Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Trap Pass via Tunnel Creek, Aug 24th, 2012

Permit filled out and ready to hike at the Tunnel Creek trail head
Tunnel Creek is another one of those popular weekend trails; mainly because it is only one and a half miles.  The trail is also a quick connector to the Pacific Crest Trail.  The flip side is that this trail is rated difficult because of the elevation change of 1,100 ft in that short mile and a half.  With the rock-slide abatement work on-going on Hwy 2 below Stevens Pass, the forest service road heading into this trail head is also difficult to get to.  I figured I'd have a good chance of having this trail to myself.  Wrong . . . once on the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) it was like a veritable hiker's highway and, against the oncoming rush was one lone nude hiker heading in the opposite direction.

Viewpoint over the gorge of Tunnel Creek from the trail
I'd actually prepped myself against the possibility of a little too much activity on the Tunnel Creek trail by bringing my hiking kilt with me (after all, there was that one other car in the trail head parking area.)  Initially, I hiked nude, leaving the kilt rolled up and inside my pack.  But as I got higher in and the trails started a convoluted series of twists and blind turns I knew that if I was going to meet anyone it would probably be by surprise on one of these blind turns in the trails where I had neither sight distance nor hearing.

At a particularly scenic viewpoint of the creek gorge below I stopped for a sip of water and then decided to wrap the kilt around my waist at least until I got onto more open trail and a little further in.

My homemade hiking kilt worn on a previous hike.
The kilt . . . actually, more of a wrap-around . . . goes on easy with Velcro tabs to fasten the edges at the right hip.  Hiking in it is almost the same as hiking completely nude, that's how comfortable it is (of course, I don't get the sun exposure on the skin that feels so sublime).  But in situations where I feel a little bit of discretion is warranted, wearing at least this kilt is enough to mellow just about any potentially adverse encounter.  Never mind that it is pretty obvious that I am nude beneath that flimsy piece of cloth . . . it's the effort to be considerate that is appreciated.

It must have been a sixth sense but no sooner than I'd pressed the edges of the waistband into place around my waist here comes this beautiful black Labrador and a nine to ten year old girl around the hidden curve of the trail before me.  I stepped aside as she stopped and said 'hi'.  Moments later mom and dad come huffing down the trail carrying heavy backpacks and making good use out of dual trekking poles each.

Mom and dad were initially a little taken back by this half-naked hiker but actually quickly recovered when I asked them how far in they had gone.  It's a technique I find that works well . . . diverting  attention to something innocuous.  And it kept the encounter mellow and an excuse for them to be civil and pause to catch their breath.  They had actually gone all the way to Trap Lake (a good six miler one way) and it was the girl's first hike.  The girl chimed in with all the things she had seen on the trail.

As soon as they were gone off came the kilt . . . rolled up and packed away.  There was only one other car at the trail head.  I made a quick assumption that there would be no one else on the trail.  Best laid plans of men and mice ...  The next meeting with hikers would not come until I was on the PCT-proper.

Mountain goat occupying the trail in front of me
Well . . . one other encounter.  A little over halfway up my eyes noted a flash of white movement on the trail in front of me that caused me to stop right in mid-step.  Only a hundred feet or so away . . . right on the narrow tread of the trail . . . was a lone mountain goat.  Thoughts of the deadly encounter of a hiker and a mountain goat in the Olympics did come to mind for a brief moment, especially when I managed to get the camera raised and zoomed in to focus on the wickedly sharp prong horns growing out of the mountain goat's head.  The potentially-dangerous critter kept looking back in my direction and I kept wondering if I should at least get the hiking kilt back on in case I got gored and had to be rescued. Silly thoughts. Before discretion could urge me to back away slowly the goat came to an analogous conclusion . . . probably relating the color of my naked form to another creature with similar beige-coloration . . . a cougar looking for a yummy goat for dinner.  He was over the steep slope and bounding away down to the bottom of the gorge of Tunnel Creek.  From a large boulder hundreds of feet below the goat gave me one more baleful look and then bounded off onto the opposing slopes.  I kind of shook my head in reverie. Today was turning out to be an interesting day and I was barely an hour into my hike.

