
  • On Department of Natural Resources (DNR) lands, nudity is treated much in the same way as the National Forests.
  • On encountering someone on the trail, short up only if you can do so without looking panicky and stupid. Otherwise it's just best to grin and bare it. You'd be surprised how few people even care. Try putting your shorts on before hiking: Can you do it with a backpack on? Will they even slip over your hiking boots or are you going to end up rolling down the slope with one foot stuck in them. I've taken to putting my shorts out of reach on some of the more remote trails. On the few occasions I've encountered people, just knowing there is no way to get those shorts out of the pack and get them on, makes it easy to stand my ground and hike nude as if it were the most natural thing in the world . . . which it is. After a few times of that, being nude and staying nude becomes second nature. Encounters rarely bother me.
Take care of your skin:
  • Hiking in the mountains brings you that much closer to damaging ultraviolet rays at altitude. And there are some parts of you that have seen very little exposure to sunlight. Use sunblock, especially if you are fair-skinned and subject to sunburning. The pump-spray type of sunblock works best if you are alone and need to protect your back. Remember to re-apply it if you have been sweating a lot or have gone skinny-dipping.
  • Moisturize your skin! The environment will dry it out and make your skin vulnerable to cuts and scratches, poison oak (little in the west side of the Cascades), stinging nettles and bugs. If your skin is hydrated and in good condition it will stand up well to these assaults.
  • Do not hike at dawn or at dusk. These times are the favorite feeding times for mosquitoes and no-see-ums. DEET is the most effective insect repellent around but it is deleterious on the skin and is probably systemically poisoning us. Use DEET sparingly. Spray you pack instead and attach several repellent wipes to the pack and your hat. All biting insects are attracted to the carbon dioxide we breathe out . . . that's why they hang out around the tailpipe of a running motor.
  • Horse Flies (attack the legs) and Deer Flies (attack the head) are vicious nasty biting pests. Learn their habits and favorite areas so you can avoid them. Do not use fragarent or fruity aftershaves or frangrances as these attract insects, not to mention bears.
  • If your skin is adequately moisturized you will stand up to temperature changes better. Hiking produces a huge amount of heat energy which is dissipated easier when nude. But likewise, when you stop moving your body is still radiating that heat away into the environment. Learn your limits on exposure and the warning signs of hypothermia (too cold) or hyperthermia (too hot). Vitamin B6 and acclimization will boast your basal celluar metabolism enabling you to withstand the cold a little longer . . . most people can withstand 50F indefinitely without slipping into hypothermia . . . you are putting out enough heat to balance what is lost. B6 and acclimization can take you down into the low 40s.
  • Conversely, hyperthermia is overheating, usually excaberrated by loss of electrolytes from sweating and a thickening of the blood (heat exhaustion). Strangely, it is more a problem for nude hikers because we have more skin exposed to evaporate sweat into the air and thus we can slip into heat distress without much warning (the first warnings you will get are the cramps and general muscle weakness). Bring plenty of water with you and drink it. A sage saying goes that if you are peeing clear, you are hydrated sufficiently. If not, then you are not drinking enough water. Getting into the habit of sipping as you hike. If you are already thirsty, you are dehydrated. Carry salt tablet or a rehydration pack. If you desire salt, trust your body . . . it's asking for those electrolytes.
  • Avoid coffee and colas. I love coffee and I ignore this rule, but coffee is a diuretic . . . it makes your kidneys work overtime in pulling water from your bloodstream. Your going to piss more! Same with alcohol.
Keep a sufficient energy reserve:
  • Hiking in the mountains can use 4-6,000 calories a day. Carb load yourself the day before.
  • Avoid a large meal before or during a hike. Digestion uses up to 60% of your available energy output to digest that meal . . . energy that is not available for hiking. Stick to small snacks or high carb/high protein. Chocolate is the hikers lifesaver . . . there is a lot of energy in a simple chocolate bar.
  • Carry a couple of runner's glucose gel packs for immediate energy when needed.
  • Avoid flatulent foods such as eggs, animal fats, the cabbage family. The produce gas and sometime painful cramps or explosive decompression as you gain elevation.
  • Wear a hat. Make it light-colored . . . deer flies like dark colors.
  • Wear sunglasses. The sun is very bright up top . . . especially if you come onto a pristine alpine snowfield.
  • Carry an emergency poncho in a pouch. The weather turns on a dime in the mountains.
  • Wear the best pair of hiking shoes or boots that money can afford. Your feet have to get you in there and back out again. Wear two pairs of socks so that the inner pair slide against the outer pair to minimize blisters. The pairing also acts as a wick to move moisture away from your feet. Carry a spare pair of socks. Clip your toenails. If you don't and they cramp against the toe on the downslope you aren't going to want to hike too far.
  • Carry a least a few bandaids and a styptic pencil (the type shaver's use) to take care of minor scratches and cuts before the biting insects are attracted to the fresh blood. Consider at least a small first aid kit in your fanny pack or backpack
  • Let someone know where you're going and the time you're expected to check back in. If there is a chance of getting lost, carry maps and a compass . . . maybe a GPS unit. Carry your cell phone. It might work, especially on the higher ridges. Carry something that can act as a signaling mirror. Always, always, carry something reliable with which to make a fire that may save your life.
  • Have a good hiking staff or pole. Mine is a piece of deadfall I picked up year ago and I love it.
  • Bears aren't much of a problem. They're shy creatures. But I still carry bear deterrent . . . it's very effective . . . especially on the two-legged variants.
Even on a long 7-8 miler, everything you should need should fit into a fanny pack versus a backpack. The idea is to maximize your skin exposure and trudging along with a backpack is not my idea of getting sun on my back. I rarely even buckle on the fanny pack, instead, preferring to sling it over a shoulder so that I feel I'm truly hiking free and nude. Let me know if I'm missing anything . . .


