Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Invisible Naked Hiker

This image is composite of two succesive photos. The overlay of myself was taken in near infrared and enhanced for impact. The darker areas show major heat sources from my body. Very often, this is the way I feel I might present myself on the trail . . . to myself, not necessarily to you.

I never expected that 'becoming one with nature' would eventually take on a very real and 'insubstantial' literal meaning. That's what nude hiking in the forests and back-country is supposed to do to you . . . right? You strip off your clothes and go wandering away . . . fully naked and receptive in all your senses to the environment around you. You are no longer an interloper . . . a transplant from the urbanite artificiality of the big city. You are humbled into a archetypical connection with nature. You have an epithany! You can never get enough of being naked in the forests.

Such is my case. Every chance I get I dissappear for hours . . . sometimes days at a time, so that I can shuck those clothes and soak in the primeval essence of nature. When you give yourself to the mountains and forests, the mountains and forests take you in. You become ultra-sensitive with your senses; hearing sounds you would have dismissed in the city, smelling the slight traces of moisture in the air and understanding the changing weather patterns, learning to walk as only a seasoned tracker might walk . . . understanding the turn of a fallen leaf or then bend of a twig on the trail. Even your skin . . . no longer muffled by the dampening of sensation by layers of clothes . . . becomes a primary sense organ, receptive to the environment around you. You become invisible in the way you hike.

Often, hiking a trail, I chuckle silently to myself when I hear the loud rustle of footfall on the trail far ahead of me or the flash of color that long ago my senses would never of noticed. Now they forewarn me of other hikers on the trail. Cover up or not depends on my mood, but the eventual passing of our ways always catches my fellow hikers off-guard. For all intents and purposes I am invisible . . . until the brief moment of encounter when they realise they just passed a naked hiker.

So someday, you may find yourself exploring the old trails of one-hundred year old mining claims . . . you may have heard of the stories of the ghost miners still tenaciously watching over their claims in hopes of one day hitting the mother lode of gold. You may see a shimmer of distortion far up on a trail and wonder. Or you may in fact, have seen me . . . one with nature and communing. Not to worry . . . I'm a friendly sort of ghost. The shimmer is just the happy glow of my skin drinking in the surrounding forests and mountains. Happy Halloween!

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