Happy Nude Year! (after a somewhat pagan Xmas celebration)

naturist 0005 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

I rang in the New Year just as you’d expect me to do – in the nude! It was a fun Naked Comedy Show, and perhaps I’ll write about it in more detail later. But here’s a report from my Christmas day celebration, which came unexpected event to me – it was a naked hike in my beloved area of Pine Meadow Lake in Harriman State Park. With the current temperatures almost at their seasonal norm levels (cold!), it’s hard to imagine that we had those almost summer-warm days just a week ago. You might have heard that this December has seen record-high temperatures in NYC, so I decided to take advantage of the freak weather and get out for my first winter hike in Harriman park. I thought the previous post would be the last one about this place from 2015, but thanks to this winter adventure I can now say that it’s truly great any time of the year!

view 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Well, there were no blueberries or raspberries, but quite a lot of other small fruits decorates the bushes.

view 0002 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Otherwise the forest appeared pretty dead… which felt even weirder because it was as warm as in late spring. Just a few trees kept the leaves, while almost all were naked – and we followed the case 😉

view 0003 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

It was actually nice that the trees were leafless, because the sun could go through – in summer almost all of this hike is in shade, but this time it was good to feel sun rays throughout the hike.

naturist 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

The forest was very quiet and besides this friendly prehistoric crocodile that let me pose with him, we hardly saw or heard any animals.

view 0006 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Maybe he also put this rock up like this?

view 0005 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Mountain laurels were the only green bushes (besides coniferous), and they looked somewhat overoptimistic about the weather… Well, maybe they can keep their buds safe throughout the winter, but they looked like they were ready to open and grow.

We then noticed one tree had its tiny flowers open – most likely confused with the weather…

view 0008 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Others were decorated with fruits that seemed to be more suited for winter.

view 0007 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

But once we got to the lake, we decided to decorate a small “Christmas tree” – with what we had: food, and berries from the plants around.

naturist Xmas tree 0002 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Before you call our decoration blasphemous, you should know that it was approved by Jesus. And before you think I’m crazy, that’s a true name of my friend (too bad he didn’t want to appear on photos).

naturist Xmas tree 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

In any case, the tradition of decorating trees has pagan roots, and our phallic theme referred to fertility and revival…

naturist Xmas tree 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Too bad there weren’t many fellow hikers to appreciate that, and we soon ate our decorations. There was a small group of hikers though, who seemed to be genuinely interested in why we were naked. We explained a little about naturism, and how we wanted to enjoy the rare occasion of being able to be naked outdoors in December in NYC area. I have a feeling I may see them hike naked next summer! Otherwise, our company was limited to squirrels, chipmunks and a woodpecker.

woodpecker 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USAwoodpecker 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

We walked around Pine Meadow Lake a little more, and discovered two interesting places. One seemed to be like a secret meeting point of a Stone Age tribe… or dwarves?) With stone chairs around a fire pit, it should be a great spot to camp out with a group!

naturist 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Then we saw a strange structure on the neighboring hill. This was particularly surprising, as it was in a part of Harriman State Park that I knew very well, having hiked through these woods many times. But only now, with the forest being naked, did we notice it. When we got closer, we started guessing what it could be.

view 0009 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

It was not an abandoned mansion, as we first thought, but rather a water tower.  Just to make sure it wasn’t some kind of giant sacrifice place, like mayan cenotes, we wanted to look inside.

naturist 0004 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

There was a fallen tree leaning against the wall, so we could actually climb it and have a look. No, it was a water tower after all…

view 0010 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

or a Phallus temple?

We soon had to leave as it was getting dark and cold, but we still hiked naked all the way back. I think it might have been my most memorable Christmas day so far! And having spent the New Year’s Eve at the naked comedy show, I am sure this year is bound to have lots of fun in the buff, which I also wish to all of you!

PS Of course we also skinny-dipped, and the water was shocking-cold, so it was literally a dip. I plan to go to Sandy Hook on Sunday for Polar Bare Plunge for a more social winter skinny-dip – is anyone else up for it?

turkey and mushrooms in the woods of Harriman State Park

wild turkey 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

After seeing the title of this blogpost, you probably pictured a naturist picnic at Harriman State Park for Thanksgiving – but no, this wasn’t the case. I had a traditional (and clothed) dinner. However, the Thanksgiving meal reminded me of sighting a few wild turkeys in the woods of Harriman park this past summer, so this is kind of a bonus to the previous post about my favorite outdoors spot around NYC.

wild turkey 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

This was a fairly large group of adult females with the offspring – I shot just a few of them (I refer to photography). How many can you spot here? Turkeys camouflage pretty well, and if not the noise they had made running away from me, I wouldn’t have noticed them. I had seen wild turkeys on other occasions, but this was the first time I managed to take a photo of them. It could be sharper, but in my defense it was getting dark and they moved fast.

Another animal that I finally saw and photographed this summer was a snapping turtle.

snapping turtle 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

I can imagine a few male readers cringe thinking that this is the same lake where we swim naked, but snapping turtle is quite a secretive animal and wouldn’t try to hunt you. I was happy to snap a photo of this prehistoric-looking creature though.

