[interactive] arts rock!

Lately, there’s been a lot of discussion whether New York City has lost/ is losing its artistic scene and innovative atmosphere – see if this New York Times article can convince you otherwise. However, I’m happy to be involved with two local artists – Andy Golub and Shungaboy – who have a unique approach to art, which allows people to participate in art rather than being its passive consumer (not that there’s anything wrong with that, though).

Andy Golub is a renowned artist that often uses body as canvas, and he often makes a performance of the process itself too by painting bodies of (often non-professional) models at public places in New York. This is probably as interactive and public as art can get: you yourself may be transformed into a piece of art, in the middle of a busy street! Nudity certainly draws attention, but it also certainly makes people think and re-evaluate their attitude towards human body, such as what can be considered ‘beautiful’ or ‘appropriate’, and this is when art becomes meaningful.

I’ve already written up on two events organized by Andy Golub – body art at Times Square in 2013, and the 1st NYC Bodypainting Day last year. You got it right, that was the 1st Bodypainting Day, so the 2nd must follow and so forth ;-) This year, Andy plans to double the capacity for the event in New York some time in July, but he’s also announced a date for the Bodypainting Day in Amsterdam on the 15th of August 2015! You can hear more about these events and Andy Golub’s ideas during his interview as well as see or even participate in nude body painting demonstration this coming Saturday, 24 Jan, in Nyack, NY.

 

Andy Golub has interviewed himself some of participants of his event (check out his Vimeo channel), here are just two of those.

Felicity from Young Naturists America tells how she feels becoming an art object,

and Sidney loves the public aspect of it.

My friend known by his artist name Shungaboy has just started a group for nude male figure drawing. What I like about this group is that everybody joining the group is expected to participate both as an artist and as a model. This creates a friendly atmosphere, and it also must be useful for models and artists alike to try both roles.
nude male drawing 0000 New York, NY, USA

I am certainly not the only one with this impression, as  Shungaboy’s MeetUp group has proved to be very successful from the first class. I actually had never modeled for a drawing or a painting before that, and it was also nice to brush up my painting drawing skills.

nude male drawing 0003 New York, NY, USA

The workshop allowed 15 minutes for each sketch, and with 14 participants, most models were paired.

nude male drawing 0001 New York, NY, USA

What’s nice about sketch format, is that we could put up our works on the wall for immediate discussion, which kept the whole atmosphere stimulating and interactive.

nude male drawing 0004 New York, NY, USA

Having my photo camera handy, I couldn’t resist taking some pictures

nude male drawing 0005 New York, NY, USA

of the painter and the painting process. Now, that I look at these photos, I think the scene of a nude artist painting nude models itself is worth painting too!

nude male drawing 0002 New York, NY, USA

You can see this and another works of the group clicking on the image below.

 

So, whatever you may think of the art scene in New York these days, if you consider yourself an active or artful naturist, you should definitely check out these groups!

Posted in active naturists | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Dream Canyon in Colorado

naturist 0008 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

We had a very short hike last summer in Dream Canyon, west of Boulder, Colorado, but it was clear why it was called so – breath-taking views awaited us there, and to add some more dreamy atmosphere, we hiked in the buff.

Dream Canyon has a bit of history of nude outdoor recreation probably thanks to the fact that it’s somewhat complicated to navigate there while also being close to Boulder, one of the hippest cities in America whose dwellers love outdoors. It took us a while to find a convenient parking lot with numerous trails coming down. 

view 0000 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

At first, the beauty of the canyon was  concealed by the pine forest. We took one of the least used trails, and after just a few minutes of pretty steep descent

naturist 0001 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

we got to an open space with the view over the canyon.

naturist 0007 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

But not only the majestic views impressed me, it was interesting to see such a multi-colored plant! (Which I later found out was Oregon grape holly.)

Oregon grape holly 0000 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

We continued our hike down, however,

naturist 0006 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

and found even better spots to enjoy the views and have our lunch, somewhere midway between the top of the canyon and the creek in its bottom.

naturist 0002 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

This place is well-known among rock climbers, and it’s obvious why!

naturist 0003 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

We didn’t have any climbing equipment, but it was also fun to run down and up those steep trails without it, and any clothes either.

naturist 0004 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

It certainly helps being flexible, and I can see why Mateo has a nickname of Spider-Man in some circles :-)

naturist 0005 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

Next time we should spend a bit more time there and perhaps find a place for [naked] bouldering. When in Boulder… ;-)

Posted in active naturists | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Polar-ish Bare Plunge at Fort Tilden

You may have heard about polar bear plunges on New Year’s day that are popular throughout North America, but apparently my favorite local beach at Sandy Hook hosts a special edition, Polar Bare Plunge. I only had heard about this tradition as a rumor, there’s hardly any info online, but then a friend of mine confirmed that it is indeed held on the first Sunday of the year at noon… I really wanted to go, but in the end I couldn’t make it on time and decided to go with another friend, Miguel, to a closer beach, at Fort Tilden, for our personal Polar Bare Plunge.

