Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Gated Sanctuary, Centre for Healing

Recent posting in a naturist forum ...

The outdoor area of the hydrotherapy with hot and cool pools.

Hi Everyone!
We wanted to let everyone know about our new clothing optional day retreat spa, The Gated Sanctuary, Centre for Healing.  We are in a beautiful setting in the countryside on 6.5 private acres.  We specialize in massage therapy and hydrotherapy.  Our clothing optional hydrotherapy circuit includes two jetted hot pools and a cold plunge set outside on a private deck surrounded by old growth cedar trees.  We also have a eucalyptus steam room, showers, and lockers.  Please call us at (425) 334-6277 or visit us online at:
We have exclusive days for men, women, and also coed days.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration!
Danny and Frederick

Massage or hydrotherapy . . . or both!  The facilities look well-appointed and situated on a few acres of beautiful forested land in Snohomish County east of Lake Stevens.  I am particularly intrigued by the outside hydrotherapy pools and may just book myself for one of their all-day $35 sessions of soak and relax in what looks like very peaceful settings.

The Gated Sanctuary is a business offering clothing-optional opportunities.  These opportunities are few and far between.  Let's support these efforts by patronizing nude-friendly businesses.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A nice tidbit from Shirley:

I just viewed this photography art project and found it unbelievable.  I think you will enjoy it to.  It took me a while to load.  Then you click on the mans body and go through all 36 photos.  What a wonderful project.

This project uses the Javascript library called Slimebox to animate images of volunteers clothed and unclothed.  Nice job.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Why are you here?

Really. The hit counter shows 2.7 mil hits . . . the real-time visitor gadget in the sidebar shows people coming and going. It's intriguing. What are the visitors to this blog looking for.

According to the stats a large number are simply doing a search for anything nude . . . prurient interest.  Nothing erotic or sexy here.  They quickly move on.

Others seem to be curious based on the pattern of articles they follow in this blog.  Yet others seem to be searching for something specific.  I hope you find it.

A large majority, I suspect, are looking for validation . . . reasons to convince themselves to do it themselves.  I'd really like to know if there is anything I can help out with.  This blog is supposed to be an educational dialogue on the 'rightness' of naturism.  My main aim is to prod and convince as many people as possible to just try it.  I'd like to know if I'm succeeding.

Interest mainly as I sit at home wanting to get outside. So tell us your story by clicking the comments. Make it anonymous if you must but I am really interested as to why you are reading this blog . . . what you are looking for . . . what you hope to find.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cold Weather Nude Hiking (Repost)

Be Prepared When Nude Hiking in Cold Weather

Originally posted Thursday, January 17, 2008

A repost of this article for the upcoming cold weather die-hard . . . wish I was amongst you

36 degs F. and comfortable
I've gotten a few emails from readers wanting to get out there and hike nude in the snow. For most of us the mere thought of getting naked in near-freezing weather does not sound like very much fun, but I can assure you that the human body is very much capable of dealing with cold weather and the experience can actually be very comfortable, serene, invigorating and freeing. You just need to take some commonsense precautions. If that weren't enough to get you out there, trails and routes that are otherwise too popular or overrun by textiles and families in the warmer months are often all yours with nary another soul to bother you (heck, the lack of tracks in the snow tells you no one is on the trail ahead of you!)

Perhaps I should call it "nude backpacking" as opposed to nude hiking or free-hiking. During the warmer months on shorter day routes I prefer to hike with the least amount of covering possible (a hat, hiking shoes and a fanny pack slung over my shoulder . . . sometimes absolutely nothing at all.) I've been known to take all my clothes off, stack them neatly and wander off completely naked as the day I was born. One writer describes that type of exercise as an epiphany for the now, newly converted nudist. You will never want to hike in any other form . . . except when the weather requires it.

In winter (or any weather that is likely to turn inclement) you'd be foolish to hike without the essentials to insure your survival should things go wrong. One reader commented on the size of my backpack, asking how much it weighed. Well, it does look big on my back but if you pack judiciously a 'survival' pack could weigh in about 15-25 lbs which is easily carried in a well-balanced backpack. For me, the most cold-sensitive portion of my anatomy is my back . . . a cold chill down the spine can instantly send me into shivers. Since the pack sits slung over my back I tend to stay warm in that area.

"Clothing" for when you need to warm up

Look at what it takes to keep you warm, dry and comfortable while standing in the snow next to your car at the trail-head and that is what you need to carry with you in your backpack. I pack (after I undress, no need to duplicate):
  • Thermal, wicking undergarments (remember, no cotton; it gets wet or soaked from perspiration and you freeze),
  • Two extra pairs of wool socks and an extra pair of wicking undersocks,
  • Wool Sweater (tight-weave, thick fiber has the best insulating properties and insulates even when wet),
  • Snow pants (insulated, the type you'd wear skiing or snowboarding),
  • Your windproof, water-resistant outer-shell parka,
  • A second pair of snow gloves or mittens,
  • A small towel to dry yourself off with should you get wet.
I carry these items in a 45-gal 3mil black plastic trash bag (the contractor cleanup type) stuffed back into the pack to keep them dry. The trash bag can serve double-duty as something to sit on, on wet ground or snow, an emergency shelter or as an impromptu poncho by poking three holes in the bottom and pulling it down over your head and arms. I also carry a second trash bag in the pack. Pack your clothes near the top where you can get at them easily should the weather get ugly or you need to warm up. A little trick . . . activate one or two of those foot or hand warmer packets and fold your inner clothes around them to keep them nice and warm for when you do need them.


