Saturday, October 25, 2008

Happy Halloween

Had a lot of fun playing around with this image and trying to come up with something relating to both nude hiking and the spirit of Halloween. The picture is from a hike some time ago to Blanca Lake near Mount Cristo. Here's the original:

I had originally thought to create an "Invisible Nude Hiker" but as I experimented with the settings I kind of liked the effects . . . semi-invisible as if you could see the larger muscle masses inside my body, hot for the exertion of the hike . . . perhaps a thermographic image, of sorts. After all, a digital camera images not only in the visible spectrum but also in the near infrared. In essence, the heat of the subject is also captured and with photo manipulation software a heat-map of my skin can be coaxed out. The image is showing what areas of my body are radiating the most heat . . . an interesting and, I think, an appropriate Halloween pic.

For those of you interested in playing around with digital images, I use G.I.M.P (the GNU Image Manipulation Program), an open-source program. It's free and does everything Photoshop does for many hundreds of dollars.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"I just havent built up the nerve"

I get emails from curious people all the time . . . most asking how to get up the courage to get started in nudism. I thought I'd share one recent email and the response I sent:

XXXXX XXX wrote:
> > Rick
> > I really love your website, my name is xxxxx and I have wanted to do
> > Nude Hiking but I guess I just havent built up the nerve to. I bet its
> > got to be very relaxing. I would love to go sometime. Do you usually
> > go in a group? All men? Inform me a little so I can get an idea. If
> > you want I can send you some pics, so that you know that I am not
> > disgusting, haha and that I would be serious.
> >
> > xxxxx
> >
> > p.s. how do people react when they see you walking around nude?
> >
> >

Hey xxxxx,

Thanks for the compliment.

As you surmise, hiking (and many other activities) are just plain more comfortable and freeing when done nude. The hardest part is, as you note, getting up the nerve to do so. So here is my heartfelt suggestion: contact the Sun Lovers Under Grey Skies (SLUGS) an fill out the application form. The SLUGS are
what is known as a Travel Club in the nudist/naturist community . . . that is, they do not own land but get together and arrange events where members can be nude. Membership in the SLUGS is reasonable . . . $20 per year with the option of also joining the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) and The Naturist Society (TNS), both of which I highly recommend. The SLUGS are a Puget Sound-based club but there are also other clubs all around the states.

The real benefit of joining a local travel club is that you find like-minded people . . . many of them approaching nudism for the first time like you. The membership suggests trips like visits to clothing-optional beaches or resorts . . . informally gets together members for nude hikes, and the like. You participate as much as you like because there is no pressure. For example, over this winter season we have arranged with a posh private pool to have nude swim once a month for our members.

The other real benefit is that members are vetted and you can feel safe at SLUGS events.

For myself, I participate in most SLUGS events . . . but I generally do my hiking alone. The main reason for that is that I rarely plan a nude hike . . . a nice day off comes around and I just head out at the last moment. I do participate in group nude hikes and camping but more often you will find me just plainly exploring some corner of the Cascades. I rarely hike nude with someone who is not already a friend or a member of a nudist club . . . because that vetting process is important.

All men? Nope. We have men and women participate in our events. I occasionally will get together with a male or female member of the SLUGS for an impromptu weekday hike. No big deal because we trust each other and the motives behind the hiking.

As far as pics . . . not important at all. The biggest draw of nudism and naturism is that what you look like doesn't really matter at all. That's a hard concept to digest but after awhile being a nudist you realize that no one is perfect. What you look like is not important . . . what you are looking for is. We look to enjoy the freedom that nudism

I used the terms 'nudism' and 'naturism'. To most they are synonymous but there are subtle differences.

Nudists tend to embrace social nudism . . . or getting together to enjoy nude events with like-minded people. AANR and the landed nudist resorts are most often associated with social nudism.

Naturists are those individuals to whom participation by others is not the driving motivation. They tend to want to experience nature in the most natural form (nude). Experiencing nature with others is mostly incidental. TNS, most clothing-optional beach groups, and many travel clubs tend to embrace this approach.

There is a third approach which I call Nude Activism . . . most closely associated with the Body Freedom Collaborative (BFC), the World Naked Bike Ride, and the Nude Bicyclists of the Fremont Solstice Parade. I shy away from most activism because I do not believe in the shock-value of what many participants do. However, I do participate in some of those events when they fit within my comfort zone . . . i.e. being nude in the Fremont Parade is becoming accepted, and fun for all.

