FreeForm Festival 2015: camp application submitted

This Wednesday, we submitted our theme-camp application for FreeForm Festival (which, in case you haven’t seen my previous post about it, is North-Eastern version of Burning Man, on a smaller scale and with grass). We’ll be a camp of a dozen people, many of whom will go to Burning Man as well, so it will be our chance to try some ideas regarding  our theme – Gymnasium.

Our camp is themed around gymnasium in its original Ancient Greek meaning: a place for physical training, socializing and engaging in intellectual pursuits. Nowadays, physical and intellectual activities are usually seen to belong to separate domains. We want to bring back the idea that they mix well together, and our activities will include both physical exercise and philosophical discussions.

The word ‘gymnasium’ comes from the Ancient Greek term γυμνός [gymnós] meaning “naked”, and our activities will be held in the nude. We believe that nudity will make physical activities more fun and at the same time will be important to bring across our message about body acceptance. We hope that all our participants will only feel more comfortable and confident in their own skin after our events.

FreeForm Festival will last 5 days this year (4-8 June), but we’ll probably just go for the weekend from Friday evening to Sunday night. Our program, as submitted, will include the following:

piggy back race (Sat, noon): an alternative to equestrian races in the original Olympics

street style dance workshop (Sat, 3pm): Urban dance workshop with a new twist – in the buff! Now you can’t cheat your moves 😉

yoga followed by some wine-drinking (Sat, 6pm): Ancient Greeks sometimes drank wine in acrobatic poses at their symposiums ;-)) Nude yoga – for a better flow 🙂 Free your body, free your mind! We’ll end the session with drinking wine in your favorite yoga poses.

… followed by  discussion on body image and body acceptance across cultures and history

capoeira workshop (Sun, noon): Capoeira is a unique martial art with elements of dance and is usually accompanied by music. Come to hear about its history, try some kicks and defense moves, and learn a capoeira song! To comply with our camp’s theme of body acceptance and make sure you do all the moves correctly, this workshop will be done in the nude 🙂

wrestling match (Sun, 3pm): Let’s wrestle like in the original Olympics – nude! Do you have any body image fears? It’s time to fight it too 😉

The most active participants and winners will be served Greek-style food and given massage!

Contact via e-mail or leave a comment here if you want to join us for FreeForm Festival or just share an idea for our activities.

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!

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

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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…

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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…

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We continued the hike,

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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:

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dotted

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and striped,

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green

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and pink-red!

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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.

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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.

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

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a hummingbird!

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

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

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

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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,

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and many of them blooming, in such arid conditions.

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

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This one seemed to be very well protected.

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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,

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

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perhaps a naked man? 😀

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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.

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It was quite easy to climb up,

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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?)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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,

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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,

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

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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 🙂

Active Naturists team gets gold at the Bouncing Buns trail race :-)

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Last weekend my friends and I teamed up for the naked trail race at Sunny Rest naturist resort in Pennsylvania, and we scored two trophies, including the absolute first! Yes, one of us, Casey, ran that tough 6km trail in just 27 min 47 sec. David brought another trophy for the 4th male under 39 years old (8th total).  I was 13th, but I was happy I could run the race at all, as I wasn’t sure how my ankle would feel still not fully recovered from the injury that I got after I was run over by car in January. This was my third year attending the race, and although the route have gotten shorter from 7 to 6km, it has also acquired some steep slopes this time. Probably for this reason, besides the injury, my result was 3min longer than last year despite a shorter track (32:16). It’s a pity another prize-winning ‘Team America’ from last year didn’t show up this time, but there was more than enough competition with 159 participants.

I was also recognized by one of the readers of my blog, who actually said he was inspired by it to participate in the race. This kind of comment is probably the best praise I could expect from my blog, this is what keeps me motivated to run it!