Nude hiker wins out over mountain goat . . . lol, the goat booked.
I co-opted the section of trail vacated by the goat, stopping to check out the flattened foliage where he had launched himself over the edge.  Just amazing the surefootedness on such a steep slope.  Wildlife is difficult to observe on the trail.  The bears and deer and other denizens are there.  We simply don't see them because they avoid us noisy characters.  So a sighting is always a treat.

Connecting to the Pacific Crest Trail
The Tunnel Creek trail ends where it tees with the PCT at Hope Lake.  Coming over the final crest of the trail into a cleared area before the lake I ran into a middle-aged couple with heavy backpacks off and taking a break . . . PCTers.  Both were adjusting wide-brimmed hats with mosquito netting draped from the brims to their shoulders . . . bug hats.  I had to pass them and they'd already noted my coming up over the crest.  I smiled and commented that there weren't that many bugs out.  The woman noted, "Well, look at you . . ."  That got the conversation going and a break for me as well.  They truly wanted to know how I could deal with bugs with (as they put it) so much skin exposed.

So I told them that the bugs rarely bothered me . . . no sweat, etc., etc.  I let them in on Cutter's Advanced Formula which works somewhat against Deer and Horse Flies with . . . no DEET.  That got their interest and we talked about favored bug sprays and stuff like that before inquiring about each other's destinations.  They were doing the weekend Surprise Creek to Lake Valhalla route . . . hoping to make it as far as Lake Josephine by nightfall.  I was going the opposite direction and after a few more easy moments, left them to continue their break while I headed onto the PCT westbound.  A very pleasant conversation.  We must have chatted for at least a good ten minutes.   For some time on the trail I replayed how natural it had been to stand there naked in front of perfect strangers and not feel any apprehension about what they may have been thinking.  I was simply accepted as a fellow hiker . . . nothing more, nothing less; and that was a good feeling that validates my passion for nude hiking.

Hope Lake
Hope Lake is a placid little lake and a favored camping spot for overnighters coming up Tunnel Creek for a night or two, and for through-hikers doing the Pacific Crest Trail.  The best tent sites are on the far side of the lake and on this occasion I do note a tent already set up though where the occupants are I do not know.

Approaching Trap Pass
The section of the PCT between Tunnel Creek and Trap Pass may not be the best area to hike nude in if you crave sunlight.  At this time of year when the pass is finally clear of snow, the sun latitude is so far north that the peaks continually leave large parts of the trail in shade.  At least as you gain elevation there are a number of open meadows to pause and absorb warming rays.  But first you must ascend up dozens of steep switchbacks to gain another thousand feet over the thousand you've already put in getting to Hope Lake.  At 5,200 feet you crest Trap Pass and the trail levels out onto gloriously open meadows.

High elevation alpine meadows on Trap Pass

These meadows must be the HOV Express Lane for the PCT.  One moment I'm sauntering along . . . enjoying the sunshine . . . and the next moment two very fit, spandex-clad backpackers in outrageously bright reds and yellows come barreling down the narrow trail with trekking poles a'stabbing in pace.  I stepped aside as a courtesy and said 'hi' as they passed without breaking stride or lifting their eyes from the trail in front of them.  I thought I heard a foreign, Germanic accent in the "yo" as they passed.  And then they were gone.  I shrugged and continued on my way.  I would not make Trap Lake but I planned to go as far as the sun would allow for a safe return trip.

Just when I thought I'd have peace and quiet again, here comes another hiker and he exclaims, "Holy Cow!  Do I need to take a picture or something?"  I laugh and reply, "The only way to hike."  Real friendly type, we chat for a couple of minutes before he leaves.  I decide now and here is as good a spot for the small lunch I'd packed.  This time I saw the next set of hikers approaching and just watched them get closer as I enjoyed my lunch.  A couple of ladies who had come up from Surprise Creek to Trap Lake and were now heading for Hope Lake to overnight.  Again, another nice conversation to bolster my assumptions that no one really cares what you wear or choose not to wear in the wilderness.

I gave the women plenty of headway to get ahead of me before I started back myself.  The sun was getting awfully close to dropping below the peaks and ridges right above me.  Darkness would descend rather quickly in the lower areas headed back.