The Body-Painted Nude Cyclists at the Fremont Solstice Parade is a highlight

To many . . . there is a blending of the terms. I enjoy nude social events (such as Octoberfest at Fraternity Snoqualmie), I enjoy being body painted for the Fremont Parade, but I especially enjoy that solo nude hike where I may never see another individual.

You finally ask, "How do people react when they see you walking around nude?" Well, for the most part (99%) the reactions are positive from either indifference to smiles to high fives to 'tell me more about it'. I have never had a negative reaction on the trail and I've encountered hundreds of fellow hikers in the past fifteen years. Not one negative reaction! But then again, I do not hike nude in situations where an encounter might lead to a bad reaction. I do not hike nude on popular trails, on weekends and at times when families or children might be sharing the trail. That is just common courtesy.

I hope that answers some of your questions. Feel free to ask any more if they pop up. Better yet, check out the SLUGS. They are a great group of like-minded people . . . very supportive and a great introduction to nudism. And when you are ready we will get you participating. It's such a freeing sensation ...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bagby Hot Springs, Oregon Video

Field Guide Video - Bagby Hot Springs, Oregon

Featuring my friend Michael Rysavy
Northwest Forest Conservancy

Producer - Stacy Libokmeto; Videographer - Michael Bendixen; Editor - Todd Sonflieth

Bagby Hot Springs, Oregon

Widget powered by EveryTrail: GPS Geotagging

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Surprise Creek Hike - Aug 2008 (a belated posting)

Preface: I did this hike in the middle of August amid medical issues (the renewed cluster headaches that eventually led to the discovery of a tumor and the just recently completed surgery). At the time, I just didn't have the wherewithal to sit down and write up a trip report . . . despite having immensely enjoyed the hike. With a successful surgery now behind me, I'd like to share this nude hike with my readers. Belated it is but perhaps it will instill a feeling of summer as the dull pre-winter doldrums take us over. Think sunshine!!!

Now on with the hike, au'natural, of course. The destination is/was Surprise Lake.

The north end of Surprise Lake

The Surprise Creek Trail near Stevens Pass is one of the more accessible and popular trails into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area of the Snoqualmie-Mt. Baker National Forest. That accessibility and popularity does not make this trail a good choice for a nude hike because of the numbers of visitors and the high chance of encountering those visitors along the trail at some point. However, properly planned you can find yourself with this beautiful hike to yourself. First choice, pick a weekday. This trail is a weekend-heavy destination with lots of beginners and those looking for a well-traveled and known trail for a weekend hike.

Secondly, this trail only has one easy access (it does intercept the PCT but PCTers couldn't care in the least about nude hikers). One way in and the same way out. Since there are no cars at the trailhead you can pretty much assume that no one is on the trail. Also the time going in and the planned time coming out have a bearing on the probability of encountering another hiker. Since I was planning on coming out near sunset it would be fair to say that there would be no incoming hikers heading in that late. Those guidelines for a popular trail have served me quite well.

However, while I was getting my gear (aka my fanny pack) together another car does pull up into the trailhead and two women get out. I dawdle and watch them go through their preparation routines. Heavy packs, sleeping bags etc. Be pleasant and engage other hikers. As they passed, loaded to the gills with equipment I exchange pleasantries and ask them about their destination. Glacier lake for a start and further onto the PCT the next day. They ask me where I'm heading and I tell them Surprise Lake and bear hunting (holding up my camera). That gets a laugh and then they are off . . . strong hikers both. I never caught up with them.

These hikers were going in much further and bivouacking the night beyond my planned destination. For me that meant that if I held back just a little then they would be far on the trail leaving me comfortable with the idea of staying nude and enjoying the hike. I gave them fifteen minutes and then I was off. I waited until passing the BPA corridor and entering canopy before stripping down.

Entering the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area

The beginning stretch of the trail is under heavy tree canopy and is a pleasant walk along a well-maintained footpath. Not long into the hike you cross into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area with its wonderful old-growth hemlocks and lush foliage. Deep at the base of the valley, the air is still, heavy, hot and muggy . . . hiking through it is somewhat like walking through a warm resistance that caresses every square inch of my body. I'm glad I'm nude because clothed, I would have been soaked through barely a mile into the trip. Just hiking here is a great explanation of the benefits of hiking nude! How could you not be comfortable? And why should anyone take exception to the sanity of hiking comfortably by hiking nude?