Well, it was unfortunate that last Sunday was the warmest day in weeks, with the maximum temperature at +13˚C (55˚F), but nevertheless it seems crazy to me to think I went skinny-dipping just 3 days ago, that it’s -13˚C (9˚F) right now…

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 1.01.40

 

It felt nice to undress outdoors for the first time in a while, and it didn’t feel that cold, I [almost] enjoyed the ocean breeze… We were not sure about the water though.

naturist 0000  Polar Bare Plunge, New York, NY, USA

So, we warmed up by running and jumping.

naturist 0001  Polare Bare Plunge, New York, NY, USA

Miguel rightfully noticed that the more we’d wait, the colder we’d get and ran into the ocean…

naturist 0004  Polar Bare Plunge, New York, NY, USA

I couldn’t figure out from his screaming whether he was in pain or in joy,

naturist 0003  Polar Bare Plunge, New York, NY, USA

but as soon as he ran out of the water, I went in.

naturist 0005  Polar Bare Plunge, New York, NY, USA

Believe it or not, it didn’t feel that painfully cold… perhaps because the water was so cold that the body just got numb immediately :O I ran out after a few seconds, and we repeated the whole thing a couple more times.

This was certainly not the coldest time I’ve been skinny-dipping – I plunged into an ice hole in Moscow on a proper Russian winter day… but then I was just few steps away from a sauna! This time, we could only get dry with towels and warm up by running, so I think it was fortunate after all that the day was warm (for January in New York).  I think I have luck with visiting Fort Tilden on those freak-warm days in otherwise typically cold months – I was there once in the end of November and also in the beginning of April. Next year, I’ll try to make it to Polar Bare Plunge at Sandy Hook though. My friend who made it there this year said there were around 30 people testing the water. We have a year (minus one week) to spread the word, so maybe next time there’ll be a lot more – the more the merrier for such an occasion!

 

Posted in active naturists | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Nakation at Guysers in Rotorua, New Zealand

Preamble: Sorry for not having blogged much lately (despite having lots of materials, as always), but here’s our New Year’s treat, a guest entry about ‘nakation’ (naked vacation) at a clothing-optional bed&breakfast with lots of options for outdoor activities in New Zealand, a country that welcomes New Year among the very first ;-) Happy Nude Year!

Peter and Mike are owners of a men’s clothing optional bed and breakfast in Rotorua, New Zealand called Guysers Gaystay. In 2009 they met each other in Wellington at a ‘men’s symposium group’ which was a group of about 20 guys who would meet for naked pot luck dinners once a month.

Peter and Mike have a lot in common – they both have a love of travel, in particular to Bali and all things Balinese, and a love of naturism and entertaining. Mike’s skills lie in hospitality after working in major hotels and Peter’s skills lie in graphic design, interior decors and gardening. These skills combined proved to be the perfect mix to own a bed and breakfast catering specifically for the gay male naturist (or guys who occasionally like to hang out nude with other men if they are unable to do so in their own lives).

naturist 0005  Guysers Gaystay, Rotorua, New Zealand

Guysers Gaystay B&B is clothing optional and while not all guests choose to go naked, most do, even if its just in the spa pool. Some guests have never tried nudism in a social sense before, but once they give it a go feel very comfortable with it. Men who appear quite shy at first about sitting in the lounge naked or nude sunbathing outdoors with other men quickly become at ease and wonder after an hour or two what all the nerves were about!

guysers-spa

Thus Guysers Gaystay B&B, with its stylish and well-appointed rooms, private outdoor area and spa pool is a great starting point for male nudists to the district of Rotorua, which is a major tourist town in New Zealand offering amazing geothermal parks, lakes, rivers and forests as well as a multitude of recreation, sightseeing, adventure activities and Maori cultural experiences. Beautiful nature walks with amazing scenery are just a short drive away.

naturist 0003  Guysers Gaystay, Rotorua, New Zealand

The geothermal area of Rotorua and surrounds offer some amazing and unique bathing experiences, such as Kerosene Creek

naturist 0002  Guysers Gaystay, Rotorua, New Zealand

and the streams and waterfalls at Wai-O-Tapu – all of which are flowing with hot mineral-enriched thermal water.

naturist 0000  Guysers Gaystay, Rotorua, New Zealand

Unique thermal waterfall provides a hot shower with a great shoulder massage!

While these rivers attract a number of visitors during the day, because they are not commercialised and are very natural, nude bathing is possible here and is quite accepted even amongst those that choose to wear textiles. (But like any nude activity in a public place, discretion and common sense is required).

Exploring some of the lakes in the district it is possible to find secluded bays which are perfect for a naked sunbathe or picnic. One bay in particular is on the northern side of Lake Rotoma located 30 minutes from Rotorua City and then by travelling on an unsealed road for about 6kms (hence its seclusion).

naturist 0004  Guysers Gaystay, Rotorua, New Zealand

Rotorua is located inland about 1 hour drive from the nearest coastline, but it’s certainly worth visiting local beaches! The beach at Papamoa near Tauranga is probably the most recognised nude beach in the Bay of Plenty and the NZ Naturist Federation Sun Clubs of Katikati and Rotota about equal distance from Rotorua (these sun clubs offer day visits for non-members, men and women).

naturist 0001  Guysers Gaystay, Rotorua, New Zealand

There are also some Department of Conservation walkways in the Rotorua region where nude hiking is possible. Usually cars in the carpark at the start of any of these walkways is an indication as to whether people are using the tracks. If yours is the only car there chances are you will be the only ones there and so it should be fine to embark on a naked hike.