After the award ceremony, we ate lunch and I was glad to find out that the restaurant at Sunny Rest has improved tremendously and offers now a diverse menu of pretty good quality. Then we rested from the race in the pool and hot tub… but not for too long, as we also wanted to play volleyball. We had a few fun matches but needed even more rest afterwards, so we mostly hung out at the sauna and hot tubs in the evening. Next day, our activities started with yoga at the lawn near the tenting site followed by a short hike, partially on the trail that was used for the race.

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The outskirts of a field proved to be a good spot for nude photography.

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We also played some touch rugby in the afternoon, inspired by the recent match of Nude Blacks in New Zealand.

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We played with just 3 players in each team, but it was still a lot of fun.

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We all concluded that we should play it more often, so maybe we’ll build up a team some day. And maybe it will be as successful in rugby as in running? 🙂

naturist rugby 0002 Sunny Rest, PA, USA

WNBR NYC and Free Form Festival: free, arrested and then freer than ever!

Last Friday, the weather in New York city wasn’t the most cooperative for the World Naked Bike Ride, and yet a couple of dozens of hardiest cyclists showed up at the Grand Ferry Park. We welcomed the thunderstorm by dancing naked in the downpour, and as the rain was calming down, we took off to the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Despite the weather, there were still people on the streets, and we got cheered by pedestrians, other cyclists and car drivers alike! We got some friendly smiles and hand waives even from police. When passers by asked us why we were naked, I replied that skin was waterproof 😉

By the time we got to Washington Square Park, it stopped raining altogether.

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But some of us seemed to miss water already 🙂

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I wish New York accepted nudity, at least in parks, and as these rides show, general public doesn’t seem to be opposed to it, once confronted to a cheerful naked crowd.

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The World Naked Bike Ride aims to promote safe environments for cyclists and public in general, and who would argue that if you can feel safe in your city while being naked, it must be as safe as it gets?

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Then we headed out to the Hudson Greenway and took some more pictures with iconic views.

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As to the banner, I personally don’t think NYC should be car-free altogether, but it would definitely become a better city, if half of the drivers switched to bicycles 🙂

WNBR 2014 0003 New York, NY, USA

Unfortunately, our ride after that didn’t go as peaceful and proved that it wasn’t the weather we should have been worried about:

WNBR 2014 0008 New York, NY, USA

All of a sudden, we were overtaken  by an undercover police car (disguised as a yellow cab!) and then even more police came and blocked the street. We can only guess why, but they also arrested two of the participants!

WNBR 2014 0009 New York, NY, USA

It was pleasing to get support from bystanders. One of them shouted that he thought he happened to be in Iran. However, this didn’t stop police, and our two arrestees were detained till next evening! Your can read more at the blog of one of the organizers of New York’s WNBR, Ben, as well as an article from Gothamist.

I was very happy about how our ride went last year, and there is no reason why it should have ended so bitter this year. I’m especially puzzled why this happens in seemingly liberal New York. I bet many spectators of our ride on Friday had that “only in New York” moment, but what they probably didn’t realize was that in many cities of the world and US, the World Naked Bike Ride actually attracts many more riders, and what happens only in New York perhaps is that participants of such rides get arrested. Hopefully, it’ll be better next year. And there’re still some more rides this year too, including WNBR Boston next Saturday, June 28 (read this announcement about at Boston Magazine).

 

Last weekend, I went to Free Form Festival at The Schuylkill County Fairgrounds, PA,  and it was a nice and necessary breath of freedom after I witnessed the arrest at WNBR.

Free Form Festival 2014 0000 Pennsylvania, USA

This festival celebrates anything positive and artsy, anything that brings people together and raises the spirit, and social nudity is a part of it.

I started off with a naked lunch, which by coincidence seemed to be all Tuscan style – featuring Tuscan salami, Tuscan bean salad, and Tuscan salami – despite I bought those at different places without thinking about it :p

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Free Form Festival follows the format of Burning Man, just at a smaller scale and with grass instead of dust.

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I didn’t take many photos, as it was more about having fun and interacting with people.

Free Form Festival 2014 0001 Pennsylvania, USA

Even though nudity is not common there, it’s definitely welcome. As you can see at this photo from a contact workshop, where we pretended to be a school of fish, nobody had a problem with following a naked dude.