And if we talk about ancient animals, there are some more peculiar creatures, like the pretty impressive moss animal Pectinatella magnifica!

sponge 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Here is a pretty big colony from the Turkey Pond (I have some photos of us swimming there in the previous post, but that time we didn’t have a waterproof camera).

sponge 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

These look somewhat like corals but are not related to them (well, not any more than us).

American five-lined skink 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

And here is an American five-lined skink. It’s a young individual, as it still has blue colors. Adult males apparently have a red head, similar to another species of skink that I showed in the previous post.

American five-lined skink 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Chipmunk is nothing special in North America, but I like this photo of one sneaking out from under the rock.

chipmunk 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

And again, with the reference to the previous post, I just mentioned there that I wished I had known local mushrooms – and this summer I finally started using the Audubon app to detect mushrooms, and we collected quite a lot of them on several hikes:

mushrooms 0004 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

e.g., chanterelles

mushrooms 0003 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

and various boletes in June around Pine Meadow lake. Actually I used some of the boletes right away for making a soup there.

In early October, Li and I ventured to a new lake for me – Island Pond, and one area on its shores was incredibly rich in boletes!

mushrooms 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

These are no magic mushrooms, but they make a great soup.

Well, enough of naturalist photos, here is a couple of naturist ones:

naturist 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

On the way to the Island Pond, there was a tree of a weird shape – almost perfect for taking a nap, if only it was softer.

naturist 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

And right by the lake, there was the most interesting ruin that I’ve seen in Harriman park so far – a pretty well preserved fireplace with a chimney.

naturist 0002 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

I see some more photo opportunities for the future 😉

trail running race at Sunny Rest, PA

naturist 0006 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in a trail race that has now become a yearly tradition for me – 4th time at the  ‘Bouncing Buns’ race at Sunny Rest, PA, with the 5th result overall out of about 130 participants. Most of my naked runner fellows couldn’t join me this time, including Casey, who came first last year but had an injury this June. My result  (30:51) has improved by a lot compared to the previous, but it wasn’t as good as in 2013 (even though I was 7th) and 2012 (when I was 3rd). But it doesn’t really make sense to compare the results here rigorously, as the track and length of the race varies from year to year. This time the trail was a bit easier in terms of lack of very steep uphills/downhills and extended parts where you had to run over wet rocks and roots, like last year, but there was more running through the tunnels of rhododendron bush and a pretty long uphill part towards the end of the race (where some of the frontrunners almost stopped). In other words, it was still lots of fun 😉

Here is a recap video for you that we made with Peter, so you get an idea of what it was like. It was the first time I used my GoPro camera in this way, so next time it’ll be better (I have some ideas for free-running/chasing vids, stay tuned!)

Maybe you also remember that “floating bed” in the woods at Sunny Rest 2 years ago. Well, now it’s gone (pretty much entirely rotten), and the only thing left are the ropes hanging on the trees. We thought it was fun to climb walk up the trees using those 🙂

naturist 0005 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

We weren’t the only ones around to climb trees

toad 0000 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

or hang from them either…

caterpillar 0000 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

(Some trees were actually full of these caterpillars – what’s happening this year? Not enough birds to eat them?)

As we went on a hike, we saw a very old rusty car in the middle of the woods,

naturist 0002 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

which by now is impossible to guess how it got there, being completely surrounded by trees. It reminded me of the abandoned settlement of several houses, also in the woods of Pennsylvania, that we discovered 3 years ago, and where a car with bullet holes also rusted… But here, it was just this one car with nothing else around…

If you go to the edge of the forest, you may get some picturesque views of the fields.

naturist 0001 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

But I don’t think you’re allowed to venture out [naked] onto those fields. The forest itself is quite picturesque too; here is a “field” of ferns.

naturist 0004 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

(Seemingly even bigger than the ‘sea of ferns’ at Lake Como resort in Florida.)

This time we witnessed the beginning of rhododendron blooming season,

rhododendron 0003 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

as this majestic bush was adorned with flowers of

rhododendron 0000 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

fifty (???)

rhododendron 0002 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

shades of pink.

rhododendron 0001 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

I hope to get back to ‘Bouncing Buns’ race next year with a bigger team again, but I’ll be back to Sunny Rest Resort even sooner – the weekend of 25-26 July is SunnyBowl, a pretty big volleyball tournament there that promises to be fun! See you there?

Harriman State Park? Anytime!

naturist 0028 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

I’ve written about Harriman State Park near New York City on multiple occasions, but I guess you won’t be surprised that I’m at it again, given that it is the most accessible location for me where I can enjoy and explore nature “as nature intended”. So as Sandy Hook has become my default beach and the latest post about it proved it’s good anytime of the day, Harriman is my default outdoors location, which I find to be great anytime of the day – and I’d like to say anytime of the year, but I’ll have to limit this statement to spring, summer and autumn, as I haven’t been there in winter.

autumn view 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Last October wasn’t so warm, but we did snatch a nice hike with some skinny dipping. I have some pictures of autumnal skinny dipping in another post, but here are just great views all the way up to Manhattan (Didn’t I say it was close? The photo is pretty zoomed in though.)

