walking through the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

naturist 0010 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

The oldest living forest is as sacred as it gets for someone who is into natural history – and that is what Schulman grove of the ancient bristlecone pine forest is. Just imagine walking among the living beings that are as old the Egyptian pyramids! Discovery of these ancient plants was very important for dendrochronology, the technique of dating events, particularly climatic changes, by the characteristic patterns of annual growth rings tree trunks. There is a nice tourist information centre, where you can get brochures about these trees and maps with the trails. This is not an official naturist territory, but being a part of the Inyo National Forest, it is a federal land, and there’s no federal law against nudity; needless to say we wanted to experience the hike in this ancient forest ‘as nature intended’, naked. We of course picked the longest trail, which is ~4 miles, and didn’t see any other hikers.

cones 0000 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

Looking at the cones, you clearly see how this tree got its name. Young seed cones are quite brightly colored; it takes them two years to mature.

cones 0001 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

Pollen cones are also bright but much smaller and mature within one season.

cones 0003 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

Given very dry conditions in the area, fallen cones accumulate in massive numbers before decaying,

cones 0006 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

sometimes forming “rivers” of cones.

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Some lucky seeds would sprout in conditions where hardly any other would be able to…

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and eventually would grow for thousands years on!

tree 0010 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

Perhaps a part of the bristlecone pine can die, even a large part, but even then it can go on with whatever is left. We were hiking on a beautiful warm and calm sunny day… but at these elevations of more than 3km above sea level, conditions can change drastically from hot to cold – throughout the day, and throughout the year; and surely it can get very windy there too.

view 0010 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

There is hardly any rain, winter brings precipitation but as snow. As the brochure explained, the bristlecone pines reach their record age not despite these harsh conditions but rather because of them, because they have to grow extremely slow. However, even though bristlecone pines clearly dominate this ancient forest,

view 0002 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

there are some other plants too.

Rock Spiraea creates a very dense moss-like cover, soft to touch.

plant 0000 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

But it’s certainly no moss, with its flowers sticking out… and attracting flies. I thought that they would stink, as many flowers do when they use flies for pollination, but I couldn’t smell anything.

plant 0001 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

The bushes of mountain mahogany cover a few less steep slopes.

tree 0007 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

Their long fuzzy-tailed seeds drill into the soil, when moisture causes them to untwist (according to the brochure).

tree 0008 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

If you are not so much into botany,

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the views are pretty amazing too!

view 0004 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

And it’s just a very pleasant hike – not too easy, but not too demanding either. (But keep in mind there are also shorter trails, if you don’t have much time or aren’t adjusted well to lower oxygen levels at this altitude).

naturist 0011 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

Also keep in mind that sun radiation is much stronger at this altitude;

view 0007 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

so even though I’m not a fan of hats, I appreciated I had one on the hike (I hope that still counts as a naked hike).

naturist 0001 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

But you can always chill in the shade too…

Sitting on the roots of these trees, you can’t help thinking of their impressive longevity… or brevity of our civilization? The oldest known specimen has lived virtually throughout our entire written history!

naturist 0002 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

And some of them offer even cozier seats for lounging

naturist 0013 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

(or artsy photos, if you consider the first one of this blogpost as such).

PS For weather reference, this hike was done in early September of 2016.

Marshall’s beach in San Francisco

Marshall’s Beach in San Francisco is a great place for a sunny afternoon within easy reach of downtown;  you can be naked there and enjoy one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

naturist 0000 Marshall's Beach, San Francisco, California, USA

That’s where Tam and I headed after Burning Man last year; in the wake of spending more than a week in a dusty desert, we were clearly drawn to large bodies of water (and it doesn’t get any larger than the Pacific Ocean).

pelicans 0000 Marshall's Beach, San Francisco, California, USA

We could have been just chilling on the beach, but we thought we’d rather have another session of acro-yoga, as I didn’t get enough of it during the festival, because I was mostly taking pictures of it.

naturist acro-yoga 0000 Marshall's Beach, San Francisco, California, USA

We kicked off with the ‘front bird’,

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and then moved on to more complicated poses.

naturist acro-yoga 0002 Marshall's Beach, San Francisco, California, USA

Tam was keen on practicing ‘basing’ with hands,

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and it worked out pretty well.

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The iconic Golden Gate Bridge surely provided a perfect backdrop for the photos.

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To me personally, it was also a bit ironic to do it by the symbol of San Francisco, because the very first time I tried acro-yoga was also naked, in the Golden Gate park of San Francisco, for which we ended up getting fines, even though it was before nudity became outlawed in the city.

naturist acro-yoga 0007 Marshall's Beach, San Francisco, California, USA

Well, this naked acro-yoga session ended just fine, since Marshall’s Beach is officially recognized as a naturist spot, so as the neighboring Baker Beach (where we went after Burning Man in 2012).

view 0001 Marshall's Beach, San Francisco, California, USA

And as pretty much any beach on the West Coast, Marshall’s Beach is poised to have a stunning sunset!