Monday, May 29, 2006

We Had a Successful Clean Up Event at Scenic this Saturday

32 Wonderful souls moved mountains of trash this past Saturday at Scenic Hot Springs. The springs are getting that much closer to being re-opened legally as a nudist-friendly venue. Read the blog posting in the Scenic Hot Springs blog.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Ted passed away today

My brother-in-law passed away after a short but acute bout with cancer earlier today.

Ted's cancer had progressed from a melanoma on the neck to his lymph nodes and then on into a double-lung cancer that did not respond to agressive chemotherapy. Ted had a love of life and his rural home in the foothills of the Cascades. I remember him most for the extended hiking trips we took. He had a fasination with all things in the making of beer that were is traditional Christmas and birthday presents to everyone he knew. Ted leaves behind his wife (my sister) and his teenaged son. We will all miss him; he was very much a part of my life.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Nude GeoCaching: Foss Moss

Foss Moss by bangedupshins (2/1.5)

N47° 39.572 W121° 17.970 (WGS84)
UTM 10T E 627680 N 5279860

Use waypoint: NWP002 User Data: Nudibility Potential Very Good

Size: Regular Hidden on 4/16/2006


Difficulty: ** Terrain: *½

This is a multi - cache consisting of hiking to two locations in the nude to obtain the directions to the actual cache, located within an ammo box. The clues will take you on a hike of approx. five miles (round trip) . . . plenty of time to enjoy being clotheless. How you prove you did the search au'natural is unimportant. The whole purpose for this geocache it to enjoy doing something au'natural in a relatively nude-safe location. There are no reporting or logging requirements other than to sign the log and let me know you've found the cache.

This location is off the beaten path. The dirt road has been decommissioned and does not even show on the newer topo maps, so you should not have any problem hiking nude; I never have and I've free-hiked it dozens of times. It is one of the few locations you can walk away from the crutch of clothes and not have to worry about quickly covering up. That's how unvisited this location is . . .

Access: Take SR2 past Skykomish and the Skykomish Ranger Station. Just past the Last Chance Espresso take the right onto Foss River Road and follow it in as it become a gravel forest service road. Continue past the Tonga Ridge turnoff, the Necklace Trailhead and the Foss River Campground turnoff. You will go over two short concrete bridge. Watch your GPS for indications of the unnamed narrow gravel road to the left. The starting point is a few hundred feet up that road.