autumn view 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

It was nice to see all those bright colors, though frankly I prefer summer green (compare to this photo of Pine Meadow Lake view from a previous post). (Not to mention that I like swimming in those lakes when it’s warm, but we’ll get there.)

autumn view 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Still, the autumn colors were spectacular, especially in contrast to the dark sky on that day.

autumn view 0004 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

But it’s not like summer doesn’t offer more colors than “50 shades” of green. Here is the photo of the same islet on the Pine Meadow Lake with mountain laurels’ white-pink bloom a week ago.

naturist & mountain laurel bloom 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

And here is a close-up of one of those:

mountain laurel bloom 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

these bushes provide a fabulous backdrop for naked hiking 🙂 (And again, you can see more of such photos in an earlier blogpost.)

naturist & mountain laurel bloom 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Pink and purple tones seem to be particularly fashionable in Harriman:

flowers 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

I’ll be happy if my more botany-inclined readers will identify these plants for me,

bush bloom 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

but anyone can surely appreciate their beauty.

These wild roses also smelled sweet,

rose bloom 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and probably to preserve that smell they close for the night, when insects wouldn’t visit them anyways.

rose bloom 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

And even young oak leaves in the beginning of May were of purple tones too.

oak bloom 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

But some berberis shrubs bring the intensity of the color to the next level!

plants 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

And you can see an occasional red-leaved branch in the end of the summer, standing out among the greenery of the rest of the forest.

leaves or flowers? 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

The leaves of the plant below are usual green, but the shape is quite interesting, as if the tips were cut by someone.

plants 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

And some more flowers from this spring-beginning of summer:

flowers 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

viola,

bush and trees bloom 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

berberis (green this time),

bush and trees bloom 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and multiple white-blooming trees;

bush and trees bloom 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

blueberry bushes also bloomed intensely this year, so we can expect a nice blueberry season later in summer.

blueberry bloom 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Plants aren’t the only ones to please your eyes with bright colors in Harriman State Park:

eastern newt (eft) 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

orange juvenile newts (efts) are a common sight in the beginning of summer,

eastern newt (eft) 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and we also saw an orange frog!

frog 0003 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

This frog from last summer was not conspicuous at all though,

frog 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

but I wanted to take a picture of it, as it still had not finished its metamorphosis and featured a long tail.

frog 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

But then there was also a lizard with an orange head, a broad-headed skink:

I waited quite a bit for it to come out from the whole between the rocks,

broad-headed skink 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and it was worth it.

broad-headed skink 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

And again, for contrast, here is a less conspicuous reptile, but at the same time a lot larger and dangerous.

hidden rattlesnake 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Can you see it? If you don’t, check out another blogpost of mine, where I have much better pictures of it.

Usually insects are a part of my nature report, but this time they’ll be represented only by this vaguely seen dragonfly which photobombed a photo of a turkey vulture taken at the Turkey Pond.

turkey vulture + fly 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Here is a better picture of a gliding turkey vulture. I’ve also seen wild turkeys there but have never been fast enough to snap a photo of them.

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/423/18688531185_f9068c5495_z_d.jpg

A lot more exciting though was a sighting of a bald eagle! It was soaring higher than turkey vultures, but its profile was unmistakable. It is even more exciting that I’ve seen this iconic American animal so close to New York City (so as a black bear 3 years ago).

bald eagle 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Even if you don’t see a bald eagle in the sky, the sky itself may present quite a spectacle.

sunset view 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

We witnessed a very colorful sunset last September at Pine Meadow Lake. Just scroll down,

sunset view 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and see

sunset view 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

how

sunset view 0003 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

colors change

sunset view 0004 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and eventually

sunset view 0005 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

disappear!

sunset view 0006 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

The sunrise (on another occasion, in July) wasn’t as nearly as colorful,

view 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

but the fog made it mystical.

view 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Well, and I’m not even nearly done with nature photos for this blogpost! Besides purely esthetically pleasing sightings, Harriman State Park provides a few possibilities for encounters that may be pleasing for the stomach too 😉

I’ve already mentioned blueberries (and have some yummy photos of those in another post),

raspberry 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

but you can also find raspberries and blackberries of different varieties – look for those in the openings in the woods.

This kind of blackberry is my favorite. They usually ripen in August, after blueberries.

blackberry 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Didn’t I say pink and purple were trendy in Harriman?

raspberry 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Here is a pink raspberry with purple flowers!

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8896/18500556378_c8e7a815af_z_d.jpg

And even young grape leaves (early May) have a purple rim!

grape vine 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

You can see flower buds on this photo too, so hopefully they will develop into grapes by September, like last year. They aren’t as sweet as cultivated grapes, but you can’t be too picky while hiking in the woods – it’s great to have a snack courtesy of wild nature!

grape vine 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

These bright mushrooms below should probably have stayed in the esthetically pleasing category,

mushroom 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

as I am not sure if they are edible, but I want to think they are… I’d like to join the local mycological society to learn about mushrooms in the area on their foraging outings.

mushrooms Harriman State Park

The idea of foraging while backpacking is very appealing on many levels, but one has to be careful, especially with mushrooms.

mushroom 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

But I guess you can’t go wrong with the fish here! Although my father and grandfather are avid amateur fishermen, I haven’t learned much about it.

naturist 0027 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Luckily, my new naturist fisher friends were willing to share their catch! I’m yet to buy fishing gear, but meanwhile I’ll enjoy fish as a naturalist.