Puncheon Boardwalk predominates the lower stretches of the trail

As the trail begins wind wind higher on the western side of Surprise Creek it crosses the rise and fall of expansive (and sensitive) wetlands areas. Here the Forest Service and trail volunteers have constructed a long series of puncheon boardwalks and stairs to keep hikers off the sensitive wetlands. The puncheon rises and falls over gradually higher hummocks. I'm grateful for them as the alternative would have been an exercise in muddy sloughing.

Crossing Surprise Creek on the replacement log bridge

Eventually the trail would cross over to the eastern side for the only reasonable approach to the outlet of Surprise Lake far above. The old crossing, which was also a large, worked tree trunk, had cleats and railings for safer footing. You can see some of those remains in the picture above. The replacement bridge is another large trunk winched across the creek and planed along the top. Crossing makes you cognizant of your sense of balance . . . not something I'd want to do during winter or times of heavy creek flow. However, the creek is serene now. A gentle breeze descends the creek bed from on higher, providing some sweat and heat-relief. A good place to take a short coffee break in the first open spot so far.

Devil's Club . . . The Nude Hiker's Bane

One should be thankful for the boardwalks and great path because down this low and near the creek Devil's Club is all over the place. This evil succulent would make any traverse across the lower valley torturous, if not impossible. The image above, while pretty with the ripening berries atop the stalk, does Devil's Club little justice. The thorns of the more mature plants are often a wicked inch and a half long and cover every conceivable surface of the plant. They will shred the clothing on any hapless hiker trying to get through. The milky sap is also an irritant in the cuts and scratches the thorns produce.

Devil's Club is traversable if you are careful and I've done it a number of times in need or in taking a shortcut. If you are careful and use your staff to push the stalk aside you might emerge unscathed. Doing so nude and guess what? I emerge relatively unscathed even with direct contact. I guess the sharp thorns slide past my bare skin instead of catching on clothing and pulling in to penetrate skin. But I don't recommend it . . . nor do I go off trail today. Today I just admire the wicked foliage from a safe distance.

The talus slopes overshadowing the lower trail and . . .

You pass a number of creekside clearings on this side that make great campsites for those who do not plan on tackling the headwall of the valley and Surprise Lake above. Campfires are not permitted in potential camping areas near the lake far above, so many weekend warriors will pitch tent down below where they can have their raging fire, and turn the upper lakes into an easier day hike.

Not far from these camping spots the trail briefly winds through a labyrinth of massive granite boulders that have fallen from a large talus slope to the east. What caused the massive collapse of the mountainside is unknown . . . the talus slope has alway shown on the maps.

. . . the resulting maze of gigantic boulders

The trail winds its way around these house-sized behemoths. Sight distance is short because you are always going around another and then another. Large trees jut into the sky with their thick roots corded around boulders in an intimate embrace. These boulders are being reclaimed and reduced . . . eventually, only the trees will remain.

Nude Hikers Breaking Spider Webs Across the Trail? Brrrrrrrr!!!!

Spiders. We're all afraid of spiders, aren't we . . . at some level? I get the willies when I inadvertently walk through a spider web in my backyard . . . and spend the next hour or so scratching an imagined itch in my scalp.

There was a discussion in the nudist forums some years ago about how to tell if the trail you're hiking on as had any other visitors. One of the suggestions was that if spider webs or strands spanned the trail then no one had been there recently. Well, I can accept that advice with some slight reservation. Spiders can spin silk rather rapidly but if I see a lot of spider webs undisturbed I make certain assumptions . . . there hasn't been much disturbance recently. But almost to a person, the heebee jeebees came to fore when someone suggested that he wouldn't want spider webs (and spiders) touching his nude body 'cause . . . spiders bite!!!!

Well, yeah, they do . . . but I've gone through so many spider webs on the trail that I've actually come to enjoy the tickling sensation of the spider silk on my bare skin. Not that I'm going to walk right through a full web like the image above.

A little playfulness on the way . . .
and a detour around the spider web?

Naw, I go around it and wonder how those two ahead of me managed to avoid going face to web as I almost did.