Free Form Festival 2014 0002 Pennsylvania, USA

At night, everybody gathered for the effigy burn, and a few people, including me, were dancing naked around. One of the fire spinners got naked too, and had a solo performance on the side. Also, a guy whose dance style was more like Tai Chi got naked too and taught me a couple of principal Tai Chi moves. Then he brought me to a creek with cold water behind the amphitheater. And that was my experience of duality – this year’s theme of Free Form Festival – fire and water, heat and cold, light and darkness…

Hopefully, events like the World Naked Bike Ride and Free Form Festival will make world a more open, accepting and freer place, so that you can feel safe even naked!

some upcoming events this month

WNBR NYC 2014

World Naked Bike Ride will gather thousands of cyclists in many cities of the Northern Hemisphere to promote cycling as a mode of urban transportation, as well as body acceptance. The dress code is “as bare as you dare”, but in my opinion being naked is the best way to get the message across: cyclists use the power of human body for commuting in the city – so, show that body! – and yet we are the ones who are most prone to the truly indecent exposure to the traffic and vehicle pollution. In most cities, the ride will be held on Saturday, 14 June, but in New York City, it’s on Friday the 13th. This will be a hell of a fun ride: an awesome way to finish off the work week, to say the least! You can see my reports from WNBR in NYC last year and 2012, as well as from Madrid in 2009; Philly Naked Bike Ride is in August, and with 3500 participants last year is the biggest one I’ve participated. Although I don’t know the reasons why WNBR is held on a different day here in New York than in most the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, I’m glad that it’s on Friday, because it lets me go for the weekend to yet another amazing event.

Free Form Festival brings together the vast East-Coast creative arts community from 12-16 June at at The Schuylkill County Fairgrounds, Pennsylvania. With its aim to “increase diversity in our local artistic landscape”, it will surely be interesting and fun, and by the way, it is an officially clothing-optional event too! Tickets are still on sale and may be purchased by clicking here. Who else is going?

I’m also looking forward to ‘Bouncing Buns7k Trail Race in Pennsylvania for American Cancer Society on the 21st of June. 7km is the longest distance that I’ve seen for a naked or clothing-optional race – it’s good to be challenged, moreover for a good cause. Well, in 2012, I passed the challenge pretty well, coming in third! I ran a bit faster last year, but with fiercer competition, I had only 7th result. This year, I cannot hope to run faster, as I’m still not 100% recovered after my ankle injury, but will I have less fun? Of course not! With 150 or so naturist folks of all shapes and ages, everybody can feel comfortable in their own skin. However, I’m going with a couple of fellows again, and it doesn’t hurt to have some healthy competition, just like with the friends in ‘Team America’ that I got to know last year. The event is organized by Pretzel City Sports and you can register for the race at their website: $25 before June 9, $32 after. Part of your registration fee will support American Cancer Society, and afterwards you get an opportunity to hang out at Sunny Rest naturist resort, where the trail race will take place. It’s a great opportunity to run just the way you like. The event is clothing-optional, and we’ll certainly opt for the style of the [authentic] Olympic runners 😉 Also, if you have any doubts about running naked, have a look at my brief overview that links running and our naturally naked (furless) body from an evolutionary perspective – I hope it’ll make sense to you. Besides participating in the race, we also plan to do some yoga at Sunny Rest, as well as play badminton and volleyball.

Last but not least, as the beach season has commenced, it’s worth mentioning that there is a Groupon sale for the Seastreak ferry from Manhattan to Sandy Hook beach: $25 instead of regular $45. Unfortunately, unlike in previous years, there is no $30 coupon on Seastreak’s website, and you can only get one groupon ticket…

body art in a new light

Camping trips are usually associated with such visually pleasing activities as watching fire and starry sky, but on our outing to Painted Canyon (aka Mecca Hills), California, we had a rather artsy experience – light painting. It’s a photographic technic that uses a light source for “painting” (illuminating certain parts with certain colors) or “drawing” while the camera captures the scene at a prolonged exposure time. Ramon thought of it as soon as he saw a small light with red laser pointer on my key chain. It was of course very different from watching fire, because we were actively creating the imagery, but the other hand it lacked immediacy, as we couldn’t appreciate the result fully until we saw the photos on a bigger screen. However, it didn’t stop us from being engaged with light painting for most of the evening

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Here, I became fire spirit.