Most of the fish that you see in the video are sunfish species, and what I like about them is that they are quite tame and even curios about people – they often come close and stare at you, and sometimes nibble (not painfully, don’t worry). Snorkeling at the Pine Meadow Lake may not be as colorful and diverse as at the coral reefs of the Red Sea or in Hawaii, but those friendly sunfish spawning among water lilies make it really interesting.

naturist 0011 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

I certainly like swimming in the lakes of Harriman park a lot more than in swimming pools, which are easily accessible in New York (including my workplace). Besides having more space, beautiful surrounding and fish to observe, possibility to swim naked is of course another strong factor 😉

naturist 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

If dogs can do it, why can’t we?

naturist 00000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

These lakes are good size if you want to exercise swimming by crossing them forth and back,

naturist 0010 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and some of them, e.g. Turkey Pond, have small islands

view 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

providing nice resting spots…

naturist 0013 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

or nude posing opportunities 🙂

naturist 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

If you will to carry a kayak with you,

naturist 0035 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

paddling around is another fun way to explore and experience these lakes,

naturist 0037 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and a great exercise for the upper body too.

naturist 0036 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

And if you want some extreme (well, admittedly, just a hint thereof), there are cliffs at Pine Meadow Lake from which you can dive in the lake.

naturist-0043-Harriman-State-Park,-New-York,-USA

Nudity will make it a little more extreme and fun 😉

naturist 0055 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

But besides exercising and observing nature, such naked outings by the lake provide nice opportunities for social bonding, and we kicked off this season with a good group of 8 butt-naked people.

naturist 0065 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

We had nice summer weather already in the beginning of May, and the water was warm enough for swimming.

naturist 0063 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

We were lucky to have one of the nicest spots at Pine Meadow Lake all to ourselves, with perfect flat rocks to sit on just above the water and in the water.

naturist 0056 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Splashing

naturist 0058 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and talking proved to be a great mix 🙂

naturist 0059 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

And if you can’t find such nice flat rocks for your rest spot, perhaps a tree will do 😉

naturist 0015 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

This one turned out to be good as a lounge chair and an observation deck alike!

naturist 0023 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

And if all those lakes are great destination points, journey to those (hiking) is just as good in its own merit. There are lots of well-maintained and marked trails in Harriman State Park, but bushwalking is fun too.

naturist 0008 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Most of the time though we take known trails and consult with the map.

naturist 0068 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

The terrain and surroundings are quite diverse,

naturist &0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

from soft soil of the woods to rocks and cliffs.

naturist 0066 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

It’s hard to predict how many people you’ll encounter on the trails,

naturist 0067 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

but once we were lucky to have even this well-known rock formation all to ourselves.

naturist 0070 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

And just as a reminder of the “other world” (and proximity to it), once in a while you may get to a viewpoint where you can see Manhattan skyline.

view 0003 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Such points are great for taking pictures (such as the first one in this post) and rest/stretching alike.

naturist 0029 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

The greenery of the forest provided a nice background, and while it appeared massive,

naturist 0025 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

we were quickly reminded about fragility of the ecosystem,

burnt view 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

as we saw traces of the recent wildfire.

burnt view 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Luckily, it wasn’t that big (though it’s not the only instance, as you’ll see below), and we could continue our hike safely.

naturist 0030 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

But even the most active naturists need some rest after all this hiking and swimming 🙂

naturist 0031 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Sometimes a cup of tea is the only thing needed,

naturist 0033 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and sometimes nothing at all – you just feel blessed with what mother nature provided, especially when it is a thick soft layer of moss just at the time when you want to lie down…

naturist 0071 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Though not for too long… and if we’re not moving forward in some way, we find another activity;

naturist 0072 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

trees, dead or alive, serve well as apparatuses for exercises 🙂

naturist 0032 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

 

When the evenings get cooler in the end of summer, it’s nice to get the last sun rays before sunset.

naturist 0034 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Note the “obelisk”, an erect dry tree trunk in the background… This picture was taken mid-September last year, and this is what it looked like this May:

burnt view 0003 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Unfortunately, that little peninsula that we liked so much has burned out quite badly, though large trees have survived.

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/297/18067815753_227f559a38_z_d.jpg

We discovered traces of exploded camper stove, burnt batteries and parts of a tent, so we speculated that could be how the fire started, though we of course couldn’t tell if all this wasn’t actually the result of wildfire, simply having caught the flame. However, most likely it was a man-made disaster-ish. Regardless, hopefully nobody suffered seriously.

burnt view 0005 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Not all human activity is devastating of course, and here is an example of some rock painting art.

rock art 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Doubtfully it’s older than a century though; I couldn’t find any information online about it, so maybe for a moment we can think we uncovered art from the neolithic era… or maybe someone craftily imitated it last year 🙂

rock art 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Well, the ruins of what apparently used to be a pump house by the Pine Meadow Lake are certainly not that ancient, but I couldn’t find much information on that either.

naturist 0075 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Regardless, the ruin inspired us for more exercising and posing 🙂

naturist 0074 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

I think there hardly can be any better combination for photography than decaying constructions being slowly overtaken by nature and nudes!

naturist 0073 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

I am happy to have captured all this and share it with you, and surely there’ll be more material from this summer!