Cooling off along the way . . .

The trail once again parallels the creek for awhile just before the headwall. I stop to splash cold water over myself to cool off. The campers chamois comes out. Rinsed in ice-cold creek water and draped over the back of my neck it makes for an effective way to cool myself on the open, sun-drenched slopes coming up.

. . . because it's going to get hotter on the steep section up

Though the going is now steep and rocky and for the most part in direct sunlight, climbing the headwall is perhaps the best part of the entire hike because I'm getting lots of sunshine. I may be hot down below under the trees but it was also hot and sweaty. Up on the open headwall there is a breeze that dries off the sweat, which cools you . . . but then there is the direct sunlight that conversely warms the skin. A pleasant balance.

They've done a good job of routing the trail through switchbacks too numerous to count as you climb the headwall. You do 2,000 feet of elevation gain in one mile before you reach the saddle at the top and a number of outlets from Surprise Lake. Many people give up but it's well worth the effort.

Intercepting the Pacific Crest Trail

The segment of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from Trapp Pass south, intercepts the Surprise Creek Trail just before you reach Surprise Lake. This is a popular PCT bivouacking area with lots of flat, cleared areas suitable for setting up campsites (though campfires are specifically prohibited here and above 4,000 feet, in general). I think of the two female backpackers who preceded me inbound and tread slower, ready to put on some shorts out of courtesy. But not a problem . . . they have gone in further. I'm still quite alone and enjoying the easier terrain on the saddle. Surprise Lake is not far away over a few hummocks.

On the top it's momentarily like a manicured garden

Most first-time visitors to Surprise Lake are taken aback but the lazy meanders of streams and pools when they come over that first rise. It looks like a formal, manicured landscape of paths, shallow pools and neat grass. What they are seeing is actually not Surprise Lake but a low laying wetlands area that has naturally produced this landscaped effect . . . plus years of hiker's boots packing the hardpan tread of the paths. Nonetheless, entering this low area has a profound effect upon you. You can easily imagine yourself strolling about naked in an urban park . . . one that you know you have to yourself and can stroll about as much as you want. I spend some time in this area . . . enjoying a late lunch and, of course, coffee. This could easily be someones backyard . . . or my backyard . . . transplanted in the wild. So much different from the wilderness one hummock away in any direction.

At Surprise Lake . . . the water's just a little too cold!

One more rise west and you come across the northern shores of Surprise Lake . . . a true alpine lake. I only have time to explore the northern arm which represents about a third of the lake's area. It is sufficient for now because the views are stellar.

The lake is fed from snowmelt well into the late summer months . . . snow still clings deep to the peaks of Spark Plug Gap above. Consequently, the water is frigidly cold. No skinny-dipping here but there is plenty of exploring to do before the dropping sun sends the entire bowl into shadow. Time to head back.

On the way back down

The only downside to this hike was the leaving. I've always like backpacking into this area . . . especially from Trapp Pass past Surprise and Glacier Lakes and on to the shelters higher up. But today I'm not backpacking an overnighter. The sun is going down and most of the route is in shadow. The only question is 'did I leave enough time to get back to the trailhead before darkness?' Especially darkness under the heavy tree canopy further down.

The obligatory cup of coffee at the end of a great hike

I made it out just by sunset though there were moments under those trees as heavy darkness was closing in when I debated with myself about pulling out the headlight. Back at the trailhead I linger about nude enjoying those last moments before I have to get in the car and head back home. I always feel a little down when the day and light is gone and I must dress. And I usually berate myself for not starting earlier. But the exhilaration of today's hike will linger with me for days. Being natural is good for the soul.

Afterword: I don't recommend this trail for nude hiking unless you go out of your way to avoid encounters (do it on a weekday, check the trailhead, time your hike for the off-hours, etc.). This trail is just too popular and accessible, sees many families on hot summer weekends. Surprise Creek is also extremely popular as a snowshoeing destination during the winter months. But, on the flipside, if you can get the trail to yourself it will be a great hike.

Beyond Surprise Lake the nudity issue becomes moot as few go on to Glacier Lake and the segment of the PCT that traverses the area. There is a huge amount of stunning mountainous vistas to explore up there.

