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...

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