Camping On Georgian Bay, Canada

There are about two hundred and fifty thousand lakes in Ontario, and about one hundred thousand kilometres of rivers. If I could, I’d explore it all. In the southernmost part of the province, where most of the people live, the landscape has long been clear-cut, land-filled, and turned into pasture – and is now being swallowed up by suburbs and roads. But go north of the southernmost ten percent of Ontario, into the vast Canadian Shield, and small towns and cities sit like islands connected by bridges of asphalt amid an ocean of water, rock, and endless forest.

001 Distance Picture 0000 Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada

At the very northwest edge of that southernmost, densely-populated part of Ontario begins Georgian Bay – the name of both the enormous bay itself, nearly the size of some of the Great Lakes, and the land immediately surrounding it. This part of Massasuga Provincial Park is a favourite area of mine to go camping and canoeing. While it can get very busy during the spring, summer, and fall on cottage- and fishing lakes, especially toward the south end of the bay, the farther you continue north, like the rest of Ontario, the wilder it becomes – and wild is the way I like it. So this year I went with my better half during the middle of the week, and we planned on a few hours of paddling and a couple of portages to find an entire lake to ourselves. We were not disappointed.

Isolation was especially important because, inspired by this site, I hoped to spend as much of the trip as I could in the buff. (Bear in mind that nudity and “indecency” are illegal in Canada, but the laws, confusing and open to interpretation as they are, appear classically Canadian: Please don’t offend anyone, thank you. Steer well clear of other people and you should steer clear of the law – though don’t mistake my advice for a lawyer’s.) Little did I know that my account of it would end up here, so pardon me if the pictures are more illustrations of what I saw than a documentation of the trip itself.

After a long drive through rain we came to our launch point and the clouds blew away as if the sun knew we were coming. We had arrived in the confluence of the northernmost reaches of the great eastern forest of North America -with its sprawling hardwoods and firey fall colours – and the southernmost edge of the continent’s boreal forest, characterized locally by towering windswept white pines that spring as if by magic from cracks in the earth, with blankets of ripening blueberries

002 Blueberry 0000 Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada

wild strawberries (now past their peak)

003 Wild Strawberry Picture

and juniper berries around their roots.

004 Juniper Berries 0000 Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada

From this edible welcome mat we set off under the warm sun into lakes that were, considering the brutal arctic vortex winter that lasted well into spring in the area, surprisingly warm. Conscious that other paddlers use the launch – and being a little on the bashful side by nature – I left my swimsuit on as long as I was in the canoe.

The canoeing was, as ever, superlative, though we struggled at first against a quixotic headwind, from the port one moment, from the starboard the next. The landscape was pure Canadian Shield, a geological formation that extends far into the Arctic, created during a span of about two billion years beginning over four and a quarter billion years ago, about the same time life and liquid water were forming on Earth.

From under the thousands of lakes around Georgian Bay, the Canadian Shield wells up as sometimes-solitary, sometimes densely-packed islands in the water, like the backs of great stone whales – streaked with the pinks, blacks, and glittering whites of the planet’s younger days. We wound among those islands, marshes full of songbirds and basking turtles, and, in a bit of good luck, got to take some shortcuts through wetlands where the water was exceptionally high.

008 Canadian Shield 0000 Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada

A quick note: Experienced canoers and back woods campers will enjoy adventuring out into Crown Land around Georgian Bay – leaving the busy cottage lakes and fishing lanes for bear country feels like heaven to me – but the less experienced have a bevy of Provincial Parks (clothes required) and naturist resorts to choose from in Ontario that offer a lighter introduction to the wild.

For me it was, as ever, a spiritual experience to explore the quiet coves and calm waters of the lakes and rivers we paddled through, each bent by eons of geological forces and scoured by receding glaciers into a kaleidoscope of shapes, like sworls and splatters on the map. There’s something sacred about them, a reminder of my place on this planet, a passing, precious second in a story longer than I can truly understand.

When we put in for our first night, it was in an out-of-the-way spot with a broad rock beach and a thick row of oaks, white pines, and juniper bushes that blocked the breeze from reaching our tent and provided privacy from the sum total of two canoes that passed by all day.

011 tent 0000 Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada

After paddling in the sun for the whole afternoon, and the wind having died back for the last hour, I was ready to swim as soon as we stepped out of our canoe onto the warm rock shore.

Still a bit skittish, and despite not having seen a human at least an hour, I got into the water with my swimsuit on after we set up camp. As soon as I got into the water I could feel my body asking me “what are you doing with these stupid shorts on?” So I took them off.

Bliss.

Well, bliss until a snapping turtle surfaced from the deep, I panicked, and in the confusion lost my rather expensive new swimsuit. I spent about an hour looking for it – which, as it consisted of swimming and diving for an hour in the summer sun in an isolated lake, was not any hardship at all – before my co-adventurer offered kindly “Maybe this is the universe’s way of telling you you’re not meant to use a swim suit for this trip.”

