Naked at the Gasthof

Occasionally we glimpsed the surrounding peaks getting smaller. After several hours of zig-zagging upwards through the trees, we emerged from the forest onto the ridge and a welcome pause. We were going slowly and stopped for lunch just below the top. We were going slowly and stopped for lunch just below the top, Doug, Mira, mid-p1050335Jacques and Sylvie, then joined us for lunch and then to walk back up to the top of the hill, many people passing us on the fairly busy ridge trail.

Several looked a little surprised to see our group walking naked along the same way as they were, but were all friendly enough, with several smiles and waves exchanged, as one would expect when out on a mountain hike. Continuing along the spine of the alp, we quickly dressed to enter the Hochzelleralm Mountain Gasthof, nestling nicely on the shoulder of the ridge with extensive views of the lower valleys all around. We were just sitting down when Jerome, (organiser of the Brussels WNBR), suggested I ask the staff if it were possible to sit on their terrace naked. Naturally I thought they’d say no, but was happy to ask.

Guests at the Gasthof

The young and friendly waiter looked suitably surprised, but said that it was late in the day, with not many guests, and if the few that were here didn’t mind he had no objection either. So I asked a couple on the nearest table, and they said they didn’t mind, I dutifully fed the response back to the waiter, and he said, “fine, enjoy your drinks on our terrace naked by all means, then”.

We needed no further encouragement and our flimsy wraps and shorts came off, much to the surprise of one other couple, who’d I’d neglected to ask. They however were quite ok with us being naked too, furthermore they were happy to be video interviewed by the naked Gilles as to how they felt about more than 20 plus naked guests sharing their alpine coffee break with them. They seemed pretty comfortable about it all, the lady even removing her jumper to show some solidarity, (or perhaps she was just getting a bit hot).

We chatted for some time, greeting new arrivals with cheerful smiles as usual, and slowly drank our thirst-quenching schorles at this extraordinary well situated alpine Gasthof. The views were stupendous.

Extract from the Naked Hiking book, chapter by Richard Foley

Into the sunlight

We came out into the sunlight at the top of the woods, and a large open swathe of bright grass led us up towards the gasthof on the ridge. We dressed, shortly before arriving there and, having brought our own lunch, continued along the mid-tegernsee-0018trail to get a little peace and quiet. 100 metres past the gasthof, we stripped off again, just as Tania began to demolish yet another raspberry bush.

A number of people joined the trail here from ahead and to the left of us, and a few cyclists came hurtling past, one trailing a camera and asking if it was ok if he took a photo. We didn’t mind of course, although we thought that if he’d stopped perhaps the photo would not be so blurred.

We continued along the easy ridge path, surrounded by trees again, until we reached an open spot, where we could stop for a bit of lunch.

Salami and sunshine

A little salami and cheese, some fruit and vegetables, a cool drink, a good view and companionable company. Naked in the high mountain sunshine, amidst the trees and foothills of southern Bavaria, we soaked up the atmosphere quietly.

Extract from the Naked Hiking book, chapter by Richard Foley

Stand and fight or run and hide?

No freedom has ever been freely given, freedoms have always been taken, and the only question is whether we stand and fight, or run and hide. The people who pioneer the new, (because not “normal”), views are inevitably regarded as extremists. Today, we bow to lesbian/gay rights, women voters, etc.Only because some people made a hard stand during difficult times.

Stand and fight?

When those people were fighting for OUR rights, most people called them extremists and nutcases.

Imid-20120717_103914f Emily Parkhurst had been “sensitive to the appropriateness of the situation”, I’m sure she would not have thrown herself under the King’s horse and women would probably still not have the vote. Nelson Mandela is another example of precisely the same case where one man suffers for years under the barbaric of the current regime, while today he is hailed as a hero. He was fortunate, he was able to enjoy his last years of life in freedom.

Alan Turing is another who was shamed, and forcefully chemically “treated”, by the government of his time, for the crime of following his own harmless activities. Turing was so persecuted that he committed suicide rather than face the rest of his life as a chemically castrated individual.

What fate awaits Stephen Gough?