First Clue - The Posted Coordinates The dirt roadway has a short concrete spillway in case the creek overflows it's culvert. Just before this spillway is an area where you can park your vehicle. There is a campfire ring to which the coordinates point. Go off the road 50 feet or so on the downhill side in the general area of the creek. In your explorations of this area near the road and creek think of the effects of a lightening strike on a large tree and then look for the magical, human-sized opening. Once inside, check out the tunnel-like view of the sky from inside. You will see it.. Follow the simple instructions on your GPS unit that are printed on the card. Secure the clue for the next seeker.

Second Clue Time for a hike up the decommissioned dirt road, setting waypoints as directed. After the second waypoint is entered, set the GPS to GOTO this waypoint and watch the distance indicator until you are approx the proscribed distance away. You should be in a turnaround clearing. At the end of the clearing on the uphill side you will see a jumble of logs, and one very obvious upright propped log (it is pretty much weathered). Again, note the instructions and rehide the clue. Now is the time to enjoy the view, catch some sun and perhaps have lunch.

The Cache Did you see it and wonder on your way up? The cache is approx 550 feet due south along the obvious wide path but you don't need a GPS unit to find it now. The cache is concealed behind an obstruction right next to the overgrown trail within fifty feet of the far end of the bridge.

Note: Although the instructions indicate you will enter the brush at points, this is very open terrain and you should have no need for protective clothing other than a good pair of hiking shoes and some light-weight utility gloves. If you have parked just short of the spillway you are already out of sight of the main road and near your first clue. You can strip right at the car and leave your clothes there for this search. All you need is your GPS unit, a compass and a good eye for distance; plus a water bottle and perhaps a lunch to enjoy in one of the clear-cut, sunny areas you will cross. You may need a small flashlight to read the first clue and a small memo pad and pen is handy to write down directions.

Safety: This cache is located in National Forest and in a relatively unvisited area. Take normal precautions and be aware of your surroundings. Black bears are known to forage in the Foss River valley down below. They are shy creatures and avoid humans but be aware of the time of year and the potential for bears foraging berries along the side of the abandoned road.

A bigger problem are the deer flies that hatch in early August in waterbound areas at the higher elevations . . . particularly Evans Lake. Be prepared to deal with DEET. Also consider sun exposure at the higher points.

You cannot get lost on this search; merely follow the road track back to your car. Do not attempt to drive your car past the short spillway. The road quickly narrows and presents few turnarounds unless you have 4WD and adequate clearance.

Additional Hints Hints

Current at 4/16/2006

Decoded Hints

They say a rolling stone gathers no moss. But this large boulder has been sitting beside the trail long enough to become Foss Moss!

Spoiler #1: The location of clue #1 can be seen in pic # 1

Spolier #2: The hiding location of the 2nd clue is in pic # 2

Spoiler #3: The cache location is obvious in pic # 3 . . . if you can figure out where the picture was taken.

Friday, May 5, 2006

Silver Creek-Mineral City: Grin and Bare It

I gave myself a present today . . . I took some time off for myself, by myself. I did a hike I'd always wanted to do but lacked the time. With another beautiful, sunny day and things stable with Ted it was time to stretch the legs.

The trail up Silver Creek to Mineral City is not well-marked on most maps, and is certainly not signed nor listed with the Forest Service. You get to the starting point a little more than nine miles (9.3) down the Index-Galena Road, zeroing your odometer at the Highway 2 turnoff for Index. Immediately after crossing the wood-deck bridge over Howard Creek you take a left to cross the bridge over the North Fork of the Skykomish River. The road immediately become dirt and forks straight and right a couple of hundred feet on the other side. Straight heads up Salmon Creek and right slips around the bulge of the mountainside toward Silver Creek. I took the Silver Creek right. It is drivable (in my Civic) about a mile up. I could have parked at the road fork with easy access and so on but I didn't trust leaving my car there. From my previous forays into this area I knew there were a number of pullouts to safely park a vehicle out of prying eyes and idle hands. I also thought the road obscure enough that the car would be safe for an extended period.