Food is an essential even if you are only going on a four-hour day hike. What would happen if you got lost or were forced to weather out a sudden snowstorm. I carry the following supplies in a separate ditty bag in the backpack:
  • 9- Top Ramen (easy to prepare comfort food to warm your soul, body and spirit),
  • 3 foil-sealed packages of tuna (for protein), one of the cellopaks of saltine crackers from the 4-pack boxes, an assortment of individual-serve mayo, relish and salt and pepper packs shamelessly stolen from BurgerKing,
  • 9 hot chocolate singles, baggies of instant coffee, creamer and sugar, a few plastic spoons and forks,
  • 4-5 large bars of chocolate; full of slow burning fats and sugar energy . . . the hikers friend and an essential when you are burning large amounts of calories to maintain your body temperature,
  • My whisper stove and a few canisters of butane (above 5,000 I would carry a multi-fuel stove as butane doesn't work very well at altitude),
  • My trusty GI-mess kit,
  • The fire kit: A good supply of waterproof, strike-anywhere matches (make your own, coat matches in paraffin and store in a waterproof container. Add a striker surface (emery board, small piece of sandpaper). Add a 30-hour candle or two, a magnesium striker and tube of fire-starter paste and you should be able to light a fire in pretty much any situation.
I don't expect to have to dig into the food bag on a day hike. It's there on the off-chance that I'm going to have to survive on my own for a couple of days . . . and yes, I have. I overextended myself on one hike into the Glacier Wilderness, running out of daylight to the point where I had to stop and make camp out of my emergency supplies. It can (and will) happen.

I always practice bear-protocol, even when any sensible bear should be hibernating in winter. The food bag has a 50 ft length of strong nylon cord inside that can be used to raise it up out of bear reach. The cord would come in handy for a lot of other uses, as well.

Paraphernalia in the Outer Pouches

In the outer pouches of my pack I carry the paraphernalia of modern society. The most important one a First Aid Kit. The first aid kit doesn't have to be elaborate but should have a few hiker's-essential supplies like moleskin for blisters, band-aids, ointments, gauze pads, some safety pins, etc. to cover the typical scrapes and bruises all hikers get. I carry the old style styptic pencil that shaver's use to use to stop minor scratches from bleeding. A small roll of duct tape in the pack along with a couple of emergency mylar space blankets cover many other potential repair and emergency situations.

I carry my cell phone, my camera and my GPS unit when I hike. When I hike with friends I also like to hike with a set of FRS radios to stay in contact. I also carry one of those neon headlamps for nighttime use. All of these require batteries. You should have a set of backup batteries for all items and you should try to keep these batteries protected from the cold. Cold drains a battery in half the normal time.

In another pouch I carry my maps and charts, compass and a few other essential items.

My Bear Deterrent spray and my hunting knife seem to permanently be on the belt of my backpack. I leave them there . . . never had to use the spray.

On the back rigging I carry a small, collapsing snow shovel.


While it may seem that with snow all around there is no need to carry a lot of water, dehydration is a serious problem for cold-weather hikers . . . and even more for nude, cold-weather hikers. Very cold air is also very dry air, as moisture condenses out with dropping temperature. That dry air sucks moisture from your skin and breath very efficiently. Constant hydration is very important. So three important points:
  1. Carry plenty of water and be prepared to obtain more. My backpack has a three-liter hydration bladder built into it, which is normal enough for the typical day hike. A hose snakes out of the top of the pack within easy reach to draw a sip on. I also carry a Sweetwater Filter to filter water from opportune sources along the trail. Try to avoid eating snow to hydrate yourself as all you're doing is lowering core body temperature to melt that snow. The hiker's rule-of-thumb for sufficient hydration is that if you are urinating clear you are sufficiently hydrated.
  2. Your exhalations are the largest source of dehydration in cold weather. Just look at your breath and see all that moisture condensing to a fog. You should avoid breathing through your mouth in cold weather . . . your nostrils are far more efficient at retaining body heat and moisture. Cold weather often induces a stuffy nose so carry decongestants in your first aid kit.
  3. Your skin transpires as much water out of your body in cold dry air, as it does trying to stay cool during hot weather. You lose both water and body heat. An answer I've found is that if your keep your skin moisturized ahead of time you will feel a whole lot warmer and less chill-bound (a sign that your skins is transpiring moisture). Take care of your skin and it will take care of you. Moisturizing your skin also makes it somewhat water-repellent . . . melted snow flakes and rain will ball and roll off your skin quickly without wetting large areas. Remember, water conducts heat away 50 times more efficiently than air.

    When I shower I liberally moisturize myself with simple ole baby oil . . . mineral oil. You can find fragrance-free baby oil if the aroma seems too childish . . . doesn't bother me. The treatment makes my skin feel alive and aware. Prior to a hike I rub in some of the leftover suntan lotion I always seem to accumulate in squeeze tubes in my car. The lotions have an efficient moisturized content as well as the UV-protection . . . which mustn't be forgotten, even in winter.

What this Nude Hiker typically wears on a cold weather hike

You've got your backpack set, you've reached a spot where you feel the desire to be free of the bulky clothes and hike naturally. Put as much attention to undressing and packing for need as you did for the rest of your supplies. Despite how careful I try to be, I have fallen through weakened snow-bridges on several occasions and appreciate being able to find dry clothing quickly in my backpack to warm up. Set your pack down where it won't get wet or tip over and carefully undress and fold your clothes in a logical order . . . the order you'd want to retrieve them in a hurry. The last item to come off should be your top . . . gives you a chance to acclimatize yourself to the sudden cold, which is a shock to everyone. You will quickly warm as your metabolism kicks into higher gear.

With my clothes packed safely away and the backpack slung over my back, this is what I'm typically wearing from top on down:
  • A knit wool cap (60% of your body heat is lost through the top of your head; more for balding people like me. That is a fact . . . wear a hat!),
  • Sunglasses on a retainer around my neck. Snow blindness is not fun! Get a good pair of mountain glasses,
  • The pack on my back. I typically do not belt mine as the weight is easy to carry and I enjoy the extra skin exposure,
  • My thermos in a water-resistant carrier bag looped over head and shoulder. I either fill mine with hot chocolate or coffee. Coffee is a no-no, as it's a diuretic but I love my coffee,
  • My digital camera attached to a very light-weight collapsing tripod slips into the side rigging of my backpack. With exposed metal surfaces, try coating with the plastic dip used for tools. Helps to prevent cold-contact discomfort when you have to handle those metal surfaces,
  • Gloves. Mine are thermal Thinsulate gloves which convert to mittens easily yet give the dexterity of a warm glove. Fingers, poorly supplied with blood, are quickly affected by the cold,
  • Two pairs of socks (an inner wicking pair under woolen hiking socks) keep your feet warm and dry, and resist blisters as the two pairs slide against each other rather than your feet,
  • A good pair of leather hiking boots . . . pre-worked in and treated with water-repellent. The tongue should be continuous to keep out snow and moisture. Choose hooks rather than eyelets for the top to make tying easier with cold hands. The boots should also have the heel catch for use with snowshoes,
  • Over the boots I wear calf-covering gaiters to keep snow off my lower legs and out of the top of my boots. The REI branded ones I bought have a reflective insulating inner surface that keep my lower legs and feet toasty warm,
  • Snowshoes (mine are Denali Evo Ascents). Don't skimp. These are what keep you up above the surface of the snow instead of post-holing to your crotch with every step. Choose snowshoes designed for your weight and the type of terrain you typically hike in (flat, alpine) . . . and for the weight of the snowshoes. Technical use of snowshoes is beyond this article. Learn to use them ahead of time . . . it's not that hard,
  • Poles. Forget expensive trekking poles unless they already have snow baskets. I use my ski poles.