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Don was about to start flying with his multiple arms that emitted electric pulses…

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and then he became a pure spirit after separating from the shady and sketchy alter egos.

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Meanwhile, I was fighting with the Devil himself.

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Despite his tricky rasteira (a movement in capoeira used to sweep or pull an opponent’s leg in response to a kick), I still won…

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and became a god of lighting!

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So, this is what happens when naturists turn into artists 😉 Next day, we also had an amazing hike in the Painted Canyon.

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The next opportunity for body art, even though it will be a very different experience, is next week already  – “New York Naked Painting Party – World Tour Kick Off!” – see you there?

hiking to the Tenant Creek Falls in Adirondacks

naturist 0000 Adirondack, NY, USA

Sorry for having been quiet for the entire month of November, but hopefully we’ll be more active at blogging this month. Luckily, there’s never a shortage of what to post, just the lack of time. After writing about the hike in Mohonk Preserve in New York, I thought I should add a couple more stories from Upstate this summer. My friend Miguel, an avid naturist himself, connected me with his buddy Teddy, who seemed to know the southern portion of the Adirondack Park well. So, after a couple of weeks planning, I was on the train from [former] New Amsterdam to Amsterdam, NY.

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Teddy brought me to his favorite hiking trail along the Tenant Creek.

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There are three waterfalls, but most people don’t go beyond the first one. We had the third waterfall all to ourselves!

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The hike took us about an hour, but as we started pretty late, we had just an hour of sunlight left to set up a camp and go skinny-dipping.

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It was easy to find a spot for out tent, but the place is certainly not mean for a lot of campers, so we were lucky to not have any neighbors. The sound of the waterfall was a perfect accompaniment for otherwise quiet night!

Next day, we went to explore the forest around, and it was so worth it. Butterflies and flowers greeted us, and we had some hand-picked blackberries for breakfast :p

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… and then I saw a coyote! He definitely saw me too, and even let me to take a picture of him,

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though by the time I focused well, he was scared by Teddy getting out of blackberry bushes and ran away.

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But even so, it was a big luck to have seen a coyote in New York state!

After walking in the sun, it was nice to come back to our camp and enjoy skinny-dipping.

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In the waterfall, there was even a deepening that looked like a perfect bathtub, but the water was too cold to really sit there for a while.

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We could swim in the pond below, however.

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On the way back, we saw these amazing colorful mushrooms.

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Near the first waterfall, Teddy knew a tree that grew right on top of the rock with its roots twisting down. It was almost the point to put our clothes on, because there might be more people coming, but we couldn’t resist snapping a couple of photos.

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What a great place to enjoy the beauty of the forest and meditate.

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This toad seemed to do the same, and lucky him, nobody would make a fuss for him being naked!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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,

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but we did come across of mountain quails,

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western fence lizards,

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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.

Redwoods of Big Basin

We spent the first day of our bike trip in California getting out of the urban agglomeration of the San Francisco Bay Area: by Cañada bike trail along the seismic Hayward Fault Zone, and then very hilly La Honda road, we reached a small settlement of La Honda; next day, we continued by Pescadero road towards the famous California State Route 1, aka Pacific Coast Highway (PCH, it’s worth noting that it has a bike lane on the side). There were some beautiful vistas on the way, forests and farmland, and we saw our first redwoods, but our first big stop was meant to be Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The spirit of Burning Man also followed us for a bit in the shape of surrealistic statues on some of the farms, like the one below.