If you would like to know more about Guysers Gaystay B&B or any information about Rotorua or naturism in New Zealand in general feel free to contact Peter or Mike by e-mail.

Posted in active naturists | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

recap of some naked surf fun and watching sea life at Black’s Beach

I’ve already written up about Black’s Beach twice – in general, and on our first nude surfing experience there specifically – but as I’m finishing the latest Californian series of blogposts, I can’t help adding some new footage from surfing there again, as well as photos of marine life.

Well, I guess I have to promise to post another video in the future when I improve both my surfing skills and using GoPro camera. It was my very first attempt to shoot a video with GoPro on a surfboard, so I’m pretty confident the next one will be better. In any case, it was still a lot of fun to play with the waves naked. And it was very liberating too, especially after that pretty long (especially when you carry a surfboard) hike down the dirt trail from the parking lot to the beach.

I was very happy to find quite a few other naked surfers (including one woman) on those days. And a couple of days ago, as I was preparing my footage for this post, I got across this recent video of a guy surfing naked at Black’s Beach.

Who knows, maybe some time soon those nude surfing contests will be back at Black’s Beach?!

naturist 0002 Blacks Beach, California, USA

Black’s Beach would be also perfect for a barefoot (or should I say bare all around?) running race, with its perfect flat wet sand (not necessarily submerged in water, as on the photo above, but running in water could be a sport of its own).

sand 0002 Blacks Beach, California, USA

Speaking of sand at Black’s Beach, it fascinated me quite a lot how those sand grains of different colors formed various patterns

sand 0000 Blacks Beach, California, USA

depending on the waves and tides.

sand 0001 Blacks Beach, California, USA

These patterns change from place to place as you walk along the beach,

sand 0003 Blacks Beach, California, USA

and throughout the day too.

sand 0004 Blacks Beach, California, USA

The symmetry of this pattern is amazing

sand 0005 Blacks Beach, California, USA

but inexplicable to me due to lack of enough knowledge in physics and geology 8-)

Even more exciting view followed from the ocean, however!

dolphins 0000 Blacks Beach, California, USA

Well, it could also be a worrisome sight, if I thought those might be sharks… But dolphins are a lot commoner in these water, and the fountain from the blowhole revealed their identity with certainty.

dolphins 0002 Blacks Beach, California, USA

I’ve never seen wild dolphins in the ocean so close!

dolphins 0001 Blacks Beach, California, USA

(I have to specify “in the ocean”, because I did swim with wild river dolphins in the Amazon, and canoed next to sea dolphins in the mangroves in Florida.)

dolphins 0003 Blacks Beach, California, USA

Another time, dolphins appeared at sunset.

dolphins 0004 Blacks Beach, California, USA

They were even more active, probably feasting on a shoal of fish,

dolphins 0006 Blacks Beach, California, USA

and I hoped to get a picture of a dolphin jumping above the setting sun :D Was that too much to ask? Well, I got pretty close to it!

dolphins 0005 Blacks Beach, California, USA

As a bonus afterwards, a seal came by as well, but it was getting too dark to take a decent picture of it.

seal 0000 Blacks Beach, California, USA

Once again, Black’s Beach proved to be an amazing site for beach activities and marine life observation. I can’t wait to go back!

Posted in active naturists | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

hiking and bouldering in Painted Canyon (California)

naturist 0015 Mecca Hills, California, USA

Painted Canyon in California is yet another place for a nice hike in the buff; it’s not an official naturist territory, but it has a history of naturist excursions and feels quite secluded.

view 0015 Mecca Hills, California, USA

This place is also known as Mecca Hills, but Painted Canyon makes better justice as its name – the rocks are quite colorful there!

view 0008 Mecca Hills, California, USA

Shortly after then entrance (parking), you’ll have to get up the ladders on another level of the dry riverbed,

naturist 0001 Mecca Hills, California, USA

but otherwise it’s pretty flat. Except for the vertical rock walls around! It’s difficult to imagine how this place is transformed when the river gets full here, but you can get a rough idea when you see the traces of its work, such as the base of this rock wall being washed off…

naturist 0000 Mecca Hills, California, USA

I posed both as a Titan supporting the whole thing and being succumbed to some kind of gravitational force pulling me deep in the Mother Earth…

naturist 0014 Mecca Hills, California, USA

We continued the hike,

view 0011 Mecca Hills, California, USA

and after a brief clothed break as we let some school group pass by, we got naked again.

Here is just a brief overview of the variety of rocks that you may see there.

I have no idea of their composition and geological names, so I can only offer to enjoy the esthetic aspect of their colorful variety:

view 0002 Mecca Hills, California, USA

dotted

view 0014 Mecca Hills, California, USA

and striped,

view 0013 Mecca Hills, California, USA

green

view 0003 Mecca Hills, California, USA

and pink-red!

naturist 0003 Mecca Hills, California, USA

As we continued, there were a few bifurcations – dried estuaries of the dried river – and we were taking the left ones, but I imagine they all look similar.

view 0012 Mecca Hills, California, USA

I climbed up one of the hills to get a view from above, and it was quite spectacular with all those rocks zigzaggedly eroded by rivers.

naturist 0002 Mecca Hills, California, USA

After that we headed back, but then I saw something I’d been trying to photograph for years –

naturist 0016 Mecca Hills, California, USA

a hummingbird!