Acclimatization to cold weather is a 'learned' response over time. The Inuit of the arctic have a markedly lower core body temperature to what we consider normal (95F to our 98.6F) and have tuned their basal metabolism and circulation to be as efficient as ours at this lower temperature. They can withstand cold temperature far more efficiently than us 'southerners' can.

The metabolic response to temperature changes is a complicated one. Simply stated, we, as warm-blooded beings, can only burn fuel (food) for cell energy within a narrow range of temperatures . . . the core body temperature. Our body will go to great biologic and physiological extremes to maintain that core body temperature. Understanding this metabolic response is important to knowing your limitations and the dangers hypothermia represent . . . especially to a nude hiker totally exposed to the elements. Acclimatization increases your metabolic efficiency and allows you to stay warm for longer periods of time. Remember, clothing does not warm your body . . . clothing simply reduces the loss of body heat. Any and all heat you experience (short of warming yourself by a fire or slipping into a hot spring pool) is generated by your metabolic processes burning the fuel (the food your eat) into energy. Know the signs of hypothermia and your limits:
  1. Your skin tightens upon exposure to cold; body hairs stand on end to more effectively trap an insulating layer of air next to the skin,
  2. Blood vessels initially dilate under the exposed skin surfaces, warming the skin and giving the rosy-cheeks syndrome. As more heat is lost, this process shuts down;
  3. Goosebumps forms and tiny, consciously-controllable shivering may commence;
  4. The skin becomes a pasty white . . . chalky in later stages; blood supply to shell skin areas and extremities is reduced. Shivering becomes more intense as the body fights to maintain the inner core temperature of the internal organs and the brain. You are entering Stage 1 Hypothermia;
  5. Arterial shunting reduces blood flow to the extremities, leading to cramping and uncoordinated use of leg and arm muscles. Shivering become continuous, tiring and intense. You are in Stage 2 Hypothermia and need to preserve the remaining body warmth before you lose the ability to act;
  6. Violent, uncontrollable shivering ceases as the body preserves even this expenditure of scarce energy to keep the heart, lungs and brain warm and functional. You are disoriented to the point of not even being aware of the cold, tired and wanting to sit down and sleep. You are in Stage 3 Hypothermia and in a medical emergency. Your body is losing it's ability to produce heat and will slip rapidly into a fatal coma.
Know the progression and signs. Shivering is normal . . . violent shivering that is impairing and beyond your control is a serious warning sign that you've passed your limits.

Acclimatization to Cold Weather

Acclimatization is the increasing of your body's heat-production and retention efficiency. As you slowly expose yourself to cold weather in longer increasing periods your body responds by burning foods more efficiently. As we go into spring and summer and are no longer exposed to these colder patterns, we acclimatize in the other direction, slowing the efficiency down to maintain that 'normal' 98.6F core body temperature. Vitamin B6 is an excellent supplement to increase the efficiency of our metabolism and I take it regularly in the colder months of the year as I'm working my naked body to withstand and enjoy nudity in the cold. Omega-3 fatty acids are not only good for your cholesterol levels but induce a high level of cold resistance. Get them through eating cold-water fish like salmon or taking flax seed oil capsules.

The key is to acclimatize over time. Do not shock your system by heading out on a long nude snow hike without some period of adjustment to your system.

When exposing you body to cold weather . . . particularly when you must be able to keep yourself warm without the insulating-crutch of clothing . . . eat easily digested foods such as carbohydrates and sugars; adding smaller amounts of fat and protein to balance the digestive load. Digestion consumes up to 30% of all available energy after a large meal. That's energy not available to keep you warm. Avoid large and heavy meals full of protein and fats immediately prior to a hiking expenditure. Carb-load the night before and keep your trail eating to small and frequent snacks.
  • Sugars are the high-octane fuels and produce a quick burst of energy and a falloff just a quickly.
  • Carbs are more complicated sugars (starches and such) that burn slower and over an extended period. Carbs are the basic sources of energy to fuel metabolism.
  • Fats (such as chocolate) are an excellent source of stored energy that can be called on as the body needs. However, if you don't use fats, guess where they go? Don't go overboard on fats as a high-fat diet takes weeks to adapt to and can lead to abdominal stress; something you don't need on the trail. However, fat reserves within the cells of our body are very important both during the acclimatization phase and when the body calls on energy reserves to bolster core temperatures and maintain glucose levels.
  • Proteins are the structural components for the body. However, in need, proteins are metabolized (burned) for heat energy because they produce a large amount of heat. However, they are difficult to digest and leave many undesired byproducts when burned for fuel . . . such as salts which will lead to increased urination and dehydration.

Control heat loss at the vulnerable points. The head, which loses 60% of all body heat through the scalp (the seat of our intelligence is in the brain and the brain requires a huge amount of energy to function.) Likewise, wear good boots to keep your feet warm and wear gloves. The under-supplied toes and fingers quickly go numb and useless in cold weather.

My back is decidedly sensitive to a cold-shiver, and I suspect that's the case with most of us. Cover your back in some manner (coat slung over the shoulders, backpack, in my case). Our nipples (in both men and woman) suffer painfully when it really gets cold. Likewise the genitalia, particularly men, will feel the painfully numbing cold eventually. Recognize what's happening and don't suffer needlessly. The layering principle applies to nude hikers as well . . . except we might need to put on that first layer as needed.