On the return trip, exploring Tunnel Creek within the gorge
The return trip was uneventful.  No more meetings . . . I must assume they were sane and in the process of setting up camp before light faded.  Once back on the Tunnel Creek Trail and heading north into the open valley of the Skykomish and out of the shadow of the nearby peaks, the trail was once again flooded with sunlight.  Near the bottom I found a way down the gorge to play around in the vigorous flow of Tunnel Creek.

Nearing the end of the hike
Ever notice how we tend to slow down and dawdle when we are approaching the end to a great nude adventure?  The parking area is just beyond me in that light area behind the trees.  Part of this is apprehension . . .  that parking area is wide open and subject to cars driving up unexpectedly so there is a little bit of bravado going forward to simply walk right out of the forest into the parking area and my car.  There is a little bit of stubbornness there as well.  But most of it is a sense of finality . . . once I set foot on the gravel of the trail  head parking the hike and the nude time is essentially over.  A number of times I've found myself walking back and forth in little mini-hikes simply to prolong the experience.

Back at the trail head, cognizant that there are still other hikers on the trail somewhere
Alas, no cars driving in at that one vulnerable moment as I traverse to the car, search for the keys and unlock.  The extra car there surprises me as I didn't meet anyone incoming on the hike down . . . and the hood of the car is still hot (suggesting that it hasn't been there very long.)

Encounter tally for the day:  Nine (two neutral or dismissive, seven positive, none negative)

In any, that was my Tunnel Creek hike for this year.  Trap Lake, ever elusive, will have to wait for another year.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Johnson Ridge to Joan Lake, Aug 17th, 2012

The start of the trail onto Johnson Ridge
Johnson Ridge is one of those easily accessible and popular trails off the Beckler River Road in the Wild Sky Wilderness of the Central Washington Cascades.  In summer this trail is simply too popular to hike nude on the weekends but given a nice sunny weekday and a check of the trail-head parking area you can have this trail all to yourself for a great hike along the ridge line over three summits before dropping down after four miles to a pleasant little lake full of rainbow trout (which also makes this lake popular amongst the bait and tackle crowd willing to hike in).

A leisurely hike through the canopy to the first summit.
The initial part of the hike is spent gaining the top of the first peak by way of an old jeep trail.  Once on the top you head east along a wide saddle and into open canopy.  This part of the hike is pleasant with just enough shade to take a little of the heat of the midday sun off you, yet not too much shade to make your claustrophobic tenancies surface.
Fields of lupine and busy, buzzing bees.
The saddle between peaks opens up to fields of lupine, blueberry and huckleberry bushes.  This late in the season the scores of hikers that have already been upon this trail have stripped the berries . . . they are few and far between.  Standing in a field of lupine with hundreds of bees buzzing around yet not bothering you is a strange sensation.  You feel you should be running for cover ...

A steep trek to to summit of Sunrise Mountain at 5,056 ft.
The rise to Sunrise Peak is steady and then suddenly on the other side it is a drop of 300ft in a short distance into the next saddle leading to Scorpion mountain.  From here the trail starts narrowing on the top of the ridge before finally dropping to traverse the southern open meadows.

Open alpine meadows and plenty of sunlight.
The open meadow portion of the hike is perhaps the most pleasant,  Open sky and brilliant sunshine . . . and wide open vistas of the mountains to the south.  I stopped here for a long leisurely lunch and some wandering around.  I could have been completely satisfied with only making it this far but Joan Lake was beckoning not that much further away.

First view of Joan Lake from Scorpion Mountain
Rounding just below the southern rim of Scorpion Mountain, Joan Lake suddenly comes into view in a cul a couple of hundred feet below.  I'm surprised to see the lake still partially frozen at this time of year (I've hiked Joan Lake every year for the past 15 and have never seen it ice-coated in late August).

Snow and Ice traverse skirting (hopefully) the lake.
Getting down to the lake involves a series of steep switchbacks and tricky footing (as the trail definitely needs some maintenance).  At the southern end of the lake subject to the most shade it is snow and ice covered and you have to make an educated guess as to where the shoreline is and what part of the ice is over water.  Fortunately, this end of the lake is rarely more than a foot or two deep.

