HIKING NUDE: THE REACTIONS! by Steve of Seattle
Late Spring hike at Snow Lake.
It was September 1990 and I found myself unemployed with a couple of month's severance pay after the computer company I worked for merged with another.
I was in my late thirties at the time and hiking had always been a passion of mine. Living in the suburbs east of Seattle places me within an hour or two of numerous hiking trails in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Since the summers are short here in the northwest, I decided to spend most of September hiking and look for another job later!
My previous hiking had always been done on weekends where the wilderness trails along I-90 east of Seattle are quite crowded; so I had never seriously considered the possibility of hiking them nude. But now that I was free weekdays, the thought of a nude hike on an unbusy trail enticed me.
I picked a Tuesday morning, and when I arrived at the Snow Lake trailhead I was surprised at the small number of cars in the parking lot. I nonetheless started up the trail in the cool morning air wearing shorts and a T-shirt with my dog enthusiastically running up ahead of me.
The air warmed as the trail gained elevation and emerged from the thick stand of trees which exist from the beginning of the trail. My T-shirt came off. Several times I told myself that I would take my shorts off when I got to a certain place on the trail, but whenever I got there, I would chicken out and pick a new spot further up the trail. I kept worrying what kind of reaction I'd get if another hiker came across me.
After hiking nearly 2 miles, I arrived at the first of several switchbacks going over the ridge to a lake. I stopped for a breather and some water and decided now was the time to take those shorts off. I hadn't seen anyone on the trail yet and it can get very warm going up those switchbacks.
My heart was racing with nervous excitement as I started up the trail wearing nothing but boots and socks. A small breeze was blowing now and the feeling of it hitting my entire body was wonderful! I became more relaxed as I went on since the switchbacks let me see up and down the trail quite a ways.. and I could see no one. But, as I approached the last switchback, I started getting nervous again and put my shorts back on. There exists a large rock at the top of the ridge that people climb onto for a great view of the lake, but the trail can also be seen from it as well!
Snow Lake from the rock.
Upon my arrival at the top of the ridge, and finding no one on the rock, I took the shorts off again and climbed onto the rock t o relax for a while. After munching on a cookie or two and enjoying the warm sun, I decided to continue on the trail nude as I still had seen no one. I was starting to pack up when a lone female hiker passed by the rock on her way to the lake. She saw me up there and could probably tell I was nude. I waited for a while, giving her time to get far enough ahead of me before I started down the switchbacks to the lake.
Down the rock and over the top of the ridge I ventured, admiring the view as I went. I got around the first switchback and to my surprise, the female hiker had stopped under a large tree for a break too! I think I was more startled to see her than she was seeing me walk by nude! I blurted out, "Sorry, I thought you'd be way down the trail by now". She just smiled and told me not to worry about it.
It was actually exhilarating that someone had unexpectedly seen me hiking nude and didn't care. This was only one person though, and I was wondering how others would react. I continued down to the lake and went to my usual spot to hang out for a hour or so. I dove into the frigid lake for a quick swim before heading back onto the trail for the return trip.
'Hanging out' at the lake.
Back on the trail, I kept wondering what other hikers would say if they saw me hiking nude. It was early afternoon and I knew others would still be coming in to the lake. The nude portion hiking in was great, so I decided to hike out nude once I got to the switchbacks. So back up the switchbacks I went, keeping my shorts at the top of the pack so I could cover up quickly if I heard or saw people coming that I thought might be offended. I was so jumpy, I wound up putting my shorts on twice when I heard someone coming. I wasn't enjoying the hike as I was so busy listening and looking for others. But then, after rounding a blind curve on the trail and having no time to cover up, there was a couple coming at me. I said hi as I came upon them. The guy looked surprised but said hello and the girl looked me over and smiled. I felt relieved again that people just didn't seem to care I was hiking nude.
I paused at the top of a hill and moved my shorts to the bottom of the pack so I couldn't get to them as fast. Not that I really wanted a lot of people to see me nude, but I needed to get a broader sense of reactions to decide if nude hiking was an acceptable activity and wouldn't offend most people. So, down the trail I went. I came across about 30 hikers on the way out with no negative reactions that I could sense except for a few surprised looks. The interactions were much the same as if I was hiking 'normal' - most people said hi and some passed by with no reaction. Two females hiking together stopped and talked to me about my dog for a bit and didn't mention my nudity, then wandered on.
