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

Too close to Nature

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. mid-image45My 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?

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.

Too close

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.”

Extract from the Naked Hiking book, chapter by Stuart Pitsligo

Magical zone

The most compelling reason that I have found though for hiking in the nude, is the ease of sliding into that magical zone of existence while naked. As my freehiking buddies and I have all experienced, especially while hiking solo, it is the process of just wandering, and slowly drifting into that zone of existence mid-bb-07where you are acutely sensitive to everything around you, yet deeply calm, and passively observing. On one hike on an early spring day, I nearly tripped over a bright orange newt (a small lizard-like amphibian) amongst the green undergrowth at my feet, if tripping over a newt is possible.

I just had to squat down and stare at it for awhile. That newt was my total existence for that moment. On another hike, I found myself sitting during a rest break, upon a small ledge halfway up a hillside on the Long Trail in Vermont, in the Northeast Kingdom. Overlooking a medium size pond a few hundred feet below me, the water below was framed by clouds and mist boiling and spilling over the mountain tops several hundred feet above me. Sitting in my nakedness, temps in the low 50s , overcast weather, I was acutely aware of my environment, the sound of the rain drifting down through the trees, the lush green smell, the color of the light filtering through the mists above, the texture of the surface of the pond. I was totally at peace with that moment.

Heightened state

Parts of the past few years have been rather wet for hiking here in the northeast US, a blessing in keeping some of the tourists at bay. A relative delight in discovering how comfortable one can be hiking naked during the summer, in the rain that would otherwise have one miserable, soggy and chilled. This has come at the expense of the trails getting very beat up because they have remained so muddy that they cannot support the foot traffic when the sun and crowds do return. There has also been a lot of damage caused by the hurricanes and major storms experienced in my area these past two years.

A side benefit that I have noticed through this adversity though, backpacking sections of both the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail is that because the going is rough and much slower than normal, I have been able to notice many things along the trail that I may have unconsciously walked by under more normal conditions. The slower pace and the heightened state of my senses brought on by my nakedness have allowed me a deeper appreciation of some very special parts of this planet we inhabit. And yes, I have been asked by fellow hikers that I meet in the overnight huts, how it can be that my clothes have spilled out of my pack dry and why my spirits have remained bouyant. And I have been pleased to have been able to share my personal take on simple nudity with an open minded audience.

Extract from the Naked Hiking book, chapter by Dan Kidwell.

Never mind Shakespeare…

It is clear that our lives are defined by the space between the two camps of; firstly, our thoughts on our own actions; and secondly, by our fear of what other people might think.

std-100_8307-bcNever mind Shakespeare

the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius pointed this out some two thousand years ago: “All is as thinking makes it so.”

Simply taking part in an environmental protest movement makes one an object of curiosity for many people, and while the majority of the public will be cheering the riders on, the media are busy interviewing the participants, regardless as to whether they are naked or clothed.

 

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

Etched across the skyline

Continuing up the now more sparsely vegetated valley, sweating under the clear blue sky, we could feel the mountain air glide gently over our skins, keeping us refreshingly dry as it did so.

Etched across the skyline

We could see the summit ridge and our target summit for the day. As we gained height steadily, we began to overtaken by faster hikers, all clothed, and all friendly. mid-p1100178First one couple, then another, then a family coming down the hill, several stragglers and finally we passed a group having a rest just beyond the Austrian/German border, at the col itself. We exchanged pleasantries, and took in the glorious view of the alps stretching away into Austria, before Emma and I settled down nearby to have a light picnic. Polly nibbled on bits of cheese and salami.

At this point the clouds were building and it looked wise to keep moving, so we ambled behind the closed Klausenberg hut, waving back to the friendly group of picknickers there, and followed the narrow and gentle ridge, along to the summit. The views from this deceptively small ridge are quite magnificent, down to the Chiemsee lake to the north, across to the Kampenwand to the west, and south into Austria and the higher snow covered alps.

A short stop on top, and then we followed the trail north along the ridge through more forest, coming to several memorials to people lost in the mountains. A particularly poignant wooden cross impaled in a rocky vantage point, had been erected by the local mountain rescue team to their fallen comrades.

An extract from the Naked Hiking book, chapter by Richard Foley.