Joan Lake
From the northern outlet eventually leading down to the Rapid River there are a number of camping spots and places to simply enjoy the late afternoon sun.  And surprisingly few bugs.

On the way back through meadows again.
Eventually, you have to give the siesta up and start the trek back . . . knowing there is a lot of elevation needed to gain before the long trek back down to the trailhead.  Years ago I tried to follow the long abandoned Kelly Creek Trail that comes into Joan Lake from the south (in the Martins Creek watershed).  I found the faint tread as far as Captain's Point and then lost the route over a talus field within sight of the meadows I'd just traversed below Scorpion.  Before climbing back up I explored around to see if I could find any old blazes that might indicate where the Kelly Creek Trail connected.  I thought I might have seen indications but was not sure.

Back at the trail-head parking area after the hike.
It took several hours to get back to the trailhead and wind down from the vigorous pace I'd been keeping.  First order of business . . . an energy snack and a cup of coffee from the thermos.  Since the trailhead sits in a wide space at 3,600ft I have great views and open space to relax sore muscles before the drive back down the mountainside.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Naked Facebook Challenge

Naked Facebook -Expose Real Beauty! In the Nude! Round 2!

Okay, I'll admit it.  I have a Facebook page here.  I don't often log on there . . . I may be techie-savvy  but the whole social media thing kind of overwhelms me as I don't really have a burning need or desire to be in constant contact with everyone all the time.  I don't even really get into the text messaging thing.  I'd rather make and receive phone calls, meet friends and acquaintances at the local coffee shop or even write a note or two to friends (I even buy US Postage stamps).  I have email . . . many email accounts than I should . . . and that is more than enough to keep me busy in the online world.  Of course, this blog is my primary outlet to express my love and enjoyment of nude recreation with anyone who is interested.

Part of the reason I've shunned Facebook in the past is because of their stringent censorship . . . particularly of breast-feeding mothers.  I can understand their take (though I can't condone it) as this media touches many . . . but I wish to share naturism and nudism, not hide it.  How can you socially connect in an online world as a nudist if you can not share nudity?  Without the visual aspect (the pictures and videos), nudism on Facebook is severely hampered.

BUT . . . a challenge.  Maybe enough to push some buttons and open up Facebook (and other social networks) a little.  It works like this . . . change your profile picture to one that is 'almost' naked but not so that you will get banned from Facebook.  A sensible challenge and one I'm willing to undertake.  Personally, I don't care if I do get banned.  Nothing new to me since Yahoo dropped my account for "unspecified' reasons several years ago.

So, here is my new profile picture on Facebook.  Artfully posed, but unintentionally so, such that those 'naughty' bits aren't visible (as if any part of the human body were naughty . . . politicians mouths should all be banned as obscene.)  The picture was taken quite serendipitously during a hike on Johnson Ridge last week and the pose does a nice job of portraying nudity in the outdoors without actually showing everything . . . Heaven forbid!.

The challenge to every reader of this blog who also has a Facebook account . . . take the challenge and post a nude picture of yourself as your profile picture . . . but as the organizers of Naked Facebook warn, make it such that your bits are not showing lest you get banned from Facebook.

Of course, if the conservative-fundamentalists get their way we may be posting our nude recreation photos in a burka like this . . .

Don't allow the growing conservatism in this country erode our freedoms
to express and enjoy innocent nude recreation.
Vote them out of office!
(non-burkasized version) Caution, the bits are showing!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Article: Sun exposure: Benefits beyond D production