It is often said that women, with typically thicker subcutaneous fat layers, are better able to withstand the effects of cold weather . . . and that makes sense as adipose fat is a great insulator. You only need look to the ability of marine mammals with their thick blubber to withstand the numbingly frigid waters of the Arctic. But what I've noticed is that the same insulating nature of adipose has a rebound effect . . . those same layers of fat become cold reservoirs and resist warming up or letting external heat through after a hike. I noted that effect several years ago after a challenging nude snow hike that I pushed despite the winds and snow turning ugly. Once back in my car with the heat going full blast, much of my body quickly warmed up . . . except the areas where adipose fat underlay my abdomen and 'love-handles' (yeah, I got lazy that year and let my spare-tire get ahead of me.) Those areas of my body stayed icily-cold for the next few hours despite clothing, heat and a general rewarming of the rest of me. The fat was a great insulator but insulation works both ways! The upshot, some body fat is okay but a lot of adipose can become a liability if you push the limits of your cold exposure.

A note on frostbite . . . can't get it unless the ambient air or wind-chill temperature is below freezing. The laws of thermodynamics plainly state that you can not reduce the temperature of an object below the ambient environment . . . except under certain, unique circumstances . . . supercooling. Supercooling happens under high wind, high humidity conditions. Don't hike nude in such conditions . . . please. Even I'm not that stupid and will put on clothes when the wind picks up much beyond 5-10 mph. When it is below freezing your extremities (particularly toes and fingers, and since we are nude, the nipples and genitalia) are very susceptible to damaging frostbite. Watch for painful, chalky white skin progressing into a lack of pain as frostbite happens. Don't let it get this far!

Last Thoughts

Did I forget anything? I'm sure I have.

While I enjoy endless roaming around the mountains nude in the balmier months, taking off my clothes in a wide-open and pristine snowfield and hiking free is a unique and almost spiritual experience. Also, while I consider hiking nude in the snow a personal challenge, I temper it with the realization that I have to be aware of how my body is responding. But what else is a nudist good for than being aware of his or her body interaction with the environment. We nude hikers know how sublime the experience is . . .

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Status

"I had to check out your hiking blog to see whether you were still alive or not.  Glad you're still alive." from a personal email.

Really, I am sorry.  I used to post religiously to my blogs because there is a HUGE amount of joy just simply sharing what I experience when I'm out there.  I feel kind of guilty that I started this and now I just don't have the energy or time to keep it up.  But the Nude Hiking blog and the Scenic Blog are never far from my mind.

So, my status.  Complications from the leukemia took a turn for the worse over the last couple of weeks with an inflamed spleen (the 'arbiter' of cell population in the blood stream).  The white blood cell count has soared above 50,000 with a large percentage of 'blasts' or immature WB cells.  This takes a toll on my energy and, of course, the spleen, which has to filter out all that junk.  The result, inflammation and the potential that I may have to undergo a splenectomy.  With my father, this was the watershed event between chronic and acute myelogenous leukemia.  I'm all too aware that he lasted a mere two weeks in the hospital when his leukemia went into the acute phase.

The next week or so will tell if this latest round has WBCs under control and whether my spleen will recover.  For now, I'm back at home under enforced bed rest and bored right out of my mind.

Update Dec 1st:  I get to keep my spleen (for now) and can wander outside as soon as I feel more energy and stamina.  I think they meant wander up to the corner espresso hangout but I may interpret it to mean checking out the snow in the mountains (if you know what I mean . . . lol).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Canada: Naked hiker cleared

Dropped charges may set precedent for naturists


The law has tried to stop an Orillia man from walking naked. But it failed.

"It's like total freedom. You can just feel the breeze, the sun, unless you try it you have no idea what it feels like," says the 60-year-old free-hiker who frequents a local recreational trail.

"Other naturists are still fearful of being in the general public on out of the way trails because of the fact they think they're going to get convicted."

On Monday, the man who requested anonymity, went to trial in an Orillia court charged with an indecent act.
Two off-duty police officers witnessed him walking naked on the Uhthoff Trail in Severn Township in September 2009.
The charges were dismissed.

Gleb Bazov, a Toronto-based lawyer who represents the man, believes the decision sets an important precedent.
"It is a landmark case in the sense that the law has been applied to nudists and naturists. Now there is a clear pronouncement that a naturist is not engaging in an indecent act."

The man was initially also charged with nudity in a public place, but that was withdrawn in September of this year.
The Crown did not receive consent from the Attorney General to commence proceedings, which is required on a nudity charge.
The indecent act charge was dismissed because what the man was doing was not harmful, Bazov said.
Acts that would constitute this charge are public masturbation, luring for sexual act, luring children and flashers, he noted.

"They might not think it's appropriate, or they might think it's not moral, but it's not indecent in the sense that it causes anybody any harm."

Charlene Ewanchuk disagrees.

Her home on Thorburn Road backs onto the Uhthoff Trail. She has called police on the "naked man" several times.
"I find it offensive. If I catch him going by my house, I'll call the cops."

One day while travelling the trail with her children, now aged 10 and 14, they came across the man.

"Turn your head the opposite way and just go by," Ewanchuk told her children. "Don't look, don't talk to him, just go by."
Ewanchuk questions why Orillian walks in Severn Township.

"If it's so acceptable why isn't he doing it in downtown Orillia? Why does it have to be out here?"

Severn Township Mayor Phil Sled says the township has received complaints about the man "a few times."

"It's more shock than anything that he would be out there exposing himself in that way."

The township wrote a letter to the man in November 2006 "prohibiting" him from using the Uhthoff Trail while "improperly clothed."

"The Uhthoff Trail is used for recreational purposes only and to provide a benefit to all users young and old alike," the letter states.

"If the courts can't charge him, I guess he's within his (rights.) Personally, I don't think it's appropriate," Sled said.

The man requested anonymity to protect the reputation of his family members.
He has two grown children, who live in the area, disapprove of his lifestyle.
"I understand (their opinion) but I don't agree with them. I don't force myself lifestyle on them."
His two sisters, who also live here, are very bothered by his activity.
"They are frightened to death of naturism in any sort. Very strict upbringing."
Once a very self-conscious man, he became curious about naturism and decided to visit a nudist resort.
"(The resort) changed my whole life, it gave me my life back. I wish I had tried it many, many years ago."
He has been a naturist for 10 years. 
The man wanted to share his story with the public to let other naturists know they are "well within their rights."