I choose to believe he was right, and dried off on the wavy slab of rock that sloped into the water where we set up camp. Sitting on that rock that was warm from the sun, that had sweetgrass growing from the cracks, that was older than the the oceans themselves, while feeling and watching the same breeze blow across the lake, the forest, and me, was a sensory experience I that I just can’t do justice to with words. If I wasn’t a naturist before, after that moment I don’t know how I couldn’t be.

007 Sky 0000 Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada

In the evening that first night, when the mosquitoes came out, I laid in a bowl in the rock, where I could see only treetops and sky, and where the gentle wind and emerald-coloured dragonflies kept the bugs at bay. The next day I woke up first and followed a brook back through the melange of maple, beech, and red and white oaks, and stands of enormous white pine and hemlock. The mix of forests makes the area great for tree lovers like me, who could spend hours wandering the woods and identifying species. In the quiet of the morning I felt more comfortable naked and confident that I was alone than I had the day before, and I worried only about the last of the mosquitoes that come out around dawn.

We spent the morning swimming and exploring the hills behind our campsite, and when I put a pair of shorts on again before we got in our canoe to move on through the wilderness, I must admit clothing felt entirely unnatural.

005 Hemlock Forest 0000 Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada

We settled down in a bay that day high on the Shield, set back in a forest of hemlock forest.

006 White Pines 0000 Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada

We shared the beach with turtles, crickets, various birds, and even a rare eastern ribbon snake.

010 Ribbon Snake 0000 Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada

009 Butterfly 0000 Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada

After hours of swimming and exploring the woods we had dinner and, tired from the day, strung our hammocks just back from the tree line. After dinner we read and talked until the mosquitoes came out to play.

That night the weather turned fickle again, and the unusually cool air returned. We canoed back to our car early in the morning, sad to go but with many stories and pictures to bring home.

Any many, many memories.

Perhaps my favourite is of lying on those warm rocks as the last light of of our first day seeped from the western sky and the stars revealed themselves in great swaths; of listening to ethereal loon song as the silver light of the moon held me, and knowing that I lay skin to skin with one of the most ancient places on Earth.

 

[Guest entry by Jacob]

Krumme Lanke, Berlin

naturist 0004 Krumme Lanke, Berlin, Germany

Krumme Lanke is probably the easiest lake to reach by public transport in Berlin – just a few minutes away from U3 station with the same name. It is is excellent for swimming, and its length proved to be perfect for long-distance swimming sessions for my friends an me. There’s a lawn in the southern corner of the lake that’s commonly used as an FKK location, clothing-optional that is. I have a great personal memory from this spot, as that’s where I had an informal lunch with my future colleagues when I came to Berlin for an interview for my PhD training; we kept our clothes on, but the choice of location made me feel like Berlin would be the perfect city for me to live 😉

fish 0000 Krumme Lanke, Berlin, Germany

Krumme Lanke has remained one of my favorite  places for swimming since then thanks to easy access and clean water.

naturist 0000 Krumme Lanke, Berlin, Germany

That’s where I would go to brave cold waters on warm-ish days even in early spring.

naturist 0003 Krumme Lanke, Berlin, Germany

It took me a couple of years to discover this tree tilted above the water, but better later than never. It doesn’t look that high, but it was scary enough for me to sit up there.

naturist 0001 Krumme Lanke, Berlin, Germany

Jumping with feet down was easy though.

naturist 0000 Schlachtensee, Berlin, Germany

Schlachtensee is another lake with very clean water; it’s right next to Krumme Lanke to the south but has no beach. It does not matter at night, however 🙂

naturist 0002 Schlachtensee, Berlin, Germany

On a very warm midsummer night with full moon, we were lucky to find this amazing oak tree with a branch stretching above the water. I even managed to lie down on it and enjoy the view!

naturist 0001 Schlachtensee, Berlin, Germany

Müggelsee

naturist 0005 Mueggelsee, Berlin, Germany

Müggelsee is a big lake in the eastern part of Berlin, and in many ways it provides an alternative to Wannsee at the western boundary of the city: there is an organized and well-maintained sandy beach, large surface but shallow waters, possibilities for kayaking etc. The main beach is also paid, but unlike at Wannsee, the FKK (naturist) part of the beach is not only clothes-free but free of charge as well. Why anyone would want to go the neighboring beach where you have to pay the entrance fee and wear swimsuits is a mystery.

Facilities include a café, toilettes, tables for ping-pong, and a field for volleyball.

naturist 0004 Mueggelsee, Berlin, Germany

We used the volleyball field not only for volleyball but for 2×2 badminton match as well. Later in the day, when the beach emptied, we also  tried to fly a kite.

naturist 0003 Mueggelsee, Berlin, Germany

Although little wind was favorable for our badminton game, it wasn’t enough to lift our kite for long. On not-so-active options, you can choose to sunbathe sitting on a bench,

naturist 0001 Mueggelsee, Berlin, Germany

lying on grass

naturist 0002 Mueggelsee, Berlin, Germany

or sand.

naturist 0000 Mueggelsee, Berlin, Germany

It’s also nice to go for a walk in the woods nearby.

naturist statue 0000 Mueggelsee, Berlin, Germany

In case you wonder it it’s ok to walk around in the buff, this wooden statue holds the [positive] answer. Next time, we should try some wind-surfing too!