Here is what we know, sometimes incompletely, about the effects of sun exposure on the human body:
1. Enhances mood and energy. Generally, a little bit of sun exposure is associated with better mood, while tanners commonly report feeling more relaxed than non-tanners. One study demonstrated that β-endorphins increase after sun exposure, which would explain this association. Three studies found no increase in β-endorphin production after sun exposure, but the authors speculate that the anxiety from a blood draw to check on endorphins would negatively affect endorphin levels.
2. Treats skin diseases. These diseases include treatment of lupus vulgaris, psoriasis, vitiligo, atopic dermatitis and localized scleroderma. Why phototherapy works in the treatment of these diseases is not completely understood (usually broadband UVB or narrow-band UVB, but sometimes UVA also), researchers do know of some mechanisms during phototherapy. UV radiation reduces the rate of cell proliferation in the skin, activation and proliferation of melanocytes, reduction of T-lymphocytes, and reduction of Langerhans and mast cells.
3. Relieves pain in fibromyalgia. Sunbathing seems to have potential to reduce pain in patients with fibromyalgia compared to no exposure. The mechanism is unknown.
4. Skin barrier functions. Skin exposed to UVB and UVA is more resistant to primary irritants. Once again, the mechanism is unknown.
5. Protects from disease beyond vitamin D? In an animal model, researchers discovered that sun exposure is more protective and suppressive against multiple sclerosis than just vitamin D alone.
6. Induces nitric oxide. UVA exposure induces nitric oxide (NO*) production. It has been suggested that NO* protects the skin for 20-30 minutes from UV damage, offers cardiovascular protection, helps wounds and have some anti-tumor activity.
One area that the authors did not mention was melatonin regulation. It is believed that the more light one is exposed to during the day, the sooner melatonin production occurs at night. Melatonin is involved in the sleep-wake schedule and when released, makes the body drowsier and cooler.
While there is much work to be done in the realm of figuring out specific mechanisms of action induced by UV exposure, we have some clues as to what sun exposure accomplishes outside of vitamin D production.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mt Persis Nude Hike . . . a second attempt

Near the summit of Mount Persis
A belated posting of a nude hike I did August 10th of this year . . . the past week has been busy what with my employer going through the final stages of bankruptcy and the new company experiencing growing pains . . . and a few scheduled doctor visits.  Just never got around to writing the hike up ...

Mt Persis is the companion (some say the Little Sister) to the imposing upthrust of Mt Index which commands attention from everyone who travels down the US 2 corridor from the west toward the Cascade Crest.  These two mountains foretell the change from foothills to mountains once outside of the town of Goldbar and nearing the town of Index.

Side Note:  The present Mt Index is actually the second Mt Index . . . the present-day Baring Mountain a little bit further east originally being named Mt Index before being renamed.

Mt Persis actually shares a high elevation saddle with Mt Index, tying these mountains together and providing the easier route to scale Mt Index from Mt Persis.  For now, Mt Index is much beyond my abilities and skills but Persis is fully capable of being conquered by a hiker without technical requirements.  I attempted the hike once before, only to be stopped by a snowfield over a talus slope that I felt was simply too unstable.  For a few years, closure of FS 62 to the public forestalled any thoughts of trying again . . . until last week when I went off exploring for a possible hike (now that FS 62 is again accessible.)

The southwest Ridge Route up Mt Persis.
Reaching the trailhead is straight-forward though sometimes a little rough on the undercarriage of your vehicle.  Follow FS 62 in as it wends and climbs into the Proctor Creek Valley (watch out for logging trucks on this very active road).  At about the 3 1/2 mile point the road forks.  straight and to the right continues on to Lake Cavanaugh.  Left continues up onto the southwest flank of Persis.  As the road gets rougher and does a couple more switchbacks, it forks on more time.  Stay to the left and uphill and drive as far as you dare.  I made it about 3/4s of a mile from the trailhead and parked in a small pullout.  I would have to hike the rest of the road on my own two feet.

This far in I've rarely seen cars and I felt that as rough as that road was getting that it was unlikely anyone else had managed to get further up to park at the actual trailhead.  The day was hot, humid and stagnant.  Stripping out of my clothes from the beginning was a no-brainer. This time I remembered to bring the sunscreen spray and coated my body from head to toes.  I would be heading high in elevation where the sun would be much more intense.  Sunburn I did not want to deal with later.  A couple of bottles of water downed and a power bar snack for ready energy, and it was off on the final stretch of road to the trailhead.

I had to laugh later . . . the sunscreen gave me that oiled-body glistening look ...
Hiking up the remaining sections of the road to the trailhead in the heat of the day . . . still and very humid air . . . a solitary Deer Fly decided to accompany me with kamikaze darts around my head.   August is the time for the more aggressive biting insects such as Horse and Deer Flies and the one thing I had forgotten to bring along was an insect repellent (much as I hate using that stuff on my bare skin).  Fortunately the Deer Fly only seemed interested in pestering me out of its' territory.  As soon as I reached more open areas with a little bit of breeze . . . Ms Deer Fly disappeared . . . much to my relief.