Length: 3.05 miles (one way to the outlet of Surprise Lake); a little over a mile more to the shelter above Glacier Lake (5,00ft elevation)
Elevation Gain: 2,500 ft (the outlet of Surprise Lake is at 4,500ft)
Trail well-maintained and relatively easy the first two miles; the last mile up the valley headwall covers the majority of the elevation gain.

Surgery Update

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I'm back from the hospital.

The surgery, an endoscopic transnasal transsphenoidal hypophysectomy . . . or more bluntly, a bunch of stainless-steel instruments shoved up my nose into the brain, was successful and they removed a 1/2 inch round cancerous mass from above the pituitary and also pressing on the trigeminal nerve (the probable cause of my cluster headaches.) They believe they got all of it. Radiation therapy may not be necessary but that will have to await followups.

Fortunately the optic nerve was untouched, the pituitary only compressed but functional. They are unsure of the trigeminal nerve and cannot tell me if the cluster headaches will now go away. I hope they do but probably not as I suffered another cluster last night.

I have to follow up for temporary hormone imbalances until the pituitary rebounds, and I have to be screened for cancer resurgence for . . . ? however long to determine if they use the gamma knife on any missed residual growth.

The bad news is no more hiking for a few weeks (by which time it will probably be too cold anyway). The good news, barring negative results from the screening and no chronic hormone imbalance, is that once my poor distorted nostrils shrink back to a more normal shape (and the doc says the sinuses have healed), I can do what I've always enjoyed . . . getting out there and hiking (nude, of course).

I'm back home and taking it easy for the next week or so. Just wanted the let everyone know I'm okay and to thank all those who sent well-wishes. Have a great day, ya'all ..

San Onofre Save the Beach Video

A couple of videos making a case for continued nude use at San Onofre State Beach in California.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

One Last Nude Hike...

I go into the hospital tomorrow afternoon (Thursday) with surgery scheduled for Friday morning. So I got one last hike in for the season, coincidentally, my first cold weather hike of the season. I chose Scenic again because it is a short hike.

Moisture-laden clouds wrapping around Windy Peak opposite Scenic

Winter this year is forecast to be a rather mild one, however the Cascades have already seen their first dusting of snow. Driving through Sultan the weather board said the temperature was 48F with intermittent rain and some rather nasty-looking thunderclouds . The mountains typical run 10 degrees cooler . . . or right down there at potential snowfall. Not your optimum nude hiking conditions but those who know me know that I actually enjoy cold-weather hikes . . . as long as I understand the conditions and my limits in dealing with them. Acclimated, the human body is remarkably resilient to temperature extremes. A short cold-weather nude hike to Scenic . . . with safety at either end . . . makes a good cold-weather 'get-used-to-the-cold' nude hike.

One of the few breaks in rain and a brief peek by the sun

High 30s to mid 40s . . . misting rain and heavy clouds shutting out the sun? I almost decide to hike on up clothed but a few moments getting my pack together and changing to hiking shoes convinces me that it's not that bad out there. There is barely any breeze. I strip off my clothes and stand around. Not so bad . . . once I get underway.

Part of my aclimization routine is to start taking the B vitamins to boost my metabolism . . . and particularly B-6 which increases the efficiency of protein metabolism . . . and the resultant body heat. It's a trick I use to withstand cold much longer and it seems to work for me. As I take ever more cold-weather hikes and expose myself to the cold . . . I acclimatize.

Of course, I'm not a total fool and remain cognizant of the dangers of hypothermia at this time of year. I was going to re-write an article on being prepared for nude hiking in cold weather but I will refer you instead to the old article, which essentially covers most bases. Hiking, in any form produces a lot of heat . . . body heat that often is enough to keep you warm in cold weather even if you are nude. If you start shivering, that's a warning sign. But until then you should be safe if you follow good sense, know your limits, and have a backup safety plan (like warm clothes ready in your backpack).

Snow is just beginning to stick around the 3,000 ft level

Off the clearcut and I'm back in shade . . . not that there is much sunlight anyway. The temperature is definitely dropping but at least I'm sheltered from any breezes. Just a residue of snow but it has fallen far lower that the predicted 4,000 ft.

Passing Meadows dropoff (Stevens Pass in the background)

The snow sticks around as I get higher and the trees open up. The best thing that can be said for cold weather is that thar ain't no bugs to nip at you as is typically the case around the Meadows Creek runoff area.

