Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Can't Find a Nude Beach? Claim One For Yourself?

Finding a place to get out and enjoy the sun shouldn't be an exercise in frustration . . . especially here in the Pacific Northwest with all the forest land and wilderness we are blessed with. The tolerated and designated nude beaches like Sauvies Island and Rooster Rock are great but there are literally hundreds of miles of isolated and underused sunny beach areas along the river courses descending from the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. Within 45 miles of Seattle is the wide flood plain of the Skykomish River above Index. There are many more. Get out there and enjoy them.

Getting to where you want can sometimes be a task, like here off the Index-Galena Road where I have to ford the Skykomish River to reach the far bank and flood plain of the river where there is no habitation and a general lack of interest . . . but some great nude hiking!
The water is rarely more than waist deep in the wider floodplains but use common sense when fording an unfamiliar river. Study it first and look for the clues of a shallow ford. Rapids and white water mean a constriction and fast flow . . . not good. Look up or downstream for a widening of the flow and then study that surface, avoiding areas that swirl and eddy which are typical of scoured deep pools in the bed. Look for changes in color . . . a richening of the glacial green that might indicate deep water.

The rivers of the Cascades flow clear and cold. That clarity means you can see where you're walking . . . that same clarity means algae can grow on the rocks on the river bed. The shallower the water, the slicker those rocks get. When fording, set a foot before you lift the other. Be sure of your footing. Use a trekking pole or staff and plant it on the downstream side in fast flow.

I've met a number of weekend anglers 'pussy-footing' it in the shallow water trying to keep the bottom of their shorts dry. Some give up . . . most get miserably wet. Some follow my route and see the sensibility of at least fording the river nude makes a whole lot of sense. Out here in the wilderness few really care and perhaps some will become converts. Who knows what happens when they head up their direction of the river and I head the other. I know of at least one couple that didn't bother to get re-dressed after fording and parting ways.

This particular stretch of sand is as warm and luxurious as any beach. It is on the wild-side of the river completely unobservable from places where people go . . . shielded even more by giant washed-down trees and large boulders. Facing west it catches the sun for most of the day.

The water is cold but definitely refreshing. This large pool is a result of flowback into a depression in the riff-raff of the annual river floods . . . constantly refreshed by a side stream of the river.

The payback for the short hike in is the chance to just lay out lazily in the sun and enjoy the summer heat abated by gentle breezes flowing down the river valley.

There are also many places to mold your body into for an afternoon snooze. This one is tailor made for me because I can lay back and watch all those hikers making their way up the road off the far bank without being observed myself . . . and with a wide river between us. It kinda says, you have your side and I have mine. I relaxing now . . . see ya later.

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