The Trail Head . . . not necessarily promising
The trail head is not marked or blazed . . . simply a dirt ramp leading steeply up into the brush above.  There is a car parked opposite the entrance and I feel a moment of disappointment.  That meant someone else was on the trail ahead of me and had been for some time judging by the cool hood and brakes.  I had brought nothing with which to cover myself up if necessary and I was certainly in no mood to hike all the way back down to my car to grab my hiking kilt.  Anyone heading on up to Mt Persis had to be a fanatic . . . and probably not too concerned with naked hikers such as myself.  I'd go on as I was because I just had to experience the wide open ridgelines and intense sunlight of this mountain.

Steep and closed in, the beginning is a scramble up
The first couple of hundred feet on the trail turn back many.  The trail is extremely steep with tricky footing . . . the foliage is close-in, in many places less that half a foot open space to squeeze through.  Nude, it is a challenge but in the same respect, enjoyable to feel the supple brush slide around and off your body as you squeeze yourself through.  Soon enough you are in the open as you gain the lower stretches of the ridgeline.

On the open ridge line of Mt Persis
The trail on the open ridge is obvious from its' lack of real definition.  You instinctively know which way to follow up because the crest of the ridge is so narrow.  There really is only one way and it is continuously steep.  For me, the breaks are many and I find that I'm working new muscles such as the pains in the quads are showing.

The sun is intense up here and I sweat heavily.  Fortunately, I've brought a couple of bottles of water and electrolyte replacement to deal with dehydration.

Yeap . . . there is a lot more upward trekking to do.
So far the route has been much as I remembered it from my last attempt several years ago.  I've seen no evidence of the earlier visitors and this wide open ridge would give me plenty of warning of them coming back down.  Up ahead, just beyond the stand of trees is a steep portage around and up the base of a large, solid outcropping of granite . . . the steepest part of the hike and bordering right on becoming technical.

The view from atop the granite mastiff.
On my previous attempt I was defeated by a large snowfield covering a talus slope.  At the time I felt that the snow covered voids that were simply too unstable.  By August the snow had disappeared and the unstable rocks of the talus slope presented a new challenge.

On the talus slope seeking the unmarked way across.
I'd learned my lesson from a previous talus crossing where I'd gotten my foot trapped between shifting boulders.  I stayed high, tested each and every step first, and made sure not to place my feet where a boulder could suddenly move and trap me anew.  It took some time to navigate my way across and find where the trail continued on the far side.

I made it to sturdier ground amid trees and took a breather.  As I was sipping on the second bottle of water I heard voices descending the area above.  They were on me just like that . . . a father and his two boys.  They had made the summit and related their losing the trail several times just ahead.  They asked about how far it was to the talus and I told them just a little way, pointing the open area just below us.  As they took off the father offered that there was no one else up there . . . all in all a friendly encounter with no one in the least perturbed about my nudity.

So close . . .
I finally reach the level area traversing to the true summit of Mt Persis only to lose the trail in a mass of new growth.  I'm also cognizant of the time and don't have enough of it to scout a route.  Reluctantly, I turn around to head back down.  Little did I realize it . . . the hike down took more out of me that going up . . . constantly checking myself on the steep slopes.

Making it back to the car as I lose the light of day.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Always Nice to Get a Thank You

Got an email today that kinda made my day . . .

"I just wanted to send a thank you note for your blog. I ran across it by accident when I was looking for hiking info about a year ago, and it was my first introduction to the fact that other people were interested in nude hiking. Of course once I found it and followed some links and did some searches that never occurred to me before, I found lots of other resources on the web. But had it not been for your blog I might have remained ignorant of the feasibility of what has become one of my favorite forms of recreation.  My dogs thank you too, as they get to go with me on my now more frequent hikes."

Is Nude Hiking Legal in the United Kingdom?

Following a Newbury Today UK website reporter's assertion that nude hiking was illegal in the UK, in an article entitled "The Naked Truth about Nude Hiking" a flurry of comments have been lobbed that point out that nude hiking is not illegal in the United Kingdom.