Teufelssee lake and Grunewald forest in Berlin

naturist 0000 Teufelsee in Grunewald, Berlin, Germany

Grunewald area of Berlin offers another lake option, Teufelssee, and it is a very different experience from Wannsee. Teufelssee is a small lake in the middle of the woods, and there is a big grassy meadow adjacent to it. It’s easy to reach by bike or a long walk from S7 station Grunewald. No wonder, the meadow and lake often get packed with people when the weather is nice. And as many places in Berlin, the default status of outdoor recreation is clothing-optional (FKK).

naturist 0001 Teufelsee in Grunewald, Berlin, Germany

There is a floating platform in the middle of the lake, a great point for dives into the water or calm sunbathing.

naturist & wild boar 0000 Teufelsee in Grunewald, Berlin, Germany

Closer to the evening, when the crowds are gone, there is a different kind of visitor, besides few remaining naturists:

naturist & wild boar 0001 Teufelsee in Grunewald, Berlin, Germany

wild boar.  They come very close to people but behave peacefully; they are more interested in the trash cans.

wild boar 0000 Teufelsee in Grunewald, Berlin, Germany

Unfortunately, they sometimes create a mess at this otherwise clean and orderly naturist location. But a naturalist in me was happy to see wild boars so close and undisturbed by people’s presence.

Proximity to the city made Teufelssee one of my most visited outdoor places during summer. And when spring weather turned unexpectedly hot, even in early April like in the video above, I would head out there to enjoy the sun and warm air all over my skin 🙂 Grunewald forest has numerous dirt roads and trails, and it feels amazing to cycle there naked with the first warm sun rays of spring. And similarly, I would go there for some last-in-season sunbathing during those golden days of Indian summer… combined with working on photos for my blog 😉

naturist 0003 Teufelsee in Grunewald, Berlin, Germany

Wannsee in Berlin: kayaking, swimming, biking, frisbee – you name it!

naturist 0002 Wannsee, Berlin, Germany

Wannsee, or more specifically Großer Wannsee, is a relatively large lake in the westernmost part of Berlin. It hosts Europe’s longest inland beach – Strandbad Wannsee, but we usually hang out at more secluded spots north of it. Strandbad Wannsee is just one of  2 or 3 beaches in Berlin with an entrance fee, which I assume supports facilities and cleaning operation; naturist part (or FKK, as it is usually referred to in Germany) is in the northern side of the beach (i.e., to the right, if you face the lake). There are a few small beaches to the north of Strandbad Wannsee, which are free of charge and free of clothes as well 🙂

naturist 0003 Wannsee, Berlin, Germany

River Snack boat delivers ice-cream, beer and snacks, including Berlin’s famous currywurst.

naturist 0000 Wannsee, Berlin, Germany

As you’ve figured from the photos, our favorite way to get there was kayak.

naturist 0001 Wannsee, Berlin, Germany

Kayaking in calm waters of Wannsee is easy and pleasant; it provides great views of the forested shores of the lake and good exercise for your upper body! Kayaks and canoes can be rented from Der Bootsladen upstream at a canal of the Havel river.

naturist 0008 Wannsee, Berlin, Germany

You can also get there by public transport too, metro (S-Bahn) plus bus, but we often opted for cycling either all the way or from S-Bahn stations Nikolassee (nearby) or Grunewald (long ride). There are numerous dirt roads and trails that cross Grunewald forest on the way from S-Bahn station Grunewald to the sandy beaches of Wannsee. It’s more fun and refreshing to ride bicycle naked, and we’ve done it on multiple occasions – other people seemed to be cool about that.

naturist 0005 Wannsee, Berlin, Germany

At our favorite spot by the Wannsee lake, there was a fallen tree that provided comfortable sitting.

naturist 0004 Wannsee, Berlin, Germany

But we wouldn’t be active naturists, if we just sat there –

naturist 0006 Wannsee, Berlin, Germany

how about some upside-down calisthenics exercises?

swan 0001 Wannsee, Berlin, Germany

Well, swimming is obviously another activity one would engage in at the lake. Swimming with swans is quite fun; swans often appear as curious about humans, as we are about them, and I tried to make friends among swans at Wannsee.

naturist & ducks 0017 Wannsee, Berlin, Germany

Ducks seem to be more straightforward and approach to check if someone is willing to share their food with them.

seagull 0000 Wannsee, Berlin, Germany

Seagulls are also common at Wannsee, but they prefer to stay away from people.

naturist 0007 Wannsee, Berlin, Germany

In any case, before you go swimming, make sure the water isn’t green, as once there was an intense algae bloom. Algae blooms are not necessarily toxic and may happen during sudden changes in weather conditions and when phytoplankton is not consumed fast enough by zooplankton and mollusks.

snail 0000 Wannsee, Berlin, Germany

This terrestrial snail isn’t the kind of mollusk that would help with an algae bloom though. But I thought it’d provide a nice contrast to ‘active naturists’, as it is both sluggish and super-clothed, carrying its entire house all around 🙂

naturist 0016 Wannsee, Berlin, Germany

We, on contrary, like to jump around totally naked, as you know, and shallow waters of Wannsee proved to be perfect for playing frisbee in water. It stays about knee- or waist-deep for 20m or so by the shore, and the bottom is sandy. As it is more difficult to run around in water, it provided an incentive to aim more precisely.

naturist 0014 Wannsee, Berlin, Germany

Jumping out of water while tossing a frisbee disk proved to be a lot of fun,

naturist-frisbee-0011-Wannsee,-Berlin,-Germany

 

and again it was a good exercise for legs.

naturist 0009 Wannsee, Berlin, Germany

And if that’s not enough for the day, we can always cycle naked through Grunewald on the way back home.