Bare Burro – 5k running race in SoCal

There aren’t many better things to do in spring than welcome the return of warm weather with some nude recreation. If you live in Southern California, or plan to visit in early April, one of the best ways to do that is at the 7th annual Bare Burro nude 5k race at Olive Dell Nudist Ranch – on the 10th of April.

It’s become a very popular event, attracting over 300 runners,

Bare Burro racers start run

who challenge themselves on a run through the foothills surrounding Olive Dell Ranch near Colton, CA – just check out the aerial footage above! It’s a challenging course over dirt roads and trails, beginning and ending at the clubhouse and pool area. It’s become a favorite with several running clubs including the Los Angeles, Long Beach and Palm Springs frontrunners – meaning that there is some very spirited competition and highly competitive finishing times. It’s also popular with those who prefer a more leisurely pace, including some who use it as a great reason to do a 3.1 mile naked hike in the hills.

Olive Dell Ranch naturist resort California

After the run, all of the facilities of Olive Dell are open for the day. There’s a big swimming pool, huge jacuzzi, lots of lounge chairs and deck space, restaurant, refreshments bar, showers, and for those with extra energy – a chance to continue to hike and run the local hills.

Bare Burro run race Winner

Awards are presented to top finishers in all age and sex categories, with special plaques for the top three finishers overall.

Olive Dell Ranch welcome

Everyone is welcome! Runners range from around 20 to over 80. Men, women, gay, straight, singles, couples, anyone looking for a fun day of nude recreation with several hundred similarly minded people.

Registration is open on site at the Olive Dell Ranch or online. It’s $30 through March 31, $35 through April 9 and $40 if you register on-site and race day.

Here is a promo from the last year, but keep in mind that the date was different!

PS This is a guest entry from Don/Things To Do Nude/

Bare Burro naked 5K run

When I wrote about fun and active naked events this spring across the US, I forgot to include a naked running race in Southern California that certainly meets the criteria: Bare Burro 5K Run at Olive Dell Ranch this Sunday, 19th! Now, that my friend Don has sent me a video he produced to promote the event, I’m racing to share it with you!

Good luck and have fun!

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 😎

Even more exciting view followed from the ocean, however!

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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 😀 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!

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 😀

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.

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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? 😀

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.

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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 🙂

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 🙂

“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…

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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… 😀

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.

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

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Even when we tried to push it!

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

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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 😀

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

Awesome bouldering at a foursome date

This is a guest entry from my friend Ben who you might remember from the post about Burning Man, where he joined me for a naked round of capoeira game 🙂

I was visiting a couple in Grass Valley, CA, that my wife and I had been skyping with for a possible polyamorous relationship. When we arrived, they showed us around town and took us to this beautiful place at the South Yuba river where people of all ages were skinny dipping, and I thought to myself “how often does one get the opportunity to go bouldering naked?” So I chose some short cliffs that wouldn’t pose too horrible an injury potential and let my wife and the other married couple bathe in the sun and take pictures while I “crazily risked my life.”

naturist bouldering 0001  South Yuba River, CA, USA

It was definitely a memorable experience, and more so for the bruises on the soles of my feet afterward. I’d love to go back again and find an area with an overhang so that I could fall off the rock purposefully into the cool summer water.

naturist bouldering 0000 South Yuba River, CA, USA

Hiking to Sykes hot springs in Big Sur

Our bike trip continued without much naked time as we were passing through farmland and coastal towns on the way to Big Sur. On our approach to the town of Marina, we had a very pleasant surprise at Del Monte Road. This amiable fellow on the photo below greeted us and offered some energy bars!

farmer 0000 Big Sur, CA, USA

He used to be an avid biker too, and now that is his way to contribute to the community. In his spare time, he goes out to local bike routes and supports bikers with some calories and a smile. That was a great encouragement of what was going to be our longest ride in one day – 85 miles (almost 140km). If you don’t think it’s that much, keep in mind that our bikes were loaded with camp gear and food, and the road along Big Sur coast was very hilly.

view 0001 Big Sur, CA, USA

We were constantly rewarded by such beautiful views. The weather was perfect for such a ride: warm and cloudy, with mild refreshing ocean breeze.

view 0000 Big Sur, CA, USA

The sun would appear once in a while briefly, and when it reached the silver surface of the ocean, beams of light almost seemed touchable… It was already getting dark though when we hoped to have reached a campground that would bring us close to something interesting in Big Sur. We settled on Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park campground and lodge right off the Pacific Coast Highway 1, it seemed to be pretty close to natural host springs of Sykes, another advice of Dan. We were greeted with a piece of pie at the entrance, which was prepared for the bikers of “AIDS/Life Cycle – Ride to end AIDS” that happened in the same time… We were setting up the tent in the dark and couldn’t wait use some of the lodge’s amenities: a very decent restaurant and a hot shower!