Anna's hummingbird 0002 Mecca Hills, California, USA

I knew that they could be around as soon as I saw elongated red flowers that this pollinating bird loved.

Anna's hummingbird 0000 Mecca Hills, California, USA

I managed to take a few pictures, as you can see, even while it was hovering,

Anna's hummingbird 0003 Mecca Hills, California, USA

but the light was quite low already, so given the speed with which hummingbird flaps its wings, they become invisible on the photo :D

Anna's hummingbird 0004 Mecca Hills, California, USA

There was also a plant with red stems, but I’m not sure if that is to attract any kind of animal.

desert plants 0000 Mecca Hills, California, USA

Once I started paying attention to plants, it was quite fascinating to see such a variety,

desert plants 0002 Mecca Hills, California, USA

and many of them blooming, in such arid conditions.

desert plants 0001 Mecca Hills, California, USA

Some cacti though looked somewhat squashed, as if they used up almost all their water cache.

cactus 0001 Mecca Hills, California, USA

This one seemed to be very well protected.

cactus 0000 Mecca Hills, California, USA

Close to the exit, Don knew of another trail that was rather special. As all passages here, it was a dried riverbed, but the river that carved this canyon must have been nothing more than a narrow creek. It looked very surreal.

view 0004 Mecca Hills, California, USA

I’ve only seen such kind of terrain in the movie ‘127 Hours’. It was like a winding labyrinth,  sometimes very narrow,

view 0018 Mecca Hills, California, USA

where you never knew what you’d see at the next turn –

naturist 0006 Mecca Hills, California, USA

perhaps a naked man? :D

naturist 0007 Mecca Hills, California, USA

Mostly the walls looked too steep to try to climb up, but in one place I was tempted to do so, as the cliff wasn’t entirely vertical and had a lot of dents and bumps.

naturist 0008 Mecca Hills, California, USA

It was quite easy to climb up,

naturist 0019 Mecca Hills, California, USA

but I didn’t dare to go all the way up that tower-like rock.

naturist 0013 Mecca Hills, California, USA

I still felt like king of the hill (or king of the castle?)

naturist 0018 Mecca Hills, California, USA

But as it often happens, it was much scarier to go down than to climb up, and the ground seemed suddenly shaky…

naturist 0020 Mecca Hills, California, USA

I made it down without problems though and even went back up half-way to take a picture of the slot canyon from above.

view 0006 Mecca Hills, California, USA

It was a lot of fun to walk through that labyrinth,

naturist 0010 Mecca Hills, California, USA

and it didn’t just turn all the time, we had to go up and down a few times too.

naturist 0021 Mecca Hills, California, USA

It was good though that there was a clear main path, as you wouldn’t want to get lost there.

view 0007 Mecca Hills, California, USA

After we reached a relatively wide part, we decided to turn back.

naturist 0012 Mecca Hills, California, USA

The sun was just about to set, but it was getting dark in the slot canyon already. We headed back fast, as we still needed to set up the camp,

view 0016 Mecca Hills, California, USA

but we still got the last sun rays.

view 0017 Mecca Hills, California, USA

I guess we were so inspired by the views of the Painted Canyon, that despite being quite sleepy we spent a couple of hours painting each other… with light! I actually posted the results of our light-painting frenzy a while ago.

Next day, we visited Morongo Valley,

naturist 0022 Mecca Hills, California, USA

where we could refresh in the remains of the river that was still flowing (and was very cold too).

naturist 0023 Mecca Hills, California, USA

The following night and morning we spent in luxury at Vista Grande Resort in Palm Springs; nudity combined well with luxury too, as it turned out :-)

Posted in active naturists | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

DeAnza resort, Heartbreak Hotel etc.

naturist Heartbreak hotel 0000 DeAnza resort, California, USA

In case you thought this photo depicts DeAnza Springs Resort, don’t worry, it’s in much better condition. This is just one of their sites of interest, where some scenes of a 1988 movie Heartbreak Hotel were shot. The resort hosts a resident nudist community, as well as a motel and RVs to rent; it’s actually the largest clothing-optional resort in North America, according to their website. Below is a photo with the view of DeAnza resort and its surroundings taken from a rocky peak nearby.

view 0003 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

But before I get to tell you how I got to that peak, a couple more words about the resort itself. Typically for a nudist resort, there is a sauna, hot tub and two pools – open-air and indoors, where water volleyball is played. There are also tennis courts, and perhaps the best equipped gym I’ve seen at a nudist resort so far!

naturist gym 0000 DeAnza resort California, USA

However, the most attractive thing about DeAnza Springs Resort is its nature surroundings and possibilities for outdoor recreation: bouldering, and miles of hiking and mountain-biking trails. I was a bit disappointed they didn’t have a bike rental – it would be useful when we explored the ‘rail-trail’, which I described in my previous blogpost. There’s definitely a lot of potential for outdoor activities at DeAnza, and I think they should put more emphasis on it on their website.

view 0005 DeAnza Peak trail, California, USA

The Peak Trail, which was called so for obvious reasons, is a lot shorter than the ‘Rail-trail’ (about a mile), but it’s very diverse in terms of sights and experiences that you get on the way. It starts right off that Heartbreak Hotel movie scene site and goes around a rocky peak.