The one time I hiked a portion of this road, it deterioated quickly into a jeep trail. I'd only scouted about a mile in and never saw anybody. Some 4WD tracks to a clearing that is obviously used for the gun aficionados but then the road gets even rougher. Beyond the few rustic cabins down below on the west side of the river that need access, this road seems to have been decommissioned and left to revert beyond the one mile point. The 1972 topos show the road continuing around the bulge of the mountainside and up the south side of Silver Creek in a northerly direction. With the road falling apart so much, I wondered how accurate those maps were.

I parked my car as far in as I dared. All the property along the river is private and so signed. There are a few points where signage is absent and I trekked down for a great view of the river. Then it was back to the task at hand . . . Mineral City.

The Galena claim (which lies dormant the best I can figure out) is a followup to the copper, silver and gold finds in the regions to the north . . . the most well-known, the Monte Cristo claim. Mineral City is less well-known and lays about four miles up the Silver Creek valley near the base of the 8,000 ft Silvertip Peak. On the other side of Silvertip lays the valley of Monte Cristo. A trail runs through Poodle Dog Pass between the two sites (an adventure for a later trip). Other than way the topos told me, I knew nothing about the terrain or conditions . . . or even the present existence of Mineral City. I just knew that I needed a good nude hike . . . really the only excuse I ever need.

A four mile hike in and four miles back is right at the verge of me bringing a backpack in case it takes longer. I decided to travel really light with just my thermos (did I mention I like my coffee), and a fanny bag. I undressed right at the car, confident that I had the road to myself. Normally I would carry a pair of shorts in case I needed to cover up but that seemed superfluous. I was not going to meet anyone going in or I would have seen another vehicle parked. By the time I would be coming out it'd be too late for newcomers to be inbound. I was wrong on the last count. I left the shorts and teeshirt on the front seat of my car, locked it, and started the easy hike up the still drivable road.

The full sun to my back felt good. I felt a little nervous being in full view on a straight road . . . thinking, that I really don't know where this road leads and who might have a reason to be driving up it (or back down). Then there were the deep-tread tire marks from a jeep or similar vehicle that were made within the last day or so. Instead of worrying about such intangibles I immersed myself in the surroundings and the ever-present noise of the rapids in the river way off to the right down the steep slopes. Soon the road became too torn up for anything but a jeep to negotiate . . . which the tracks did. But they were from a day or so before. I relaxed and let myself enjoy the glorious feeling of walking nude in the sun and trees and breezes so gentle on the skin.

The grade is gentle (as the entire hike was to be with a few minor hurtles). About a mile and a half in the road Y's with one fork heading uphill to the left and another straight. This didn't show on the map. A left would be required to turn into the valley of Silver Creek but instinct told me not the trust the left fork. I tried straight ahead. Within a hundred feet the road ended and became a footpath onto a huge pile of talus and skree. The path across was obvious and seemingly well-maintained.

Strangely, the open road behind me (as torn-up as it was) had made me edgy. The moment it became a trail I was in my environment and could really relax. The sun was bright and full on the talus and Silver Creek was roaring far below over thunderous falls. I took my first break here, kinda reluctant to re-enter the stunted tree line and give up the full sun.

The path across the skree is narrow . . . no more than 18 inches. The skree is also very loose and one misstep or loss of balance meant a several hundred foot fall down an extremely steep slope of razor-sharp rock to the raging creek below. I made sure of my footing. Still, I was surprised that the obvious footpath was in such good condition after the winter. For an obscure trail, someone was maintaining it.

The trail picks up an easy level path on the other side. This was once a mining or logging road as was obvious from the reclaimed width. The evidence of maintenance is all around with machete-work on fresh-cut saplings to keep the trail open. On the downside of the slope there are numerous terrain-benches perfectly suited for camping, which the campfire rings attested to . . . though not in use today. Have I missed a perfect gem of a trail?