Next day, we started our hike by the Pine Ridge trail. It was easy to follow as it has clear signs for it… Or maybe not so clear, as some of the branches of the trail that looked very much like trails to us we marked as “not a trail” 😀

trail sign 0000 Pine Ridge Trail, Big Sur, CA, USA

This trail goes along the Big Sur National Wild & Scenic River, and it was indeed wild and scenic!

view 0000 Pine Ridge Trail, Big Sur, CA, USA

I was desperate to see an elusive mountain lion, known in the area, but it was too much to ask… and also, they usually avoid humans, so if you do see them, it’s not necessarily a good sign. The views were quite stunning anyways.

view 0001 Pine Ridge Trail, Big Sur, CA, USAview 0002 Pine Ridge Trail, Big Sur, CA, USA

It was interesting to see how different two slopes of Big Sur canyon were: the one facing the sun was almost bare, void of trees, and the more shady one facing north was covered with coniferous forest.  We could also feel that the climate was quite different from the shore shortly after beginning of the hike: the air was much dryer and the clouds didn’t seem to come up there often.

view 0003 Pine Ridge Trail, Big Sur, CA, USA

Some trees were damaged by infamous Californian wildfires, but it was good to see that many of them withstood the fire and seemed full of life again.

revived redwood 0000 Pine Ridge Trail, Big Sur, CA, USA

That was also where I saw my first hummingbird, but it disappeared before I could change the lens on my camera… So here are just its beloved red flowers of zauschneria that it fed on.

zauschneria 0000 Pine Ridge Trail, Big Sur, CA, USA

Pine Ridge trail crosses a couple of springs of the Big Sur river basin, so we could refresh on the waynaturist 0000 Pine Ridge Trail, Big Sur, CA, USA

and we didn’t have to carry much water with us (I have an ultra-fine water filter pump).

naturist 0001 Pine Ridge Trail, Big Sur, CA, USA

We packed very light, Tam and I shared one backpack which we swapped carrying, so it was a very pleasant easy hike. It was 7 miles to Sykes springs, which we did mostly bare and barefoot too – Tam, part of it, and I, all the way.

naturist 0002 Pine Ridge Trail, Big Sur, CA, USA

When the trail crossed the Big Sur river, we knew it was time to look out for Sykes hot springs and find a place for camping. We saw some tents along the river and continued towards the hot springs… and we couldn’t believe it when we found a perfect camping spot right across one of the hot springs! While two other guys enjoyed the hot spring, we claimed the spot and pitched the tent. Those two were heading back quite soon after that, as they came just for a day.

naturist 0000 Sykes Hot Springs, Big Sur, CA, USA

After our 85 mile bike ride the day before and then 7 mile hike, we were happy to stay overnight and relax at the hot springs at full.

view 0000 Sykes Hot Springs, Big Sur, CA, USA

Could there be a more perfect natural campsite? I would say it was like heaven, except that the hot spring was very much a manifestation of earthly activities, being produced by the emergence of geothermally heated groundwater from the Earth’s crust. Neither its sulfuric odor was amongst the most pleasant smells you could think of, but we felt like in paradise.

naturist 0001 Sykes Hot Springs, Big Sur, CA, USA

There are only 3 ‘tubs’ at Sykes, but we were lucky to have “ours” mostly just for ourselves.

fern view 0000 Sykes Hot Springs, Big Sur, CA, USA

I couldn’t help noticing that the tubs were surrounded by ferns which always a prehistoric look… We had a very quiet, starry sky and babbling brook kind of night… followed by early morning warm up in the hot springs.

naturist 0002 Sykes Hot Springs, Big Sur, CA, USA

Too bad we couldn’t stay at the hot springs much longer, but the hike on our way back was great too. We didn’t see a mountain lion,

mountain quail 0000 Pine Ridge Trail, Big Sur, CA, USA

but we did come across of mountain quails,

western fence lizard 0000 Pine Ridge Trail, Big Sur, CA, USA

western fence lizards,

Steller's jay 0000 Pine Ridge Trail, Big Sur, CA, USA

and a Steller’s jay dealing with its favorite meal, an acorn. We had our meal at the campground too, jumped on out bike and headed out South… Unfortunately, Niko’s bike broke and we could go as fast as we should. But luckily, as night was approaching, we got a ride from a very friendly couple who agreed to squeeze all our 3 bikes into their SUV and drive us to the next campground. This helped us to get back on schedule, and next day we rode to San Luis Obispo station to take the train all the way to San Diego.