Having a good understanding of the law, he would like to start a freehiker group in Orillia.

"I want to get across to naturists that they don't have to fear being out in the public."

Stéphane Deschênes, director of the Federation of Canadian Naturists, says naturists are just embracing their "natural self."

"We, as a society, have a real phobia about our own body. We are so incredibly uncomfortable that we find our own image embarrassing, shameful and offensive."

Deschênes is also the owner of Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park, a year-round naturist park and campground near Toronto.

The park has 1,500 day visitors this season and 4,180 overnight visits. Deschênes says there are at least two families in the Orillia area who attend the camp.

Deschênes says most naturists prefer to practise their lifestyle only in nudists resorts.

"They are aware that others will take great exception to their body for whatever reason. Social pressure is far more powerful than any law."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Happy Halloween

Maybe you'll see me . . . maybe you won't.  This nude hiker is rarely seen, even in the wilds.  But I'm harmless (LOL).
Seriously, though.  I'm not out there to be seen.  I'm out there to enjoy nature in the most comfortable, enjoyable way possible.  That few ever see me is just a testament to the way I hike . . . quietly and with respect for others. Share the trail with us . . .  Better yet, join in and hike nude.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Nudism Central . . . what a pitiful disappointment!

Once promoted as clean, wholesome with no
adult-oriented content is now a sham

I have a few banners in the sidebar of this blog . . . linking to sites I believe advance the understanding of nudism and naturism.  Some time ago I was asked to place a link or banner to Nudism Central . . . advertised as completely free of any adult-oriented content (i.e. porn).  Checking out the site it seemed content was appropriate, so I place their banner in the sidebar as an option for those seeking nudist information.

On a lark today I clicked that banner and was taken to the site.  What used to be a promising start has almost completely turned into a nudist dating site . . . the questions asked could not be interpreted otherwise.  You have to sign up (supposedly free but I didn't continue through) and have to answer questions like "I am looking for ..."  'Totally free to place profile' is a typical piece of bait on these dating sites.  In order to meet a match I assume you'd have to pay money.  A dating site!

Okay.  Fine.  Not my cup of tea.  Not something I really wanted to promote on my blog.

I wondered if there was any useful nudist content on this site so clicked on the browse link at the top . . . and was taken to NudismTravelNetwork . . . which has absolutely nothing to do with nudism.  The entry page states quite explicitly :  "18+ WARNING:  This is a 100%  sex site" . . . and yes, it is.

So . . . their banner is gone.  NudismCentral has gone commercial, intrusive and a promoter of pornography.  Goodbye ...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Photographic Composition . . . a la' Nude

Feel free to Download the eBook of this post, 2.5M, pdf format for easy reading. Freely re-distributable under the Creative Commons License (Attrib NC ND)

"If you, an artist, the one who cannot manage figures, 

you look like an orator who cannot manage words." 

Leonardo da Vinci

A photograph is a story.  It is intended to impart information . . . experiences . . . emotive feelings.  Nude photography could be generalized into that which is intended to evoke a sexual response (pornography) or that which depicts the nude human body in our everyday natural environment (what I call 'simple nudity' . . . sharing the nudist lifestyle through my photographic journeys).

Like a story . . . a collection of words and sentences strung together in some coherent form . . . a photographic image is a collection of visual elements that convey what your eyes see.  It is the balance and composition of your image that determines the first impression viewers have of your photos.   Good composition draws your viewers eyes (and attention) to certain parts of the image.  Balance assures that the viewer's attention is not drawn away by extraneous details.

Centrally placed subjects tend to focus a viewer's attention on the middle of the image. Unfortunately, once a viewer's attention is on the middle, it usually remains there. As a result, a picture of this type will tend to feel flat and static to the viewer. However, with just a subtle shift of the focal point toward one of the intersections defined by the Rule of Thirds (discussed below), you can strengthen your image and cause the viewer's eye to move more freely around the image.

Good composition places the important elements off-center

"Rules" of composition are based on ratios almost always seen in nature.  Leonardo da Vinci recognized these ratios as did Michelangelo . . . and both applied them in their awe-inspiring works of art.  This same symmetry and ratio is what makes the human form pleasing to the eye (look at the statue of David and ask yourself why it draws you).  Artists and photographers have instinctively applied and extended these ratios to their works with great viewer satisfaction since ancient times.

This short tutorial will focus on a few simple "rules" of composition that, for the most part, become instinctive in your future picture-taking once you recognize how composition affects a viewer's impression.

The Rule of Thirds
"One third is important, one third continues, the last third places"
Banged Up Shins

The objective of the Rule of Thirds is to stop the subject(s) and areas of interest from bisecting the image, by placing them near one of the lines that would divide the image into three equal columns or rows . . . ideally near the intersection of those lines.  The Rule of Thirds is based on the tendency of the viewer's eyes to be initially be drawn about two-thirds of the way up whatever they are viewing (be it a page of type, an oil painting or a photograph.  Our minds will divide and ingest by thirds, initially focusing two-thirds of the way up and then internally scanning the other elements in steps of thirds over the image.  The center of any image is the least important part unless other elements draw attention and focus there (as we'll see later.)

If we mentally cast a grid of thirds over a scene (my camera makes this easy as I can call up a grid in the viewfinder), we want to compose the important parts of our image at the intersections of the grid lines or on the grid lines, themselves.  In the image below, my head is two-thirds of the way up the image at the intersection of two grid lines.  The viewer's focus and attention are automatically going to be drawn to my head and then mentally form a response in relation to all the other elements in the image using that ratio of thirds.

Rule of Thirds
Note that a pleasing depiction of the human body in relation to the background will conform to the ratio of thirds.  Attention is drawn to the head at two-thirds of the way up.  The third above places the subject (myself).  The next third is the torso and the final continues and completes with the legs.  The axis of the body is also on a grid line, reinforcing the importance of the main subject  . . . in this case, I wanted to depict myself nude next to the stump of an old, massive and long-gone tree.