The snow-covered northwestern ridges overlooked by Scenic

A good two inches of snow at the switchback

Rounding the switchback the snow is definitely sticking and the footing becoming slick. My hiking shoes are not the best traction devices in snow. I should have worn boots. They would keep my feet warmer, as well.

The hot springs with just a dusting of snow

Finally, the springs come into view. They look great from above but up closer the past week's rain and wind storms have dumped a lot debris into the pools. Nevertheless, it feels great to lower myself into the hot water and soak in the heat. After a long time I set about cleaning the pools and setting siphons. Then it's on my way back down.

Footprints in the snow . . .

Mine were the only ones . . . it's always nice when you have the trail to yourself. I took the above picture to make a point though. Be aware when you hike and look for clues like footprints (in the snow, mud or otherwise). Same footprints coming out as those going in probably means that person is probably no longer on the trail, making a nude foray much easier.

I do apologize for the shortness of this trip report but I have other things on my mind for tomorrow. So wish me luck . . . till we meet again, auf wiedersein...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pirates Cove Nude Beach in CaliforniaThreatened

Pirates Cove Beach along the Central California coastline

The battle continues. First San Onofre Beach comes under threat and NAC (with AANR support) went to court to block the disingenuous re-interpretation of the Cahill Policy to make nudity illegal. That battle continues with San Onofre still clothing-optional for the moment. Read NACS update on that situation here:

Now Pirates Cove might be bought up by San Luis Obispo County in an attempt to regulate and remove nude use from this beach. County ownership of this fine beach, that has had traditional nude use for years, will result in the county being able to enforce county anti-nudity laws when in the past use as private property allowed nude use. A NAC Alert is forthcoming ...

From a RixPlace Posting:

Dear Naturist,

If you've been to Pirate's Cove on California's San Luis Obispo County coast, you know it as a delightful naturist beach. A brief write-up is on the Bay Area Naturist Resources page here:

It's a beautiful beach which I'd hate to lose to nudity. It's about the only well-established nude beach on the central California coast.

Unfortunately, SLO County Supervisors plan to buy the beach and then require clothing there. The plan is being rushed through and there is little time for us Naturists to act to stop it.

As soon as possible, naturists who regularly visit Pirates Cove need to network into a team to oppose the County's plan, or at least to modify it to allow continued nude use.

Please carefully read these news three articles ASAP and advise me if you are willing and able join a naturist contingent to fight this:

"Plan could put some clothes on Pirates Cove"
Bob Cuddy, San Luis Obispo Tribune, Sunday, October 5, 2008

"SLO County moves closer to ending nude sunbathing at local beach"
Carina Corral, KSBY 6 News, Tuesday, October 7, 2008

"County wants to spend millions to rid Pirates Cove of nudists"
Mark Fleming, SLOpinion, Tuesday, October 7, 2008

If you're a regular visitor to Pirates' Cove and are willing to serve on a team to keep it nude, please reply to me immediately, giving your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address, and letting me know in which ways you can help.

The Naturist Action Committee (NAC) is alerted to this issue and will soon be issuing an Action Alert on the subject. NAC board member Allen Baylis, who was key in the recent naturist victory at San Onofre, will be coordinating the team--once we establish it.

Whether or not you're able to be personally involved, please give generously to support the Naturist Action Committee. You may mail a check to

PO Box 132
Oshkosh, WI 54903-0132

Or call toll free (800) 886-7230 (8 AM-4 PM, Central Time, weekdays) to donate by phone using your MasterCard, Visa or Discover Card. Or use your credit card to make a convenient online donation:

- Rich

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Havanese Heaven - Clothing Optional in Leavenworth, WA

A reader clued me in about this clothing-optional opportunity in nearby, beautiful Leavenworth, WA. Probably too late in the season to check it out but I hope to visit this coming year and give a trip report. Or . . . I may just take the Amtrak train out of Seattle during winter and enjoy the covered hot tub, which is open year round ...

According to their website:

Located outside of friendly Bavarian Leavenworth, Washington - Enjoy the serenity of sunny and warm Havanese Heaven. Our clothing optional property includes your own private cottage with views of the Cascade mountains. Havanese heaven has great relaxing amenities including the pool, hot tub, sun and shade decks situated for maximum relaxation.