“If you refer to s66 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, you will see that there is a considerable burden of proof of ‘mens rea’ on the prosecution to obtain a conviction, i.e. the clear intention has to be to cause shock and alarm to the victim."
“Passive, non-sexual nudity has been legal in England and Wales since the 2003 Sexual Offences Act came into force, and your ill-informed statement is typically ignorant."

“Every year, thousands of naked people participate in protest bike rides around the country (this year’s events will take place next weekend) and the police often provide enabling traffic management services. There have never been any arrests during these rides because passive non-sexual nudity is NOT illegal."

“For your information, Steven Gough was imprisoned initially for contempt of court, not for naked rambling, but it’s a long complicated situation and the law is different in Scotland.”

Upper Scenic Creek Falls

There is a secret little gem just off the Scenic Hot Springs property that is rarely visited . . . and usually only by those enroute to bushwhacking a 'hunter's' trail to Hamada Lake and another smaller lake further in to the wilderness of the side valley west of the springs.  It is said that during the heydays of the Great Northern and Scenic (aka Madison) Hot Springs Hotel, that the proprietor of the hotel had these lakes seeded and stocked with trout for the fishing enjoyment of his guests.  True or not, the high alpine lakes are sometimes visited by fishermen a hundred years later.

Scenic Creek . . . which is not the runoff of any of the similarly-named hot springs on the adjacent mountainside . . .  is the outflow from those two small alpine lakes way up a side valley.  Scenic Creek is better known for the lower water falls that cascade 150ft in a thunderous roar less than a quarter mile from the original townsite of Scenic (and the present-day BNSF Cascade Tunnel staging area.)  Scenic Creek joins Surprise Creek near this area to form the bulk of the Tye River flowing west that later becomes the South Fork of the Skykomish River.

Overlooking the Lower Scenic Creek Falls
during a previous visit.
The Lower Falls are ridiculously-easy to get to . . . but the upper cascades of Scenic Creek are another story; steep slopes, Devil's Club and obscurity.  But they are every bit as alluring with serenity in contra-point to the raw power of the lower falls.  Following the creek up doesn't work . . . you'll soon give up . . . unless you know a side route in.  There is such a hunter's trail of old and I had promised to show several others in on the route a few weeks ago . . . only we ran into time problems.

On my way to the upper falls.  97F out.  Some forest shade will be welcome.
I found myself this last Saturday, scheduled to meet someone at the springs.  I got there way early and with the temperatures soaring up into the high nineties, a trip up to the springs and a soak was not really on my agenda.  So I spent my time soaking up some rays on one of the many large sunning boulders within the clearcut . . . and then still bored . . . decided to see if there still was a recognizable trail up to the upper Scenic falls.  A cursory look-see a few weeks earlier had convinced me that disuse along with the ravages of winter blow-down and new growth had done a job of hiding the trail and making it nigh impassable without some serious bushwhacking.

Probably something that should have been done with good boots, some protective clothing, and a machete but I was being myself . . . as little as possible just to see if it was doable in as natural state as I could.  I like those sort of challenges.  So sandals, hat, hiking staff and a fanny pack slung over a shoulder and it was on my way to the not-so-well-known trail entrance.

If you look into the foliage directly opposite a large boulder
beside the dirt track, a trail opening becomes evident.
In mainstream hiking forums you find comments on the inadvisability of hiking nude for reasons related to the need to wear clothing to protect yourself from snags and scratches from the foliage around you.  I've often found that the exact opposite is more the reality.  Entering that mess of brambles and dead branches (as is evident in the image above) would seem to be a detriment to unprotected bare skin but I find myself much more aware of my interaction with my surroundings when I hike nude . . . so much so that I glide with a quiet gracefulness around objects that would catch and snag in me if I were wearing clothing.  The sharp, broken tip of a dead branch slides easily over and past my bare skin because I am very much aware of them and how to get around without snagging.  Nude, my skin experiences directly rather than a muffled smothering to some dull sensation upon clothing.  It is all rather sensuous.

With a hiking staff to move and hold aside the more egregious thorns and sharp objects in my path, I'm even confident in traversing a patch of Devil's Club should it become necessary.  In a way, I would not have attempted entering this old hiker's trailhead with any clothing that would have quickly caught every sharp object, digging them in and injuring myself . . . nude, and unencumbered, it was so much more easier to simply slide on in like a silent denizen of the forest.  I rarely ever end up with cuts and scratches when hiking through thick undergrowth in the nude.  Truly au 'natural and one with nature!