Placement of elements on the horizontal grid lines works well for horizons . . . in this case, the horizon beyond is all in the upper third . . . as is the majority of the tree stump.  The mind's eye is taken on a journey from the main subject and placed it in relation to the other important elements in the image.

So the Rule of Thirds in utter simplicity:  place your main subject off-center!

The Rule of Diagonals

Elements of your image trending diagonal (like a road or river . . . perhaps a line of trees) tend to lend energy to the imagery.  The image becomes more dynamic because the viewer is expecting action of some sort to go on.
Rule of Diagonals

Using the same image as before, the main subject is balanced by the Rule of Thirds.  But this image also contains a number of diagonals that impart a sense of tension in the image.  That tension is the terrain and there is an implied dynamism between nude hiker and steep slope.  Will he fall . . . or will he stay in place (note the set of the trekking poles reinforcing perceptions)?

To be effective, diagonals, when extended to the image edge, should be within 1/6 of the image corners (as shown in the image above.)  The dominant diagonal in this image is the slope of the large block of granite upon which the tree stump (and myself) hold against gravity.  My left knee is also crooked, bringing the thigh into alignment with the main diagonal.  The main subject, myself, is within one-sixth distance of a center diagonal.

Diverging and Leading Diagonals

Diverging Diagonals imply inclusion:  The tilt of the subject along with
 the lines of the boulders  frame the river beyond, including them
with the main subject

Leading Diagonals:  In this image, the subject (set back) is implied to be moving
 across the snowfield by the diagonal line of footprints leading back to the viewer.

To add dynamism to your images, place your subjects along some naturally-occurring diagonal.  Diagonals . . . particularly if they include the main subject . . . work really well if they lead to one of the corners of the image . . . a satisfying arrangement for the viewer's mind. (For another slant, take a look at the construction of the Golden Triangle further down to get an idea of the psychological processes that are operating here with diagonals.)

Lines of Perspective and Converging Diagonals

Diagonals impart action in an image.  Converging diagonals can also imply direction and perspective . . . a go hither implication.

Lines of Perspective

In this image the main subject's head (me, of course) is right at the intersection of two Golden Section lines (described in the next section).  These intersections, derived from the Golden Section ratio, assure attention from the viewer.  There is a slight twist of the torso and shoulders in the direction I am traveling.  I wanted to impart somewhat of a journey on ahead in pleasing surroundings.  Converging diagonals toward the open space of the sky give perspective and an implication of 'that's where I'm going'.  The diagonals come from the lines of the path edges and flow naturally to the far distance.  Tall trees in the upper portion of the image frame the sky of the horizon and the route beyond.

Look for these naturally-occurring lines in your images to reinforce the story you are telling.  Shift camera position slightly if necessary to use converging lines in the terrain to add perspective to your image.

The Golden Section
"A mathematical proportion where the ratio between a small section and a larger section is equal to the ratio between the larger section and both sections put together, approximately 1.6180339887..."

Certain points in a picture's composition automatically attract the viewer's attention.  Similarly, many natural and man-made objects with certain proportions (whether by chance or design) automatically please us.  Leonardo da Vinci investigated the principle that underlies our notions of beauty and harmony and called it the Golden Section.

The Golden Section (or Golden Mean) is the basis of the Rule of Thirds . . . the later being a simplification and easier to implement.  The intersection points for the Golden Section are 3/8s in and 3/8s up and down in the image.  I'll leave it up to you how to figure out the sweet spots when you're out on the field trying to compose an image.  Suffice it to say, the resulting grid looks as it does in the image below.  Points where lines intersect automatically draw attention . . . in this case, directly to the image of myself.

The Golden Section
Composition using the Golden Section ratio is difficult in the field but can be of considerable use after-the-case when cropping to bring the important parts of an image onto an nexus (or intersection point).  In the image above, there is implication of movement forward and to the right (raised foot taking a step).  The shadow line on the grass in the background also forms a diagonal, further reinforcing a perception of movement.  The effect is lost in the original image as objects to the right disrupt the diagonals and take away the dynamism of the image.  Cropping the image to remove extraneous detail moves the subject out of the Rule of Thirds and closer to the center of the image.  However, with a little judicious placement of the subject on a Golden Section nexus, balance is restored to the image.

Addendum:  To emphasize just how powerful the Golden Section intersections are, several readers have noted that their viewing of the above image seemed to unconsciously bring their initial attention to the area of my right hip.  I tried this on a few nudity-accepting acquaintances minus the grid and asked them, in all honesty, what part of my body did they seem to be drawn.  Mind you, these are people who have seen me nude before so there is no snapping of the viewer's attention to the obvious details of my nudity.  Five of five all stated the snap-response was to focus on the area near my right hip for a briefest moment, looking for something prominent there before correcting slightly upwards. The nexus of two Golden Section lines had drawn all five automatically.  Two of my unwitting test subjects also commented on the small log to the left, even though it was insignificant in the scheme of things . . . except that it also sits near an intersection of lines.

The eyes are drawn away  from the subject to the specks of light to the left
in the darkness  . . . a Golden Section intersection.   Though unintentional
 at the time, one wonders if those specks are some wild animal waiting
for dinner . . . an uneasy prospect!
The image above has the supposedly main subject (me) right in the center of the image . . . right where I just told you not to place your main subject.  So what's happening here?  Why do I include it?

Actually, the compositional elements of this image are complex.  Common sense tells us the nude hiker in the center must be the main subject (and that was the intention when I took the picture).  Serendipity at work.  There are some diagonals (the footpath and the darkness-bracketing line of the small tree) that enclose and direct attention.  There is also the stark contrast between flash-lit foreground and absolute darkness that further tell us who (or what) the main subject should be.  Yet our attention is not fully on the nude hiker.  It strays somewhat uneasily to the darkness.  Why?  Spend a little time just looking at the image.  Where do your eyes unconsciously go?  I'm willing to bet it's that lone tall plant sticking up into the darkness on the left.  And then your eyes search for meaning and latch onto the unusual . . . the set of what looks likes eyes out there.

This is a good example of the power of the Golden Section rule to grab and hold our attention.  The plant is right smack dab on the intersection of two of those lines.  Anything at those nexus points is going to grab the viewer's attention and this is what is happening here.