I come across my first mine shaft opening in a solid pluton of iron-oxide stained rock. It is right there beside the trail. I explore the entrance briefly but there is no way you would catch me going inside. Still, the mine shaft was unexpected and not on the map nor the mines database I'd consulted earlier. There would be a few more. That it was once a narrow road is obvious at this point. What is more interesting is the roar of rapids and falls from the creek (river?) below, whicj have been accompanying me up.

I reach Quartz Creek (which had confused me when I researched the route because there is another Quartz Creek that is a favorite hike of mine; they are unrelated). This is the one spot on the map were the trail stops and then picks up a short distance later. Now I saw the reason. There was a huge chasm seventy feet across and a like distance down where the bench had been washed away. If there was ever a bridge across this it had long ago disappeared. How do I get across? The sides were sheer and unstable. A few moments later I spotted the ladder down to the bottom. It took some reluctance and careful testing before I trusted my naked self to putting weight on the rungs. The ladder was almost vertical and at an unnatural sideways cant. Quartz Creek rushed by and had to be forded at the bottom . . . and then it was pull myself up the steep dirt bank on the other side by a brand new climbing rope that someone had thoughtfully left there. Brand new . . . no dirt or weathering. But why? Who was maintaining this trail? This was not Forest Service work.

The next few side creeks and gulches have vehicle-width wood-plank bridges across them. All of them are in disrepair with rotten planks and in one case an entire longitudinal support dropped one hundred feet below into a raging gorge.

I step carefully, prodding the wood deck ahead with my staff, listening for the dull thud of wood wanting to give out. I don't think these bridges will last out more than another season or two. For now, they hold my weight, which is inconsequential considering the vehicles these bridges must have been constructed for. I feel confident enough to enjoy the waterfalls coming down off the Crested Buttes far above . . . or the great views of Silver Creek raging far below.

Back on the level trail after another section of talus and skree I spot something out of character in the treeline ahead. Shape and color, it looks artificial, and as I get closer I realize it is an old bus. I slow. Is someone living out here on Forest Service land? Squatters? Drug lab. As I get closer it looks disused so I approach it. Seems sealed up. No tires; windows sealed over with metal . . . almost looks fortified. One section of metal has been pried up . . . someone taking a look-see. I take a look as well. Hasn't been taken care of . . . spider webs and such inside. There are a couple of lawn chair stacked up outside that do seem relatively new . . . but no one is around. I continue on my way.

The cabin takes me by surprise. It is right off the trail in a flat area with No Trespassing side posted. Like the bus, the cabin is all boarded up but looks in good shape. The metal chimney sticking out of the roof is new. Still, no one is around and I'm pretty sure that I am on National Forest property. The 'No trespass' is not on the trail so I continue past.

The trail gets wet now. I pass another old mine opening in the solid rock next to the trail. Trail maintenance seems to have stopped around here as the new growth is encroaching. Fallen trees make for climbing over or detouring as I start to enter the residual snow at this elevation . . . just patches of a couple of inches . . . more in the flat areas to the right. Near the head of the valley, my GPS said 7/10s of a mile. I look at my watch. I can't afford the extra half hour . . . not without being able to see an obvious target through the young trees obscuring the head of the valley.

I decide against trying because I have to be back in Carnation by seven. Reluctantly I take a quick break and then head back down.

I met my first hiker soon after passing the bus . . . inbound for camping. Took me completely by surprise, but I didn't have any shorts to cover up if I wanted to. Grin and bare it; he was totally non-plussed and we exchanged ideas on how much further he had to go and the bus and cabin on his way (it was his first hike in as well). Not a bad encounter at all. I hiked on. I realized as I hiked that the encounter had been so easy because without shorts there was nothing to panic over . . . nothing to hurried grab and try to slip on. I may not go sans backup shorts on all nude hikes but today, being without that crutch made everything else all the much sweeter

It wasn't until I was well on the gravel road within a mile of my car that I had my second encounter . . . a couple with their dog. Again, what can I do but be natural . . . I smiled, petted the dog and we chatted about their destination . . . which wasn't far. It was as if I wasn't naked at all. Actually made me feel real good inside. The rest of the hike back to my car was uneventful, though I did find myself slowing down as I got closer . . . to prolong the experience. What a wonderful day!

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