Naturist Red in Tooth and Claw

Naturist Red in Tooth and Claw by Stuart Pitsligo

Violent deaths are occurring in a remote corner of the highlands of Scotland. Strange, animal-like people are killing anyone they find, and no one seems able to defend themselves against their attacks.
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But a local woman, who lives as a naturist in her remote highland home, may be the only person who can understand what they are and stop their attacks. First though, she must confront a terrible secret from her past…
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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.

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?

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.

The WNBR message of enjoyment and fun!

One of the clearest messages one gets from looking at images of people participating in the ride is that they are all enjoying themselves immensely, as are the public too, of course, and this is clear to see from the photographs presented in this book. Certainly some of the more amusing images are where the public and the riders interact in some way.

Clearly exposed fallacy

And these images clearly expose, if you’ll pardon the pun, the fallacy that nudity might be either shocking or dangerous, in any form, whether to adults or to children, in public, to young or old, or in any context. std-turin_world_naked_bike_pride_014-bcWe have a clothed bystander helping a naked rider pack her clothes in her saddle-bag, right in the middle of the high street while next to a double-decker bus full on onlookers; a man next to a proud and naked lady of 84 years standing by the marble column of the Wellington Arch in Hyde Park, London; a naked man posing alongside a group of perfectly happy and fully clothed teenage girls; a young naked student couple keeping each other company, sitting on the grass, while they protest against oil abuse; The naked cameraman interviewing the two clothed policewomen. An elderly clothed couple looking on serenely while surrounded by, and talking to, naked and topless WNBR participants. The naked woman cycling happily beside the clothed woman along the protest route together; the fully uniformed police officers cycling happily and peacefully within the group of naked riders. These are gorgeous little vignettes of tolerance and co-operation within a mass protest.

These images all show the way in which the WNBR enhances itself as an environmental protest, bringing the participants and the public together in a very special clothed and naked chiaroscuro. Many images from the WNBR are truly excellent and belong in the photo-documentary slot of any comprehensive photographic library purporting to be representative of modern times, and we present a frustratingly space-determined selection of these images, from the many hundreds submitted, for your curiosity here. The entertainment value is greatly enhanced when the locations also cry out for recognition. For instance, the London route wends it’s naked way through such famous landmarks as Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, The Mall, Whitehall, Westminster, Waterloo, Fleet Street, The Royal Courts of Justice, Wellington Arch, St Paul’s Cathedral, London Bridge, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London; all with the happy accompaniment of cheering crowds.

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.

Arrested for indecent exposure!

Simon Oosterman has the dubious honour of being the first person to be arrested and charged by a police officer for the apparently heinous crime of being naked while painted blue when he was organizer of the 2005 WNBR in Auckland, New Zealand. He also appeared on the street outside the court fully naked while protesting his innocence, and he is credited with coining the phrase “Stop the indecent exposure to vehicle emissions!” .

Arrested for indecent exposure charges dropped

The charge of Indecent Exposure against Simon was later dropped. Michael Hammond was also charged with Indecent Exposure in Portland, Oregon in 2008 and, in dismissing the charge, the judge Jerome LaBarre ruled that cycling naked had become a “well-established tradition” in Portland and understood as a form of “symbolic protest against cars and possibly the nations dependence on fossil fuels.” std-wnbr1-bcDaniel Johnson, was charged with Indecent Exposure while organizer of the WNBR in Seattle, Washington state in 2010.

Several months after the event these charges were dropped when the office of the City Attorney changed hands: yet another clear case of prudish personal opinion backed up by an official power base.

Gilles was arrested for being naked at the WNBR in Paris, France in 2010; all charges were subsequently dropped. The same year we have photographs of Gilles being accompanied by friendly and smiling police officers in the 2010 London and Brighton UK WNBRs, just across the English Channel. Where is the consistency; where is the even-handed impartial rule of law; in this picture of our authoritarian or free world?

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.

The war on [insert favourite topic here]

The very phrase: ‘the war on [insert favourite topic here]’ is almost always about reducing personal freedom and increasing repression and intolerance in one form or another.

std-img_0683-bcIntolerance breeds hostility and leads only to war and terrorism, whether via Prohibition or Al-Qaida or Communism or Witchcraft. This is why true tolerance is so important for modern civilization to learn.

As John Lennon said: “The main hangup in the world today is hypocrisy and insecurity. If people can’t face up to the fact of other people being naked or smoking pot, or whatever they want to do, then we’re never going to get anywhere.” Lennon was speaking in 1969, have we moved on?

 

Extract from the World Naked Bike Ride book.