Give them a call or send an e-mail for more information or to make reservations.

Nightly Rental Rates - All Rooms
October - February
$ 125 / Night
3rd Night Free
March - May
$ 145 / night
4th Night Free
June - September
$ 165 / night
5th Night Free

All rates are per couple per night - full refund on cancellation within 30 days. 1-night deposit required for reservations. AANR members receive a 10% discount.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Scenic Hot Springs Night Visit

We had rather unseasonably warm weather this past Tuesday and Wednesday, both of which days I took advantage of to get out. I also had an excuse . . . seems someone had decided to break the Forest Service lock off the gate on FS850 (the FS Road that leads partway up to the springs). Without that lock the gate stays wide open and access is even harder to control . . . with the yahoos driving all over the place up there. Mike called and asked me to get a replacement.

Got a late start on the day just to make sure an episode wasn't in the making and if it was that I had the meds in place. Clusters always give you warning (at least, in my case). The day starts out with anxiety and hard-to-pin uneasiness . . . a light general malaise . . . and eventually to the subtle aura and growing nausea just before an episode. I'd been a little careful the last few weeks . . . sometimes holding back doing things just in case one was coming on. I felt fine.

I picked up the replacement lock at the Ranger Station in Skykomish . . . had a nice chat with one of the LE Rangers I know well . . . and then realized, 'hey, I'm running out of time to enjoy the sunshine!'

Still, I dawdled at the gate after I replaced the lock and checked to make sure both ours and the FS ones worked right. I decided to do some cleanup I've been meaning to organize a cleanup party for, yet never seemed to find the time.

Just half of the garbage - the rest of the
sacks were stacked in the backseat of my car

The cleanup was done just inside FS850 near the gate . . . a mere 300ft off busy Hwy 2. When I head up to Scenic I usually get nude right here and head on up, either driving to the clearcut or hiking the entire distance. I usually don't dawdle about nude at the gate . . . too often someone turns in . . . hoping to sneak in. Heck, it was a fine enough day. I fully expected to see a few cars round the turnoff and chug up that short stretch to the gate. Not that I really care about being seen nude. Nevertheless, no one came while I was busy picking up trash in the dense undergrowth below the road.

A big surprise was a large cache of canned and bottled foods stashed beneath a tree burl. At first I thought it was just someones garbage . . . sacks of garbage in the obscene . . . all cleverly hidden and disguised with branches and such. But it had been there for a long time. The plastic grocery sacks were decomposing and many of the cans rusted and bulging. What a waste of food!

There persists in Scenic lore a story of a homeless person having build himself a shelter of purloined plywood in the dense woods east of this area. I've never come across this lean-to, nor met the man, but the rumors continue. This might have been a food cache for this person, however, all of the food was ruined by the elements. I removed all the bursting cans and shattered glass jars.

In the end I had over ten sacks of garbage. Half I managed to get in the back seat of the Honda for later disposal. The rest I hoped some good-Samaritan visitor would cart away. By the time I was done the sun was getting low in the sky. If I intended to make it up to the springs I had to leave. So it was off . . . no cars at the gate . . . ergo no hikers on the trail up. Nude it was, all the way.

Bear prints on the upper BPA road . . . a yearling

The hind paws of a large bear to the side
of the trail near the Meadows Spring area

When I hike I try never to be pressed for time. For me it's not the destination that is important but rather the journey . . . the experience. Today was no different than others. Though the sun was getting close to the western ridges, the weather was so pleasant that I strolled more than hiked . . . taking my time to see things (and hear and smell them as well). For me, I can't think of any better way to enjoy nature than to immerse yourself in it. It's amazing what your senses become aware of when you take it slow and easy . . . like indistinct but fresh bear tracks right on the trail with you.

Bears don't bother me much. They are just another part of the environment that I try to intrude lightly upon. There is one confirmed female bear roaming the Scenic slopes . . . last seen with her two yearlings in tow. A mile to the west there have been several other bear sightings, but 'mama' owns the Scenic slopes. The yearlings seem to still be around, kind of unusual. I can only guess that the poor summer berry season is changing some behavior. The springs area has certainly seen more than normal bear activity (including rooting and tree scratching right up at the springs, themselves). This time of year bears will be out more often, packing on the necessary calories for the upcoming winter hibernation. So seeing signs of bear is not unusual. Just something to be aware of. I often wait about on upper open slopes just in the hopes of spotting a bear down below and photographing it. No such luck today. Quiet and warm and nothing stirring.