The Golden Triangle

The Golden Triangle adds an element of dynamism to the Golden Section rule by running diagonals to the intersecting points.  An offshoot of the Golden Section, the nexus points primarily attract the viewer's attention while the diagonals from those points extend attention along them.

The image below of me skinny-dipping in the Skykomish River is complicated by a lot of things taking place . . . cluttered.  My face (as well as my left hand) are right on the intersections of Golden Section Lines and thus, automatically attract attention.  But look at where the diagonals of a Golden Triangle flow . . . down my arms, framing my water-treading body in the lower triangle.  Attention is focused.  The final diagonal brings the foaming water to the right into harmony with the rest of the image.

The Golden Triangle

Constructing the Golden Triangle
.... from the Golden Section

Composition in the Field

It's obvious I take most of the images of myself using a self-timer.  This gives me time to frame the image and consider where I want to be for best composition.  I look through that viewfinder for lines and symmetry and mentally place myself where I think the Rule of Thirds will emphasize how I fit into the surroundings.

One of the things I try to do when composing an image, is to try to provide scale for the viewer to get an idea from the limited field of view in a photographic image . . . what the eyes are seeing.  An image is two-dimensional, yet what is being experienced is a three-dimensional panorama.  We must provide cues to the majestic scale of the forests and mountains to truly capture them.  The best way is to include yourself in the image not only to vet that participation but to also to give the viewer scale and enhance a 3D effect.

My presence gives scale and depth to the trees
on this low knoll overlooking Deception Creek

Another way to give the viewer an idea of the scale of the scenery is to use atmospheric cues such as fog.

The viewer's mind is always intrigued with figuring out what lays just beyond perception.  In the image above the fog does a remarkable amount of obscuring the trees in the upper left.  Our minds are going to be trying to pierce that veil trying to see through the fog . . . what does lay beyond?  Try it.  I challenge any reader to not honestly admit that they did not spend any time at all trying to pick out details in the background.

There is also an interplay of hard and soft contrasts in this image with the delineating line a diagonal crossing the image behind the main subject . . . the lone leafless tree in the center.  My presence provides the necessary scale and a contrast in color to make this image a keeper.

Try to avoid thinking of it as portrait photography because it isn't.  You are participating in nature and your images should show that participation.  You are, after all, trying to tell a story.

Final Thoughts 

  • There should be a center of interest or focus in the work, to prevent it becoming a pattern in itself;
  • The direction followed by the viewer's eye should lead the viewer's gaze around all elements in the work before leading out of the picture;
  • The subject should not be facing out of the image;
  • A moving subject should have space in front;
  • Exact bisections of the picture space should be avoided;
  • Small, high contrast, elements have as much impact as larger, duller elements;
  • The prominent subject should be off-center, unless a symmetrical or formal composition is desired, and can be balanced by smaller satellite elements
  • The horizon line should not divide the image in two equal parts but be positioned to emphasize either the sky or ground; showing more sky if it is of clouds, sun rise/set, and more ground if a landscape

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Friday, October 8, 2010

Lower Lewis Creek, a State Park and Heybrook Lookout

Where Lewis Creek Meets the North Fork and a Delightful Little Park

Forks of the Sky State Park (in Trust)
Normally I don't go nude in State Parks because there is a prohibition against nudity in Washington State Parks.  State Parks also tend to be heavily used by the public.  However, there are some exceptions and a good example is the spate of acquisitions of private land by the state in the wake of record flooding in recent years.  This has led to a number of small-acreage areas being held in trust for further development.  They are relatively unknown, off the beaten path and lacking the amenities that typically attract the public.  The perfect opportunity for a short nude stroll in nature.

Forks of the Sky (where the North Fork and the South Fork of the Skykomish River come together near Index, WA) is one of those small acquisitions.  The ten or so acres used to be private property until the North Fork wiped out a major portion of the riverbank, along with cabins.  The state purchased the distressed property and then promptly forgot about it.  I'd seen the old, rusted sign and gate before but paid little attention . . . until I saw the new sign in the image above.  I wondered.

A week later I stopped by the small pullout on the Index-Galena Road.  No one else parked nearby.  Nude hiking time!  The old road down the the former cabin site is still there . . . grassy-green overgrown.  Years ago I'd wandered down that road out of curiosity . . . turning back after coming across a No Trespassing sign in sight of the small riverside cabin.  Now all that is gone as I come across a bridge that I recall from memory.

Across an old wooden bridge
The stroll is absolutely peaceful amid all the spaced trees draped in thick Cascadian moss.  The county road is not that far behind me but I doubt I would have heard much road noise from an infrequent passing car.  All I can hear is the twittering of leaves and critters going about their business in the undergrowth.  I'm impressed at how open and level the area is.

Across another bridge, this one a footbridge over a small streamlet of Lewis Creek . . . and soon I'm at the original cabin site, a wide area of low bluff open to the river.  Someone (I doubt the state) has carried in and put together a very nice picnic table.

On the original cabin site
The hike in had been short . . . ten minutes at most.  But I know this can't be all . . . so it's off to search for side trails and I soon find them . . . again, someone has gone to a lot of time and effort to improve the network of level, maintained trails in this potential park.  Originally I wondered if the paths might be loop trails and so proceeded with my senses spread out.  I tend to avoid loop trails or trails that have entrances at both ends.  Eventually it becomes obvious that this is not the case . . . the trails parallel the river north, and there is nothing north of this area but thick forest and creek bed wetlands . . .  until a sharp bend in the river a mile or so to the north.

Well-maintained, rock-lined trails and easy river access
This set-aside park land is not very big.  Within a short distance the trail becomes rougher and peters out to nothing but a mass of brambles and gullies that no nude hiker would want to traverse (except maybe me . . . but not today).  

There is a foot-worn earthen ramp leading down onto the river-rock boulders of the North Fork . . . the floodplain particularly wide here.  I'm still well short of that sharp bend in the river and visibility from the paved county road and an oft-used camping area.  I head out into sunshine and open air.  The occasional beer can or potato chip bag attests to others going on this way at other times.  But not today.  I have the open flats of the river bed to myself.