naturist 0000 farm on the way to Ano Nuevo Beach, CA USA

By the way, some of my mates from Burning Man camp, which was Playa Bike Repair, knowing my tendency to spend time naked, that I might be able to bike naked in some parts of our route. I didn’t actually have much expectations for that, as most of our biking would be on the highway, but when we cycled down the small Cloverdale Rd and Gazos Creek Rd before hitting PCH, it seemed empty enough and I took my chance! There was just one car passing by and I was not sure they noticed I was naked. I had to put on my shorts when we got to PCH, but not for too long, as we decided to make a brief stop at the beach of Año Nuevo State Reserve. The beach was totally deserted, and all three of us got naked within a moment to enjoy the late afternoon sun after our first 2 days of biking.

naturist 0000 Ano Nuevo Beach, CA USA

Our rest stop was pretty active though: isn’t the best way to relax after a particular exercise, say biking, to do another exercise, say running? At least that’s what we did there for a bit, besides, some stretching too.

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Then we found different kinds of brown algae scattered by waves around the beach. This one above looked like a minimalistic copy of a tropical island covered with coconut palm trees. So-called bull kelp proved to be a great toy to play with (in this light, I definitely prefer its common name over the scientific Nereocystis,  which means mermaid’s bladder).

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Niko found two specimens of the same length and gave the art of poi both naturist and naturalist perspective!

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Tam was just swinging the longer one above his head,

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which Niko then used to hit against the sand as a whip (here comes another common name of this algae, bullwhip kelp).

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Not surprisingly, they both had to fight for in the tug of war game after that!

These algae can actually grow even much longer and they form underwater kelp forests along Californian coast. Too bad the water was too rough and cold to snorkel and see them, but we couldn’t stay much longer at the beach anyways, as we still had to find a campground at our next stop, Big Basin Redwoods State Park. The promise to see the forest with some of tallest and oldest trees in the world was good enough stop our frolicking in the sun. It was an easy ride after that, but we hardly managed to set up our camp before darkness. By the way, it felt rewarding to have come to the park by bicycles, as the camping fee was just $5, as opposed to $35 for those who came by cars.

Here, I need to give a preamble as to how I actually ended having the idea of hiking naked in the redwoods and choosing this forest in particular. When I went to the Spring Bash with Florida Young Naturists, I got a copy of “N, the Magazine of Naturist Living”, which featured an article about hiking in Big Basin Redwoods State Park by Bill Schroer. The article said it was possible to find some secluded trails and also mentioned Cahill policy that determined that simple nudity in State Parks was not a criminal offense. Big Basin Redwoods State Park is California’s oldest State Park (since 1902) and home to the largest continuous stand of ancient coast redwoods south of San Francisco. So, inspired by the article and by the magnificent redwoods themselves, we were eager to explore the forest “as nature intended”. We decided to hike Skyline-to-the-Sea trail with diversion to the Berry Creek trail, following advice of Bill Schroer.

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We woke up shortly after sunrise, and the sun was reaching out from behind the surrounding mountains and tall trees, it was getting warmer.

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Tam found his biking shirt to have been tried and tested by a local raccoon… Aren’t they supposed to wash things, actually? And there was a spring nearby. Well, not like we were going to wear clothes that day, anyways.

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In the beginning of the hike, we were welcomed by pretty tall northern giant horsetails, a ‘living fossil’ plant, but they were not nearly as tall as their long-extinct cousins and of course nothing to compare with the giant redwoods.

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Redwoods, being one of the most massive and tallest trees in the world, impressed us from the very beginning of the trail. I climbed one of the stumps to embody the strength of these giants… but still looked pretty small.

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Well, there’s one natural power that may be stronger than redwoods – lightning. There were quite a few that seemed to be struck by lightning and partially burnt from inside but still withstood it, but many weren’t that lucky and fell.

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But even when fallen, redwoods look majestic!

naturist 0006 Big Basin Redwoods, CA, USAWalking on a fallen redwood gives you a good perspective of their height (and a pretty way to cross a stream)…

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so as sitting under or on these fallen giants makes you appreciate their huge mass.