view 0006 DeAnza Peak trail, California, USA

Right off the start, there are some enormous boulders,

Native American art 0000 DeAnza Peak trail, California, USA

and some rocks with Native American art. There is apparently a lot more of it, but we couldn’t find where… (Better self-guide maps and markings on trails would be my other suggestion to DeAnza Springs resort for improvement!)

plants 0000 DeAnza Peak trail, California, USA

The trail is quite easy to lose; it’s not like you can get really lost, as everything is quite visible and in the open there, but you should watch out for those cacti and other spiky plants.

lichen 0000 DeAnza Peak trail, California, USA

There’s actually quite a lot of vegetation. Lichens may not seem as interesting at first, but it’s quite amazing how they manage to live on bare rocks in the desert.

view 0001 DeAnza Peak trail, California, USA

We lost the trail a couple of times and my travel buddy decided to go back to the campground, while I was determined to climb up the peak. As I was coming up behind the peak, I noticed a few small caves, where I thought I might see more of Native American art or could pose for a picture, so I was looking for a rock on which I could leave my camera on self-timer… I reclined, trying to find the best angle, and then turned around

rattle snake 0001 DeAnza Peak trail, California, USA

and saw a rattle snake right behind me!

https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7546/15700558010_c8a6b0e2ff_z_d.jpg

I jumped away in a split second. Oh well, it was just chilling in the crack between the rocks and didn’t seem to be bothered by my presence. I spent quite a lot of time taking pictures of it, and it barely moved at all.

rattle snake 0000 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

We were warned about rattle snakes, but after that I was certainly a lot more cautious even just stepping over rocks, as I was also reminded of my first encounter with a rattle snake which was also chilling behind a rock in a forest near New York City… Nevertheless, cautious doesn’t mean anxious, so I continued exploring and enjoying the surroundings.

naturist 0001 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

As I mentioned, there were a few small caves that looked very cozy with their rounded smooth edges. Now it was my time to chill on the rocks ;-)

naturist 0002 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

This could be a nice little community of natural studio apartments :-)

naturist 0003 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Well, I’m not sure about living in caves, but cooling down for a bit in one of those was nice.

view 0002 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

The one on the photo above might be perfect for camping, maybe next time!

naturist 0004 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

I’ve seen pictures with nudes in the rocks of this sort by some photographer, but cannot recall who… I wouldn’t be surprised if the pictures were taken here (please leave a comment, if you know the artwork). So, even though this landscape was kind of desolate, it made me at the same time feel comfortable and willing to interact with it.

view 0000 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

The next step was to conquer the peak itself. Here, I saw the rope I was told about at the reception, and it certainly made climbing a lot easier. Here is how it looked like and what I saw from up there :-)

Posted in active naturists | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

“Rail-trail” at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Southern California

naturist 0014 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

This post would have suited last weekend more, as there is a bit of a necromantic element to it… Better later than never, so here it is, another hiking story, but very unusual in a way, as the landscape through which this trail goes is deeply influenced and modified by people of the recent past. I call it a ‘rail-trail’, as it runs along an abandoned railroad, which in its initial times used to be called ‘Impossible Railroad’ due to difficulties with which it was built (in 1919). It was abandoned and then reused a few times in its history with last operation as late as 2011. As nowadays it is not in use, hikers and bikers are free to explore it. Although it might have been [nearly] “impossible” as a railroad, it is obviously very much possible as a hiking and biking trail, perhaps the easiest one in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, with as little change in elevation as it possibly gets in a mountainous terrain.

view 0002 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

We started at DeAnza Springs Resort (I’ll review it in the next post), which is the largest clothing-optional resort in the US by territory. I don’t think I should even mention what option we chose in terms of clothing (none!) – the weather was perfect for that, as it usually happens in Southern California. Just the fist couple of minutes of the trail go away from the railroad through cacti and shrub.

view 0001 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

The first ghostly train was already behind the first hill.

view 0003 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

The train seemed so out of place there, that the fact that we were entering it in the buff didn’t make it much odder than it was…

naturist 0000 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

How often do you get a chance to ride a train naked?

naturist 0002 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

As it should be expected from a ghost train, there was a ghost floating through the aisle… :D

naturist 0003 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

The cars were still in quite solid conditions,

naturist 0001 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

but nature is slowly taking over. Clearly some birds were happy to have this shelter.

view 0032 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

We felt like we could spend a lot of time taking pictures in the train, but our hike had barely started!

naturist 0004 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

This view from the back side seemed irresistible to pose with,

naturist 0005 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

so we had to stop for a couple more pics.

naturist 0006 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

It’d be fun to ride a train like this, but the train didn’t move.

naturist 0007 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Even when we tried to push it!

naturist 0009 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

… after which we were too tired to hike, so we decided to hitchhike instead…

naturist 0012 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Our train never arrived, we had to walk after all.

view 0004 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

The first bridge was soon followed by the first tunnel, of which I wasn’t aware at all. This was just the beginning!

view 0006 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

This tunnel was very short though,

naturist 0013 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

with enough light passing through. Tunnel’s repeating geometry and symmetry were sort of mesmerizing.

view 0033 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

After that straight tunnel, the road started winding quite a lot.

view 0008 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

The valley of Carrizo Creek, which was dry at that time, was still relatively green compared to the rocks above.