Why Nude? by Howard Anderson

In our enlightened modern world which celebrates multicultural diversity it is not too much to ask to have complete freedom of dress for reasons of religion, culture and personal belief. …but Why Nude?

opx-cover-front-facebook-safeThe World Naked Bike Rides have shown that this celebration of diversity has indeed extended, at least in part, to embrace social nudity in the UK and in many other Western countries. The author’s personal experience of these rides and the reactions of others towards social nudity in settings outside of the traditional naturist clubs has resulted in this exploration of the whole issue, presented here in the hope that others may come to understand better what many find to be an uplifting and affirming way of life.

This work discusses being nude in a social setting. The author shows why people choose to live at least part of their lives without clothes, that doing so is very enjoyable and that it offers a number of valuable benefits. The author also demonstrates how one can cultivate this freedom from pressure to conform in daily life.

Why Nude? Thoughts and reflections on social nudity by Howard Anderson

Available from Amazon and all good book distributors

 

The World Naked Bike Ride book Thunderclap campaign

You can support the World Naked Bike Ride book Thunderclap campaign, (and tell your friends!)

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Many thanks for all your support, let’s make this happen!

Appearances may be deceiving

It’s not the appearance of someone which dictates their character, or their motivations, it’s what they actually do that is the issue. The relevance of this discussion for the WNBR is that it’s not the clothing, or the differently clothed or coloured state of another that is the problem: it’s the demonstrative but entirely peaceful behavior that is at stake here. std-101_5004a-bcIt’s important to separate the outward appearance of someone, how they look at any given time, from ones opinion of their inner motivation.

Having the freedom to clothe your own body in the way you see fit, and not from the dictates of prudish, guilty and shameful thoughts, is a step towards personal freedom for everybody. We actually can use our own bodies and minds in the way we each choose, but we need to believe in this as individuals, and to know this as an inalienable civil right. This is what Vincent Bethell’s Freedom to be Yourself campaign , started in 1998 in London, was concerned with, and after spending five months in solitary confinement awaiting his court appearance for being a ‘public nuisance’, he insisted on attending court naked.

This was a jury trial, and he was judged by a panel of his peers, who unanimously found him not guilty of the charge. While the presiding Judge George Bathurst-Norman warned him darkly: “I would not go away too much with that idea”, he also appended the crucial: “It is simply not a public nuisance in these circumstances.” Notwithstanding the judge’s hesitating support for the defense, essentially this was a great victory for the cause for freedom of choice where individualism, and public nakedness, is concerned.

As Terri Sue Webb wrote, and as Vincent Bethell and many others also state: “To be offended by the visual appearance of another person is prejudice, akin to racism.”

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book, available on Amazon and all good book retailers.

Smiling with shame

There’s a lot of fun to be had also from the slightly vicarious position of being a bystander at a WNBR, taking photographs, enjoying the colourful sights, smiling, waving and cheering the participants on. However, there are always a few reactionaries to every revolution, the ones who are terrified of anything new, any change, any challenge to the status quo. std-wnbr_seattle_2006_-_marc_martin-bcDoug Whitman, from the Toronto rides, describes the typical case clearly: “I’ve been on four rides so far and the rule is that there is always one person who objects. The number of people with big smiles and cameras are uncountable.” Some have even been known to join in spontaneously as the WNBR rides past.

The photo of the two mothers turning their children’s faces away from the procession of naked cyclists, and making them hold their heads in their hands, while both adults are guiltily smiling behind their own away-turned and ashamed faces, says so much. Gordon Allport describes their behaviour clearly: “Prejudice was not ‘taught’ by the parent but was ‘caught’ by the child from the infected atmosphere.”.

Body shame

These are the negative body-shame attitudes which participation in a WNBR goes so far to counter, to clearly demonstrate to the ‘great unwashed’, the public, all of us, how safe and healthy simple nudity is, whether public or private, there need be no shame, unless it comes from within. In Portsmouth, UK, the ride even got a lot of publicity courtesy of a lady from a fundamentalist church sect who was trying to oppose the ride, helping thereby to bring both the main national TV stations to the event, the ITV and the BBC.

It is clear that our lives are defined by the space between the two camps of; firstly, our thoughts on our own actions; and secondly, by our fear of what other people might think. Never mind Shakespeare, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius pointed this out some two thousand years ago: “All is as thinking makes it so.”

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.