Onto the floodplain of the North Fork
I particularly like hiking in the open . . . being slightly claustrophobic.  Open spaces around me is what I crave.  River beds just naturally attract me and the river bed of the North Fork of the Skykomish (or more accurately, the floodplain caused by the seasonal rains and snowpack melt) is one of my favorite places to hike nude.  For the most part, the North Fork has little activity along its' bank until it meets up with the South Fork at Index.  A few cabins, but little of anything else to worry someone about being seen.

This river has a history of flooding wide in its' course . . . and during low water months that leaves lots of room to hike over smooth-water-worn boulders and numerous patches of givable sand to claim as your own personal beach.  But most of all . . . despite its' openness, there is a real sense of privacy out there.  My meanderings take me from the river's slow summer babbling, over multi-ton boulders worn baby-skin smooth to the forest edges . . . and back.  No where in particular . . .

Coming down the middle of the floodplain, I eventually realize that I've come just enough around a ninety-degree bend in the river to be visible to anyone travelling the Index-Galena Road in the distance.  The movement of a lone car heading north on that road catches my attention.  My valued privacy is now gone.

The campsite I'd mentioned earlier is on a twenty-foot high crumbling bluff just around that bend.  I head toward the inside of the bend and spot a very worn trail leading in.  Not sure if anyone is using the campsites but they've always been a favorite stopping off point in the past.  I've just never approached them from this direction before . . . and I'm still not sure if I can.  But we will see.  Up the banks, over a few downed trees and into the brush.

Enough scrambling and trail-making to find a back way into the
campsite.  Back to the open spaces of the river.
Unfortunately I didn't make it far in before I heard the unmistakable sounds of people having a good time just beyond the impenetrable barrier of intertwined brush and sharp alder branches.  Guess a stop at that campsite is out of the question.  Besides, those brittle, sharp twigs have already scratched up enough of my body.  Back to the river and safer, open spaces.

My own, private, wind-screened sandy beach
Coming back down the river I stick to the inside, closer to the banks and following a sandy, deep gorge created at some time by seasonal flooding, but now dry.  Some scrambling getting over flotsam and water-torn logs the diameter of city buses for another of my favorite activities . . . walking the downed tree trunks.  It's in these flood-eroded gorges that I find the most sand and sunning opportunities.  Following a dry-water course outward to the main channel I come across a really nice, deep patch of sand almost in the middle . . . and it's screened by a line of young alder saplings, almost as if by design.  A natural windbreak and privacy screen.  How can I resist not taking a break?  Plop down and off with the shoes for a nice nap.  It's quite some time before I decide I've dawdled enough.   This visit to a potential State Park was meant only to be a quick foray.  The main goal was to hike the road beside the upper Lewis Creek on up to Heybrook Ridge.  Back onto the well-maintained paths in the forest.

Barefoot in the Park
Hiking nude is freeing . . . natural . . . wonderful.  Hiking nude without even your shoes is . . . sublime.  I get few opportunities to do it barefoot in the Cascades . . . footwear almost always being a necessity to protect the feet.  Hiking back to my car with my shoes slung over my shoulders, the feel of years of overburden giving just so under the soles of my feet can only be described as sensuous.  Purists call it 'free-hiking' and it is definitely that.  Having to put my shoes back on was almost as if I was putting clothes back on.  Was I still nude?

Crossing that last footbridge a friendly dog came trotting on up . . . followed a moment later, before I could unsling and search for cover . . . by it's owner, a middle-aged lady seemingly out of place smoking a cigarette and carrying a beer amongst such serenity.  She kind of chuckled as she stood aside to let me pass and then we exchanged pleasantries on how nice this place was while her dog let me scratch him behind the ears.  All the time she kept on smoking away and sipping beer.  No backpack . . . just someone appearing out of nowhere.  Weird.  If  a naked man in the wild bothered her she didn't show any indication . . . which was a good sign and definitely gratifying.  Back at my car I continued to wonder where she had come from because there were no cars parked along the road for as far as I could see.  It was time to head a half mile down the road to the Lewis Creek trailhead.

Lewis Creek and on up to Heybrook Ridge and the Lookout Tower

Lewis Creek is a straightforward hike for me.  I've done it dozens of times because the road is gated, and the route in an easy-enough grade to really be enjoyable in it's solitude.  In winter this is a great place to showshoe, nude or otherwise.

For the most part it follows Lewis Creek in it's lower sections before switchbacking and climbing south onto Heybrook Ridge.  Heybrook Ridge overlooks Hwy 2 and the Skykomish River just east of Index.  The highlight of any trip onto Heybrook is a visit to the top of a decommissioned fire lookout tower.  The standard route up is via a mile and a half trail from Hwy 2 . . . my back route is almost three miles of time to myself.   Eventually you come onto the ridge, intersecting the FS road that used to service the tower (and is now a little-used logging road from the town of Baring further east on Hwy 2.

A photo moment approaching the ridge...
Serendipity sometimes gives the best results.  At first I was going to toss this image, as it wasn't what I intended.  Here I am adjusting the camera and the timer goes off too soon (or more likely I wasn't paying attention).  But I actually like this composition and proportions.  Goes to show . . . sometimes just leave it alone.

Just beyond the point above the road tees with the right heading to the lookout tower.  Once on the other dirt road I tread quietly because I never know if hikers have been coming up to the tower from the more traditional side of the ridge.  Sometimes they wander off to do some exploring of their own, and Heybrook is popular.  Today, it wasn't.

The Fire Lookout Tower atop Heybrook Ridge
While this Lookout Tower has been decommissioned for years (with the upper enclosure boarded and locked) the lower observation platform is open and accessible to the public.  Sturdy stairs safely take the visitor to the top were they can gaze out over miles of the Skykomish River Valley and especially the peaks of Mount Index and Persis, nearby.

The view from the top
(and the traditional trail below)
Once at the top of the lookout tower you pretty much can see and know everything that is happening around you.  My little nude platform . . . I'll see anyone approaching a very long time before they'll have any idea I'm up there staring down on them . . . let alone they know I'm nude.  Kind of empowering and relaxing at the same time.  You want to linger there and I've often thought 'what a great place to camp out overnight'.

No claustrophobia here
Eventually you have to give up the castle on the hill and head back down before nightfall . . . of course, timing it to milk the most of the daylight nude.

The appropriate ending of any hike is, of course,
a long soak in the hot springs

A photo album with more pics from this hike is here:

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