Sima bog near Moscow

 Русский

naturist 0000 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

There is a very pretty bog not too far from Moscow, and it was one of the most interesting places where I’ve enjoyed outdoors the natural way, naked. It is a peat bog called Sima at the Zvenigorod Biological Station of Moscow State University, where I spent quite a lot of time during summer practices in my student year. It was so nice to come back there a few years later. Student excursions aside, it’s an ideal place to find oneself at peace with nature.

view 0000 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

Sima is a relatively small peat moss bog surrounded by fir-tree forest.
view 0001 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

The bog is outlined by a stretch of smaller-than-usual birches and pines, as well as blueberries and rhododendron. There were no berries of course, when I visited in May, but rhododendron bush was in full bloom.
Rhododendron 0000 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

Though transition between the forest and the bog appears relatively smooth, there’s no transition between the bog and the lake in the centre of it: the mire just ends abruptly and the lake is over 1-1.5m deep already at the very edge of it. This used to be a peat pit. Thus the lake looks like a huge pool with black water.
view 0002 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

Of course, we couldn’t help swimming there on a hot day like that.
naturist 0004 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

Such a dark water surface reflects exceptionally well.
naturist 0008 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

We didn’t see any fish in the lake, but there must be some, as a couple of seagulls hang out by the lake too.
seagull 0000 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

In any case, it is the bog that makes Sima so special. If from the photos you might think it wasn’t much different from a meadow, this animated picture will assure you that it was a true quaking bog.
naturist-quake-0000-Sima,-Moscow-oblast,-Russia

You can feel like a giant quaking the earth! It’s a funny feeling to walk on that jelly-like surface, you just need to make sure not to sink into it. The trail is enhanced with wooden planks, as you can see on the first photo and the one below.
naturist 0006 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

But if you get off the trail, stay closer to the edge of the lake, where the mire appears to be more solid.
naturist 0001 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

Although this place feels secluded, some people just can’t get out of touch with the rest of the world thanks to their mobile phones… However, we did spend most of the time with various activities and observing the nature around.
naturist 0005 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

There were many things to marvel at even at our feet. Besides sedges, cranberry plants and peat moss, we found quite a few carnivorous plants.
sundew 0000 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

This plant is called sundew due to obvious reasons; this ‘dew’ is used to catch small unwary insects.
sundew 0001 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

They are not alone in that quest, having to compete with frogs
frog 0000 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

and other insects, such as dragonflies.
dragonfly 0000 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

Not all dragonflies, however, were busy preying: some demonstrated amazing stunts of sex in the air! (I would explain the fact that camera focused on their reflection in water as a mode of censorship blur, but the reflection was just as sharp and clear!)
dragonfly 0001 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

In any case, we weren’t disturbed by any mosquitos an flies on that day.
Considering the soft and flat surface of the quaking bog, I decided that it was finally the time to practice some gymnastics after half-a-year break due to my ankle injury.

naturist-flip-0000-Sima,-Moscow-oblast,-Russia

Even though I wasn’t in the best shape, I jumped to my heart’s content.
naturist 0002 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

I almost got stuck in the mire after one jump 😀
naturist 0003 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

Actually, there were no issues with that. It was a unique experience of gymnastics in its authentic meaning – exercising naked – in a completely natural setting with a natural bouncy floor.
naturist 0007 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

Thanks to this soft spring floor, Sasha even mastered a headstand for the fist time. Then we switched to acro-yoga, doing both core-strengthening
naturist acro-yoga 0001 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

and relaxing exercises.
naturist acro-yoga 0000 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

Altogether, we had a glorious day in our altogethers.
view 0003 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

I hope Sima will keep its uniqueness, although bogs are prompt to changing due to natural reasons and man impact. Unfortunately, we saw some deep potholes at bog and the trail leading to it that resulted from an overuse by quad-bikers, and later we saw two such all-terrain vehicles on the trail. ATVs are certainly not an eco-friendly way to explore outdoors, and I hope the trail entry will be gated properly. The forest, as in many areas around Moscow, has been also infested by a fir-killing bug.
view 0005 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

I’ll end the story on a pleasant note, however. We also saw quite a few flowers on the trail,
plant 0000 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

such as this exotic-looking spurge,
plant 0001 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

an aromatic and bright-flowered bean plant,
Convallaria 0000 Sima, Moscow oblast, Russia

and an even more aromatic lily of the valley. Thus, Sima is an excellent place for naturists and naturalists alike!