Past the initial barrier of succulent new growth and identifying the old trail.
A side note on the photo above:  I try to always have something in my images that I can use to adjust white balance during post-editing.  Normally that would be the white athletic socks I commonly wear with my hiking boots or shoes . . . but on this occasion I elected to go in with just what I presently had on . . .  a pair of sandals, a hat, and little else.  On thinking it out, I knew that my camera would get tricked on the color temperatures once under the forest canopy, so I stuffed those unused white socks into a side pocket of my fanny pack to have reference to something white.
Once past the initial barrier of fallen tree limbs and thick, obscuring new growth on the edges exposed to sunlight it was into the more open, filtered shade of the forest canopy and a good ten to fifteen degree drop in temperatures.  In the draws of the slope carrying a number of seasonal streamlets downward there was actually a little bit of a breeze that felt very comfortable on the body.  Bushwhacking sense comes in handy in actually using these temperature gradients (and the downward breezes carrying them) to navigate your way.  The draw of Scenic Creek (the cut in the mountainside produced by that creek) pulls and funnels quite a bit of naturally-cooled air within it's vee-shaped funnel that is unmistakable as you get near.  Of course, the roar of the creek is also an useful navigational tool.

The trick, of course, was to  get over there.  Those same streamlets, as they flattened out and saturated the ground, produced fertile areas within the canopy to amass an impenetrable  bog of Devil's Club.  You had to get higher on the slope before traversing over and above the razor-sharp hiker's nemesis before getting over to the upper cascading falls of Scenic Creek.  The original trail was all but obliterated . . . you could see hints of what might have been a footpath but it was hard to be sure from memory as to the exact route to take that would have put me above the Devil's Club.  And then I had to deal with a lot of deadfall.

A tricky spot and one I needed to remember . . . I blazed the spot to traverse
the streamlets with red construction tape.  There is a hint to the route on
the left side of the image that leads up and to the right behind two trees.
The original trail goes up for several hundred feet to where it is feasible to cross the small streamlets without twisting an ankle or getting calf-deep in soft muck.  One such spot has an ancient tree trunk bridging the moist ground but it is difficult to spot from either direction.  I don't often blaze routes but I do have a roll of red construction tape in my pack for just such occasions.  If you wanted to get around the Devil's Club then you needed to know this traverse point.

Making a new trail for myself.
Once across and it was evident of where you had to go.  One more hummock to ascend and you would be overlooking the cut of Scenic Creek.  Again, no discernable path so I created my own trail, navigating between two huge boulders for reference to the route back later.

First view of scenic Creek by an overgrown fire-ring.
 Coming upon the lip above the cut of Scenic Creek you can see why this area is so serene and with a feeling of remoteness despite being so close to the BPA clearcut.  The sound of the creek as it cascades down numerous falls supplants everything else.

There are a number of small flat spaces above the creek that have obviously been used to camp in the past . . . including small fire-rings that have not seen use in a number of years.  In late summer and early fall this entire area becomes carpeted with a bed of thick, spongy moss that makes for a luxurious mattress under any sleeping bag.  A small campfire, and a warm sleeping bag and who could ask for anything else . . . except not to inadvertently roll down the hillside in your sleep into the churning waters of the creek late at night!

Cooling the feet in Scenic Creek.
Coming off a couple of shallow alpine lakes instead of straight snow-melt, Scenic Creek is not supercold this time of year.  It becomes a welcome respite from the heat of the day . . . and especially hot feet.

The old hunter's trail continues upward.
The original trail follows the creek but a short distance up before diverging off to skirt another round of Devil's Club.  Above is an area known for just the right conditions for huckleberries . . . and also for the bears that love huckleberries.  The way is seriously impaired now by a lot of fallen trees and I'm not prepared to venture into steeper terrain (especially without proper footwear).  I've confirmed for myself that the upper falls are reachable and it's almost time to meet my friend.

Emerging back into the clearcut and the somewhat oppressive
heat of full sunlight.

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