WNBR

The World Naked Bike Ride book by Richard Foley

Available from Amazon and all good book distributors via ISBN: 978-0-9572432-0-0

The World Naked Bike Ride is a global protest against oil dependency and urban pollution, promoting greater cycling safety on our roads, and encouraging body freedom for everyone.

Extract: There is surely a sensible and sustainable balance to be found between use and abuse. We need to take a decision about the kind of world in which we want to
live, and about the kind of world we want our children, and their children, to
inherit. These are the choices we have to make and the question is, really,
who makes them? As Rachel Carson pointed out, when writing about the poisoning
of the natural world by the chemical industries: “Who has decided? … the
decision is that of the authoritarian temporarily entrusted with power; he has
made it during a moment of inattention by millions to whom beauty and the
ordered world of nature still have a meaning that is deep and imperative.”

This book visually describes the environmental awareness event, the history of how it started, the people who take part, and the motivations behind this very public demonstration.

Foreword by Conrad Schmidt.
Including 250 NSFW images (inc. a selection of sfw images).

 

What if someone at work finds out?

A new set of issues are of course raised by being naked in a public space and having people take photographs of you.

std-2011_0611wnbr0078-bcFirst of all, it’s not always possible to know the precise reasons behind every camera, the intentions of the photographer; secondly, you have to ignore the possibility of someone finding the images exciting, because running your life on the basis of what other people think or find titillating is a very sad state of affairs to be in; and thirdly, horror of horrors, what if someone from work finds out?

Really, most of us don’t live in the repressive and hypocritical Victorian or Biblical eras any more, thank goodness, and people are generally much more mature in their knowledge of nudity these days. I recall a recent employer of mine discussing a project, where there was need of some confrontational joviality to lighten the mood, and knowing my penchant for naked activities, suggesting we do a naked Maori Haka for the other half of the team. Clearly the idea of being naked at work is not as outrageous as some would have us believe.

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

Riders should wear helmet and shoes!

Initially the police, particularly of any town new to the WNBR, may be nervous of the idea of nudity and as such they will want to control the ride closely. They may also be reluctant to appear to condone the event in any way and the risk of arrest is likely to remain in many cities in the early years. 

Police are initially reserved

std-p1050506-bcThe experience of most cities, London in the UK, Vancouver in Canada, Seattle and Portland in the USA, Zaragoza in Spain, Turin in Italy, Brussels in Belgium, and Golden Bay in New Zealand, to name but a few of the many WNBR cities around the world, is that even where police are initially reserved about the WNBR, once they’ve experienced a ride or two, the general observation appears to be that they relax, and are much happier to see body painting and partial- or often full- nudity.

At the end of the St. Louis the policewoman who had been leading the entire ride through the town, stopped the traffic with her car to let the riders return to the parking lot at the starting point and then began taking video like a spectator, while naked cyclists rode past her saying “thank you” for doing such a good job during the event.

The Portland Police Bureau in Oregon, for instance, can also be seen to be entering into the light hearted spirit of the event when they recommend: “that all riders at least wear a helmet and shoes to avoid any potential injuries.”

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

The music I listen to dares me to live

In the modern world, it’s not necessary any more for people to close their windows on nudity, indeed being naked to attract attention to a cause would be a bit pointless if everyone did.

std-20120610-img_2976_zf-0005-14698-1-003-bcFortunately that’s not the case in these more modern times and in fact members of the public who see the WNBR, as it passes them in the high street, are almost unanimously very supportive.

Of course, there are always one or two diehard, puritanical souls who express dismay and disgust with down-turned mouths, sour fish-faces and distasteful thoughts in only their minds, but the vast majority of people applaud and clap, and wave enthusiastically.

As Troy Marusek, who bicycled 800 miles from Chicago to St. Louis to join two separate WNBRs from his home town of Lexington, KY, relates: “A lot of the music I listen to dares me to live, and not to waste my life.”

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

People take photographs

A new set of issues are of course raised by being naked in a public space and having people take photos of you.