Back in the car, driving home, I felt good that no one seemed to mind that I had hiked nude that day. That, combined with the sheer pleasure of it, I decided to do it again soon!
I have been hiking nude when conditions permit ever since then. The physical comfort, coupled with feeling free of inhibitions and being 'natural' in the wilderness, is quite an experience. My wife has gone with me a few times and liked being nude in areas where there was little chance of coming across a clothed hiker. However, she nervously covers up whenever we approach someone else. So, I don't have any personal experience on the reaction of clothed hikers coming across a nude hiking couple; but I wouldn't imagine the reactions would be any different.
There is no law against nudity on the federal land I hike over and I have ran across many hikers off the trail enjoying the outdoors nude. I came across a male ranger once and a female ranger another time with no comments about hiking nude. I do restrict my nude hiking to times when the trails have less use to minimize running across someone who may be offended. It's a kick hiking nude over snow covered trails in late spring when the sun is hot! Great for the all over tan too! I cover up when arriving at the destinations where clothed hikers are sitting around relaxing and announce myself as being nude when coming up behind a slower hiker moving the same direction. Clothed hikers seem much more relaxed if they see me coming and aren't instantly surprised at my nudity.
Hiker relaxing at the Denny Creek 'Bathing Rocks'.
There have been some negative reactions over the years, but very minimal considering the number of hikers that have come across me. I'd guess that around 400 hikers have seen me in 8 years of nude hiking, this from about 5 nude hikes each summer and roughly 10-15 encounters on each. I have had more negative comments about my dog not being on a leash (even though she's under voice control) than I have about hiking nude!
There have been an occasional surprised or shocked look. This has happened when hikers don't see me coming and are suddenly confronted by my nudity. Their look quickly fades as they discover I'm just another hiker that happens to be nude!
Females occasionally turn to look away as I walk by, but I've looked back at them as I walk on and have caught many of them watching me walk away! Must not bother them too much!
A handful of guys hiking with their female companions have given me looks of disapproval, but their companions usually smile and don't seem offended. After passing a couple once, the guy turned back and told me "You're not in the wilderness, buddy". His companion shrugged her shoulders in a manner that told me she didn't care.
This probably isn't really a negative, but I can't call it a positive either. I came around a blind curve confronted immediately by 3 females in their early 20's. The girl in front let out a scream and her companions started laughing when they saw what made her scream. I told her, "Sorry, I never got a scream out of anyone before". She then said she was sorry for screaming and that I just startled her.
Bridge over Denny Creek.
The positive reactions have been numerous and have been subtle as smiles, to verbal comments like "Alright!" or "I wish I had the guts to do that" and "That's what I should be doing".
A few people have stopped and talked to me about my dog or ask questions about the trail, not seeming to care that I was nude.
Sometimes, small groups of hikers have laughed among themselves after passing me. Probably making jokes at my expense. Some possibly, at the size of my penis, which shrinks up and hugs close to my body while hiking nude. Oh well, at least they're laughing!
I came across a lone female hiker who said "I've got to tell my husband about this!". She told me she had always wanted to hike nude, but couldn't get her husband to do it and didn't feel safe hiking nude alone being female.
On a trail that goes to 2 lakes, I was hanging out nude at my favorite spot on the first lake when a female and her two male companions came down the side trail to where I was. They could see I was nude, but didn't seem to care. She came down and asked if they could share the spot. They all got naked and did some swimming, etc. I told them to enjoy as I was headed up to the next smaller lake. When I was returning nude from the small lake, I ran across them again as they headed toward it. She said, "Alright, that's what we should be doing!" I told them I hadn't seen anyone up at the lake and started on my way down. I turned back and noticed they had stopped and she was removing her clothes! It felt good that I had inspired someone else to try nude hiking!
By talking with a several hikers and noticing others' comments and expressions, my general perception is most clothed hikers don't mind or at least tolerate an encounter with a nude hiker. Some seem to enjoy it while many others are amused by it. It's hard to speculate what the expressionless one's think, but I'd guess most of them aren't offended and are being polite or are shy. I'd also bet that most have probably never been nude outdoors and don't understand why someone would want to hike nude. The one's that turn away as I walk by and then sneak peeks amuse me!
I should be back up there this summer. So, if you're hiking in the Cascades east of Seattle this summer and run across a naked guy with good size mole in the center of his right buttock, say hi!
Steve can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to direct any questions,
make comments, or share your own experiences with him.