Saturday, April 21, 2012

Use High Ground to Your Advantage

One of the greatest boons of hiking nude in the Cascade Mountains (or anywhere, for that matter) is that you develop an increased awareness of your surroundings and what is going on. Naturists and nudists immerse themselves into their surroundings much more so than the typical, destination-oriented hiker. We drink the tactile sensations of sunlight, breeze, etc. impinging on the greater-exposed surface of our skin . . . the largest sense organ by far, we smell much more acutely as we synthesize everything in our environment to add to the experience, we hear not just the surroundings but a cacophony of clues to guide us. And our eyes become exquisitely acute . . . sensitive to the slightest movement.

Not to say that this is anything unique to nudists . . . I've just found that my senses are much more acute and encompassing when I'm open and have imbued essentially part of the environment I'm within. I attribute this continuous epiphany to hiking nude. Our senses of the environment are simply much more receiving and open.

Of course, part of this increased awareness is due to our need to co-inhabit the wilderness with those who may take exception to our hiking nude (the paranoia factor) . . . something that is always in the back of our mind when we strip down nude with the knowledge that we just may encounter other hikers on the trail. Though I espouse a 'grin and bare it' attitude in general . . . if I do have advance knowledge of approaching hikers I will often don shorts out of respect for potential negative attitudes (unless I am really deep in the wilderness where few care one way or another).

Using the high ground to your advantage is one way to keep yourself involved in what is happening around you. Humans have exquisite binocular vision but unfortunately mentally 'see' in the horizontal . . . a result of our evolutionary development from a foraging species. There is one climaxing scene to the original Star Trek movie where the Enterprise and the ship commanded by Khan are waging battle in a sensor-inpenetrable gas nebulae. Khan is winning, the Enterprise already crippled  . . . Khan hot on Kirk's trail. Kirk is unable to shake Khan. But Khan is a twentieth-century man used to waging battle on a planetary surface . . . two dimensional. Kirk, on the other hand, 'flies' star ships in outer space, a three-dimensional environment. In the blind environment of that nebulae he moves the Enterprise vertical and out of the perception of his pursuer. Khan simply cannot envision anything but what is directly in front of him. He blazes blindly ahead only to have the Enterprise suddenly drop back down and behind him for the killing shot.

Little does Khan realize that Kirk is now behind him
and about to finish it off.
(Poster from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan)
 When we taught air combat tactics during the Vietnam 'conflict' we emphasized thinking in three dimensions (energy maneuvering). Those of you who have been involved in air-combat understand this potential blindness of an adversary fresh out of flight training. Many more examples could be cited from submarine tactics to simply holding Pork Chop Hill as the high ground.  Humans think two dimensional and rarely note what is above or below us. We evolved on the flat plains of the Serengeti. Our threats did not come from above but rather from the two-dimensional grasslands around us.

The Mountain Goat's horizontally-slitted
eye pupil gives greater visual acuity in
vertical field of view.
Our eyes (with round pupils) have evolved binocular and peripheral vision sharpest above all in what is before and around us. We do not forage nor hunt in the vertical, unlike goats with their horizontally-shaped pupils that allow them a greater depth perception to threats or food on the slopes above and below them. I have often stood on a trail high on a slope and watched approaching hikers for a long time, only to have them notice me only when they turn a switchback and then bring their eyes to bear on the trail in front of them for the next leg. Rarely do they scan the trail above . . . they only see what is in front of them, often only where their feet are stepping.

With the high-ground I can see incoming hikers long before they will see me.
(image taken on FS6028 during a conditioning nude hike April 20th, 2012)

The gist of this little piece is that you can (and should) use high ground to your advantage. Think not only in the two-dimensional, but also in the vertical third dimension to be aware of what might be coming your way.  Look up once in awhile.  You may see me up there watching your approach like a predator.  :-)

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