First of all, it’s not always possible to know the precise reasons behind every camera, the intentions of the photographer; secondly, you have to ignore the possibility of someone finding the images exciting, because running your life on the basis of what other people think or find titillating is a very sad state of affairs to be in; and thirdly, horror of horrors, what if someone from work finds out? std-101_5131a-bcReally, most of us don’t live in the repressive and hypocritical Victorian or Biblical eras any more, thank goodness, and people are generally much more mature in their knowledge of nudity these days. I recall a recent employer of mine discussing a project, where there was need of some confrontational joviality to lighten the mood, and knowing my penchant for naked activities, suggesting we do a naked Maori Haka for the other half of the team. Clearly the idea of being naked at work is not as outrageous as some would have us believe. A little unusual perhaps, but after all, when the boss suggests it, who are the workers to argue?

Regardless of the many possible answers to the question of what use a photo will be put to, or who will see you, it is important to keep in mind that the WNBR was created with the express intention of attracting media attention to the event explicitly through the use of nudity. Indeed, the images of naked protesters at the WNBR are a heart-warming testament to the conviction of masses of people to put their bodies ‘on the line’, and almost certainly ‘online’ also, for a common cause, to take a risk and be naked in public for a public cause, on behalf of our environment, for all of us. One’s very own five minutes of fame.

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

My first naked hike

The hike started. We left the car park and after a couple of hundred metres we turned off down a path into the wood ahead. After the first corner, the organizer stopped the group and we had the opportunity to undress. Now this was exciting. All the hikers removed and stuffed their clothing into their rucksacks, followed promptly by putting sun-cream on. Some people even removed their shoes. So, now was about to begin my first naked hike.

Nearly overwhelming

The feeling, standing naked in the woods with 50 other naked people, was nearly overwhelming. I had been somewhat nervous about what would happen. But it began as every other hiking tour had: with the first step! mid-img_3788Then followed a second, and a third, and after a few hundred metres any nervousness vanished altogether and was replaced by an intense feeling of awareness of my surroundings. An absolutely amazing experience!

I opened up to the weather and began to soak in the surroundings with all my senses. It was a beautiful summers’ day. The sky could not have been more blue and the sun lifted any tiredness away. The air temperature was circa 25°C. The sun’s rays felt very pleasant on the exposed skin and a gentle breeze gave such a wonderful feeling. I looked at the trees around us, at the path which stretched ahead, and was impressed with both myself and the situation, that I was even able to walk along with such a large group of naked people. What a marvelous feeling!

With the first kilometres behind us I thought about what I had discovered. I love the bodily awareness of moving so freely amongst nature. Even the smallest of differences began to push in on my sense of reality. A small cloud pushed in front of the other clouds and created a magical shadow across my body. I did not freeze, but I could feel goosebumps appear over my skin. As the cloud moved away from blocking the direct sunshine, I felt even more comfortable than previously. The goosebumps disappeared as the sun’s warm rays once more caressed my naked body.

An extract from the Naked Hiking book, chapter by Nicole Wunram.

If you don't like the weather

I learnt for the first time what it was not just to be amongst nature, but to be part of it.

Boots had left me stumbling blindly across the ground, oblivious to what lay on it. My clothes had insulated me, not just to the elements, but to the whole environment. Was I really not tough enough to handle a bit of wind, maybe an occasional spot of rain?

SONY DSC

And while paths are often rough and gravel strewn did I really need boots for grass strewn slopes? While the climate of Scotland could be harsh, I realised there would always be days when nature welcomed me, when clothes, maybe even boots might not be needed.

However, you can sometimes get a little too close to nature. One particular example of this takes me back to a hot summer day on the north coast of Scotland. We had thought about finding ourselves a secluded beach to take advantage of the warm Gulf Stream waters, but instead we decided to climb a mountain, Ben Hope, one of the largest of the isolated peaks of the far north.

Parked at the bottom of it, the weather seemed so good that for a moment I briefly considered leaving my waterproof jacket behind. But then I remembered this is Scotland, and we have a saying here – “if you don’t like the weather, just try waiting fifteen minutes.”

An extract from the Naked Hiking book, chapter by Stuart Pitsiligo.