view 0007 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Nevertheless, even the rocks were full of desert vegetation,

plant 0000 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

such as cacti and yuccas.

view 0005 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

This dead stem of yucca looked as if it was made of metal.

plant 0001 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

But then we saw a “skeleton” of a cactus!

plant 0002 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

The skeleton was actually sticking out from a cactus that was still alive… so it was half-alive, half-dead… a ZOMBIE cactus! I knew something was wrong in that place…

plant 0003 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

But we continued walking, and there I remembered about an episode of ‘Walking Dead’ TV series that I watched on the flight… In those post-apocalyptic scenes, people were walking on an abandoned railroad towards a refuge center. Once they had to go through a tunnel, and of course there was a zombie ambush! If you look at this view below closely, you’ll see entrances to four tunnels that we had to cross…

view 0010 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Here is a zoomed photo of the farthest two, if you couldn’t see them…

view 0011 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

And just like in the series, there were encouraging signs on the way.

view 0012 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Luckily, these tunnels were pretty short and enough sunlight could pass to see without torches.

view 0013 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Here we saw another ghost train.

view 0014 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

And if that wasn’t odd enough on its own,

view 0015 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

this train turned out to have been used in the city of Montreal! This is probably the most unexpected place to see a metro train from Montreal, and we could only guess why this train was brought here from across the continent and then was just left in the middle of the desert…

view 0016 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

We got creative again with photography, so here is a scene of me typically being late and trying to catch the train in the last moment (would the train be more likely to wait, if I were naked?)

naturist 0018 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

… and a bit of goofing around.

naturist mooning 0017 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

No zombies were spotted there, and only later on pictures did I notice that we were actually watched by the devil… However, judging by his mischievous smile, he was happy about the mooning :D

view 0017 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

We continued our walk and were approaching another tunnel. There seemed to have been some construction planned but never finished.

view 0018 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Here, the railroad was at the edge of a very steep slope, and this was clearly a site of an accident…

view 0034 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

After entering through that massive gate,

view 0029 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

we realized that tunnel was quite different from the ones we had seen before. It looked more like a cave.

view tunnel 0035 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

And it actually looked more like on the photo below, as brightness on the one above was adjusted. It was very dark, especially after leaving the bright sunlight, and we could hardly see the light on the other side of the tunnel… I wasn’t entirely sure if there was one at all…

view tunnel cave 0036 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

And of course we didn’t think of bringing torches, when we planned a day hike in the desert… In this cave, if anywhere, zombies would definitely have caught us! We had to rely mostly on the tactile sense in our feet and could only hope not to step on a corpse or bump onto some kind of “walking dead”! This tunnel was half-mile long! Luckily, pretty soon it was evident that there was indeed light on the other side of the tunnel. The only problem with it is that once you pass the middle of the tunnel and there is more light coming from the front than from the back, you practically can only see this light and nothing else around you…  Nevertheless, zombies missed all those wonderful opportunities to get us, and we were outside in the broad daylight again. Only cacti looked like they were gathering for an attack, but they were certainly not walking, and they were certainly not dead :-)

view 0019 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

We didn’t have to wait long for another tunnel, and then yet another right away, but these were much shorter.

view 0037 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

One more weird abandoned/unfinished structure…

naturist 0019 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Leaving the last of those tunnels, we came to a fork on the railroad with an option to either continue the road or enter yet another tunnel…

view 0020 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Although tunnels provided shade and coolness from blazing sun, we picked the open road, as that tunnel on the side looked particularly uninviting…  We were rewarded with a spectacular view,

view 0021 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

but soon had to go through a different tunnel. This one was was very short though, and we could see the goal of our hike right after it!

view 0022 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

I think I forgot to mention that our hike actually had a goal to see “the tallest curved wooden trestle ever built in the world”, the bridge over Goat Canyon. Yeah, it’s quite specific, but how often do you get a chance to hike naked to the biggest something of the world?

view 0023 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Here it was, but we decided to cross it, as the other side seemed to provide a better view. It was quite scary to walk on that grid 60m (200′) above the ground! And frankly, the fear wasn’t unreasonable, as not all of the grid plates looked stable.

view 0025 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

We saw a group of bikers who continued their way further (and who were utterly over-dressed for that place in my opinion!)

view 0024 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

For us though, it was the final stop, as we still had to make the way back before sunset.

graffiti 0031 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

It was funny to see those messages on the cargo container: “longest hike of my life… brutal” and “I’ll be back when there’s helicopter service”. I’d have to agree with the one in between, who called the authors of the other two “wimps”. 11km one way is a good exercise, but it was still more of a long stroll than a “brutal” hike!

naturist 0020 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

By that time, we forgot about threat of zombies, but I was a little afraid to look inside that wagon. There was… nothing! A much scarier sight revealed on now the opposite side of the Goat Canyon – a crushed tunnel. It was actually that same side tunnel that we saw at the railroad fork a little earlier… I hope no one was hurt in that disaster.

view 0026 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

But then, from the corner of the Goat Canyon, we could see the bridge in its full glory.

view 0000 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

The tallest curved trestle in the world!

view 0027 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Certainly not recommended for people who are afraid of heights… or zombies!