Enjoying a quiet cup of coffee in the springs

As expected, I had the springs to myself and quickly immersed myself in the crystal-clear waters. The pools are clean and the waters hot . . . 105F in the pool I'm sitting, and a toasty-hot 115F in the pool behind me (the pool feeds come from two very different hot springs). Both are pH-high giving the water a slippery sensation that feels wonderful on the skin . . . a sensation that lasts for hours later. Scenic waters are also lithium-rich. I don't know what the benefit of lithium-absorption is through the skin (or even if there is a benefit) but it must be good for soaking seems to relax everyone who spends some time in the pools. There is a slight sulfur odor to the water, but that is barely noticeable. The silkiness of the water is due mainly to the high calcium mineral levels . . . much like what it would feel if you took a bath with a bunch of baking soda in the bath water. Feels great.

In retrospect, the late afternoon is probably the best time for a soak (short of winter soaking). You avoid the heat of the day to withstand the heat of the natural earth waters that much longer. Eventually, it is time to head back down but before I do that I set siphons to change out the water.

Cleaning the pools as nightfall descents

The pools are flow-through but unfortunately the design of these pools does not allow for recharging the water at the bottom of the pools. For one, they are three and a half feet deep and the bottom is where debris and algae will congregate. The water is also noticeably cooler on the bottom. A complete draining and recharge is a good practice and since it takes three to four hours to refill . . . best done at sunset when soakers are not supposed to be heading up there anyway. I've pissed off more than a few of the uninvited whom I politely inform the pools are empty and the site closed . . . turn around. They don't belong up there anyway . . . I do (part of my association with the owner).

The self-limiting siphons do their thing . . . an hour and a half to drain followed by three to four hours to refill. It's getting dark. Just enough light in the tree-confined trail to safely make my way back down to the clearcut without the headlight.

Sultan (in the foothills) had gotten up to 78F in mid-afternoon when I drove through. The evening was not cooling down much more with night. It was positively comfortable out there and not a breeze anywhere. Of course, soaking in a 115F hot spring for awhile guaranteed that my superheated, nude body would not feel a chill anytime soon.

Sidestepping down a steep trail in total darkness

Remember those bear prints earlier? Well, hiking in darkness can be an eerie experience. I have a headlamp but rarely use it except on the rougher footing sections. Usually I can see enough from the ambient starlight and rising moon to really enjoy a slow night-time stroll. Whatever is out there just beyond sight is not speculated upon. I know there is a mama and two yearlings somewhere out there but I'm making enough noise that I believe (foolishly or otherwise) that I'm safe. It's as if I've drawn a safe-zone cocoon around myself.

But look carefully at the picture above, behind me in the black and framed by upright vegetation. See the two symmetrical 'eyes'? When I first looked at the picture I freaked out. Some animal out there . . . the night eyes reflecting back the light of the camera's flash. I kept looking at it and looking and feeling a chill down my back 'cause whatever it was would have been right in my path of downward travel. Was that a bear? For the rest of the night I pondered my sanity for hiking in the dark like that.

The next day, looking at the photo again, a different explanation came to mind which somewhat set my mind at ease. Right where those 'eyes' were was directly inline with where my car was parked way down below . . . and the 'eyes' in the dark . . . well, they were nothing more the the reflection back of the headlights. Sometimes we have too vivid an imagination for what's good for us. Hiking in darkness definitely does that. If I'd seen those 'eyes' that night I don't think I would have really enjoyed the rest of the hike down . . . and I really did enjoy it. It brings to mind that when we recreate nude in nature we are basically dropping our barriers to let nature in . . . we are purposefully making ourselves vulnerable in the hope that we can participate. One cannot be much more vulnerable that hiking nude in total darkness and wilderness. One cannot feel much more alive either. It is a wonderfully life-appreciation experience. You absolutely feel alive!!!

Illuminated in my headlights as I close the gate and head home

Back at the base of FS850 I open the gate illuminated only in the headlights of my Honda. Hwy 2, nearby is quiet. I will drive back naked tonight because I just don't want to have to feel clothes on my skin. The garbage bags I will drop off at the Ranger Station as prearranged.

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