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And yet they look prettiest when they stand tall.

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Looking up in the redwood forest, it seems like green canopy and blue sky are at the same height.

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If you want to celebrate the tree-hugging day with redwoods, you would need more than one person to hug a big redwoods properly…

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even two would be hardly enough!

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Skyline-to-the-Sea trail and its branches go along springs with clear water, so you don’t need to carry much water with you (we used a filter, however)

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and can refresh on the way once in a while. Looks peaceful, doesn’t it?

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Until you notice this monster hiding on top of the stream! 😀

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Another ‘monster’, a giant Pacific banana slug, seemed much less menacing. Where did it get its beautiful golden color? Maybe from this spring?

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We had no clue why that spring had such a color, but given that California Gold Rush times were long gone, we were doubtful we found a source of wealth…

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The trail was well-maintained and even had stairs at steep inclines. By the way, we did encounter quite a few fellow hikers and we behaved like being naked was the most natural thing in the world (isn’t it?) – and it seemed to work well – we were often greeted with smiles and witty questions.

It was sad to depart from the redwoods, but we hoped we would see them again, it was a memorable first encounter with wooden giants!

Bouncing Buns [and more] at Sunny Rest resort

naturist 0000 Bouncing Buns 7k trail race, Sunny Rest, PA, USA

Last Saturday, I ran the 7k trail race ‘Bouncing Buns’ in Pennsylvania, and although I improved my result by 1min (29:48) compared to the previous year, when I came in third, this time I was only the seventh overall. The competition has become more intense thanks to the guys like Kirby, who was 3min ahead of me and came in second. However, a race like that is first of all a fun social event. Especially when you come with a group of college friends; Kirby was a part of ‘Team America’ brought together by Brianna, for whom it was also the second time at ‘Bouncing Buns’. She and 2 of her friends were in top 5 female runners!

naturist 0001 Bouncing Buns 7k trail race, Sunny Rest, PA, USA

And I guess everyone wished they had such a group of friends to hang out naked with in their college years, great example for the young generation!

As in last year, before and after the award ceremony, the participants continued to hang out at Sunny Rest resort, either chilling by the pool, or playing volleyball, ping-pong and badminton, despite the soreness after the race. Active naturists at their best! 😉 My 2 friends and I stayed overnight, after we found out that we indeed were entitled for a free night camping; this wasn’t clear in the beginning, so if you come next year make sure to claim the discount!

In the evening, Will and I went for a hike, partially by the trail where the race took place. It’s funny that neither of us (and I’m pretty sure almost all fellow runners) did not notice that right at the beginning of trail there was a bed ‘floating’ in the air!

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Well, it was of course hanging on the ropes attached to the trees, but it felt as if it was just floating through the forest above the green sea of ferns!

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Later on the trail, we met a couple on a quad, and the woman proudly announced that the bed had been used in a shooting for Penthouse a couple of days before. Well, I guess we won’t compete with them, but I’m quite impressed with how my photos came out…

Walking naked on the trail felt perfect and relaxing, although I still felt some soreness in my calves after the race. We noticed quite a lot of spiky vines by trail, but luckily the trail itself was cleared up of those.

naturist 0001 spiky vine @ Sunny Rest, PA, USA

At the first intersection, we followed the Hard Trail of course, which started with a tunnel of rhododendron bushes.

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Later, parts of the trail became a bed for a cool spring, which great on a hot day like that!

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Other parts of the trail were covered with soft fresh grass.

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We also encountered this very shy tortoise that was hiding in its shelf with all efforts.

naturist 0000 tortoise @ Sunny Rest, PA, USA

We hiked till we reached a beautiful meadow, where we saw the quad couple again, and then went back to Sunny Rest for a dinner. Last time, on similar occasion we returned after 9pm and could only get take-out fast-food from the restaurant, which frankly wasn’t that great. But this time we got to try their proper menu, and it was very decent, especially after a day full of sport activities!

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