view naturist trestle bridge 0027 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Posted in active naturists | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

hiking up the hills around Athens

After posting about our splendid hike at Mt Olympus, I probably shouldn’t call the activities I describe in this post ‘hikes’ – a ‘stroll’ may be a better word. Regardless, Athens has quite a few hills at its borders, and they provide magnificent views of the city and an easy escape into the wild-ish. Not many people seem to be aware of that, so it was easy for us to find trails where we could hike naked without “disturbing” anyone.

naturist 0001 Alsos Skopeftiriou hill, Athens, Greece

Alsos Skopeftiriou hill at the eastern edge of Athens provides an immense panoramic view.

view 0002 Alsos Skopeftiriou hill, Athens, Greece

It’s covered by a nice mix of trees, shrubs and grasses.

https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3952/15668897492_8732d2039c_o_d.jpg

It is nice to sit and relax there on a later autumn or an early spring day, which would be too cold for a beach but good enough to sunbathe there.

naturist 0000 Alsos Skopeftiriou hill, Athens, Greece

There are lot of different flowers,

flower 0002 Alsos Skopeftiriou hill, Athens, Greeceflower 0003 Alsos Skopeftiriou hill, Athens, Greece

some manage to thrive just in a crack in the rock!

flower 0000 Alsos Skopeftiriou hill, Athens, Greece

We weren’t the only ones enjoying those flowers though :-)

flower 0001 Alsos Skopeftiriou hill, Athens, Greece

Just in case you don’t like sitting in the grass, there’s a cozy rock that lets you to recline and enjoy the perfect view of Athens!

naturist 0002 Alsos Skopeftiriou hill, Athens, Greece

Then we also found a base a column – doubtfully from the times of Ancient Greece, but it gave another opportunity for nude photography with an obvious influence from Greek statues.

naturist 0006 Alsos Skopeftiriou hill, Athens, Greece

It’s certainly worth staying there till sunset, as you’ll be rewarded with yet another beautiful view with a silhouette of Acropolis!

view 0003 Alsos Skopeftiriou hill, Athens, Greece

Oros Egaleo hills lie in the opposite part of Athens, at the western boundary of the city. So, you’ll have a view of the city and aforementioned Alsos Skopeftiriou hill as well as mountainous area of Dasos Kesarianis behind it.

view 0000 Oros Egaleo hills, Athens, Greece

This time, I was under Ancient Greek influence too: wearing nothing but sandals. I got a pair of Spartan-styled sandals from the ‘poet shoe-maker’ in Athens, Stavros Melissinos.

naturist 0000 Oros Egaleo hills, Athens, Greece

This hill was full of flowers too, but interestingly of mostly different species than at Alsos Skopeftiriou.

flower 0001 Oros Egaleo hills, Athens, Greece

And again, we weren’t the only ones enjoying those flowers :-)

flower 0000 Oros Egaleo hills, Athens, Greece

There’s a pretty dense coniferous forest at the foothills,

naturist 0003 Oros Egaleo hills, Athens, Greece

so you need to go higher to get the best views.

naturist 0002 Oros Egaleo hills, Athens, Greece

With numerous trails and intersections, it may be hard to choose where to go,

naturist 0001 Oros Egaleo hills, Athens, Greece

but it probably doesn’t matter much – as long as you go up, you’ll end up with magnificent views of Athens.

naturist 0004 Oros Egaleo hills, Athens, Greece

Although I am not a big fan of using nude imagery in advertisement of clothing, I think it is very appropriate to give some props to Stavros Melissinos‘s sandals again with the photo below (I hope he’d approve it :-)). I really like how light and open they feel, and yet they stay firmly on your feet thanks to long laces. You will have to visit Stavros Melissinos‘s store in Athens to buy them, as he wants to make sure they fit well to every customer.

naturist 0008 Oros Egaleo hills, Athens, Greece

In any case, whatever you wear (or not wear), I highly recommend hiking up the hills around Athens.

Posted in active naturists | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

on the way to Greek gods (hiking up Mt Olympus)

view 0000 Litochoron beach, Greece

Most of our Greek adventures have involved sea and beach in some way, and this one is no exception, but the primary goal was to hike/climb up Mount Olympus. It is also the home of the twelve Olympian gods (according to Greek myths, that is), most of whom, at least male ones, used to hang out naked; so, no wonder Joe and I wanted to visit them wearing that divine attire. Mount Olympus is also among the most topographically prominent mountains and is located next to the sea, so we decided to go all the way from the sea level (at 0m) to the top (at 2,917m).

naturist 0001 Litochoron beach, Greece

We just checked out the beach right across the road from the Litochoro train station, and it was fantastic! Long beach edged with wooded cliffs and just a few people around. What could be better?

naturist 0002 Litochoron beach, Greece

Some fresh blackberries perhaps? We didn’t have too much time stay at the beach, however. After a brief swim, we were ready to walk up to the village of Litochoro.

view 0001 Litochoron beach, Greece

Almost immediately after we got on the road (not naked), we got offered a lift to the village on a pickup truck by three brothers from there. Since that would have been the least interesting part of our trek anyways – just some fields at the foothills of the mountains, we took on the offer, which saved us an hour or two of walking.

view 0000 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

We got some more food at the village and headed to the start of E4 trail (it’s a trail that crosses most of Southern Europe, and we’ve used it in Crete too).

view 0001 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

Shortly after the entrance into Olympus National Park (at ~400m above sea level), I felt comfortable to get naked again. As we started our hike quite late in the day, we didn’t expect to encounter many people on the way. Also, from what what we read online, it appeared that most hikers preferred to start much higher, driving up first to Prionia; to me, this part of the trail – from Litochoro to Prionia – seemed actually the most beautiful.

naturist 0000 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

On this trip, I mastered the technique of traveling really light. The only unnecessary weight was the clothes, though the weather in mountains is unpredictable… I liked the idea of carrying some stuff on the belt, which released a lot of weight from my back.

naturist 0001 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

My backpack was very small too, and I appreciated Deuter’s ‘aircomfort’ configuration: it leaves space between the backpack and back for airflow and distributes some weight from shoulders to lower back.

naturist 0002 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

Some parts of the trail are quite steep and aren’t very stable,

naturist 0014 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

but overall it’s a very pleasant hike of moderate difficulty.

view 0003 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

Views like these make any challenges on the way rewarding.

view 0018 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

As the trail got more comfortable, I even took of my sandals and hiked barefoot:

naturist 0004 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

I wanted to experience this legendary place with all senses.

view 0005 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

If you divert for any reason (like we did on a few occasions),

naturist 0015 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

make sure to go down to E4 trail, which is marked regularly.

view 0004 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

Even though it feels like summer in most of Greece till mid-October or so, at higher elevations autumn colors appear earlier.

naturist 0003 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

On the other hand, there were also a few pretty flowers along the trail as well.

flower 0000 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greeceflower 0001 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greeceflower 0002 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

The trail winds along the Enipeas river crossing it several times.

frog 0000 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

So, you’re likely to see some frogs and maybe even salamanders too (we weren’t lucky enough for the latter).

naturist 0005 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

After sunset, we decided to camp at the first place with flat surface, preferable by the river. We were lucky to find a spot like that pretty soon!

naturist 0007 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

It was a perfect quiet night only interrupted by the river murmur and occasional noise of falling rocks (somewhere far!)

naturist 0008 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

We woke up to see the sun shining over the mountain slopes already.

naturist 0009 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

After a brief refreshment in the river, we took off.

view 0019 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

The trail went through the woods for a while, opening to some more stunning (and now sunny) views.

view 0006 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

The next river crossing was via pretty wooden bridge.

naturist 0011 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

At this point, we realized we had lost our map. Although, it was pretty clear how to follow the trail without it, I decided to run back, as we looked at it not too long before that. I heard many voices approaching (it was the first big group of people on that hike), so I put on my shorts, but it turned out to be a bunch of Czech guys, who probably would have been only slightly amused if they’d seen me naked. Turned out they picked the map, so I didn’t even have to look for it. We let them pass ahead and enjoyed the trail to ourselves most of the time again.

view 0020 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

As the day was warming up, it was nice to refresh in the river again.

naturist 0012 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

The natural views were amazing,

view 0021 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

but it was also nice to see a bit of old (medieval) craft  – a tiny monastery Agio Spileo.

view 0007 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

Here we saw more people, as it was already pretty close to Prionia, so some of the hikers who started/finished there might go down to see this cave.

view 0022 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

Still, the trail up from there was not crowded at all,

naturist 0013 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

and we took advantage of those small pools in the river for some more skinny-dipping.

naturist 0017 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

The last and best spot was at the Enipea waterfalls.

naturist 0022 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

We had just a brief return to civilization at Prionia (at 1100m), as we aimed to reach Spilios Agapitos Refuge aka simply Refuge A (at 2100m) by night.

view 0008 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

This part of the trail is probably the most visited,

view 0010 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

we didn’t dare to hike naked for the most part. I didn’t mark it on our map of naturist locations either, but this bit and other trails from Prionia are shown on google maps.

view 0024 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

The sign indicating that we were on the way to gods was encouraging,

view 0009 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

so as the views, that indicated that we were approaching the forest borderline.

view 0015 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

One of the meadows had plenty of raspberries that were in their prime ripeness and tasted divine!

raspberry 0000 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

Among the few animals that we saw around were a friendly robin

robin 0001 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

and a timid lizard.

lizard 0000 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

By nightfall, we reached the refuge, totally exhausted. It was really cool to be able to see our starting point – the sea and the town of Litochoro.

view 0011 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

In the morning I felt a bit mountain-sick, so I had a slight envy to those lazy hikers who trekked with/on donkeys :-)

donkeys 0000 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

However, we took off shortly after breakfast, as the gods were calling us :-)

view 0012 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

We knew they must have been somewhere close!

view 0013 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

Most hikers traveled in huge groups,

view 0023 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

so we decided to divert onto a side trail.

naturist 0023 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

Now we could see top of Mt Olympus and its base all the way down to the sea in one view!

view 0016 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

At this point though, the only way up to the top from this side trail was to climb up.

view 0017 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

We saw a couple of guys do that in the distance but decided not to follow: we still had to go down all the way to Litochoro on that day, and I felt pretty weak from mountain sickness at this altitude. We’ll have to return on another occasion to go all the way up and say hi to the Olympian gods.

naturist 0019 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

As we turned around,

naturist 0018 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

we saw the sunlit valley in mist, a view that could be appropriately described as divine.

naturist 0020 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

Now, if we only could fly!

naturist 00201 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

Posted in active naturists | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments