walking through the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

naturist 0010 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

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

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

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

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

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sometimes forming “rivers” of cones.

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

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and eventually would grow for thousands years on!

tree 0010 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

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

view 0010 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

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

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there are some other plants too.

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

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

plant 0001 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

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

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

tree 0008 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

If you are not so much into botany,

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the views are pretty amazing too!

view 0004 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

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

naturist 0011 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

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

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

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But you can always chill in the shade too…

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

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And some of them offer even cozier seats for lounging

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

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

Ramanat – naturist guesthouse in SE Brazil

português

Ramanat is a naturist guesthouse in the state of Minas Gerais, Brasil.

naturist 0000 Ramanat, Minas Girais, Brasil

The guest house is no longer affiliated with the naturist federation,

naturist 0002 Ramanat, Minas Girais, Brasil

but it is still a great place for a rustic getaway with pools and numerous trails to explore the forest.

naturist 0001 Ramanat, Minas Girais, Brasil

However, the website of Ramanat is not functioning at the moment, and we haven’t been able to reach them by phone either, unfortunately. Hopefully it’s just a renovation!

André

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 😉

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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.

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

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Maybe he also put this rock up like this?

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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…

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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).

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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).

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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.

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

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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:

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e.g., chanterelles

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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!

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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 🙂

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We weren’t the only ones around to climb trees

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or hang from them either…

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(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.

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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.

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

This time we witnessed the beginning of rhododendron blooming season,

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as this majestic bush was adorned with flowers of

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fifty (???)

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shades of pink.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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but anyone can surely appreciate their beauty.

These wild roses also smelled sweet,

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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.

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

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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.

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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,

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berberis (green this time),

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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:

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

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and we also saw an orange frog!

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

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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,

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and it was worth it.

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

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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.

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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).

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

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

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and see

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how

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colors change

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and eventually

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disappear!

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

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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),

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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?

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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 😉

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If dogs can do it, why can’t we?

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

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

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providing nice resting spots…

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or nude posing opportunities 🙂

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If you will to carry a kayak with you,

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

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and a great exercise for the upper body too.

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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.

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Nudity will make it a little more extreme and fun 😉

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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.

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

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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.

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Splashing

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and talking proved to be a great mix 🙂

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

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

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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.

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

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The terrain and surroundings are quite diverse,

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from soft soil of the woods to rocks and cliffs.

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

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

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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.

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

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we were quickly reminded about fragility of the ecosystem,

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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.

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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!

Orient Land Trust, Colorado

naturist 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Orient Land Trust is an amazing piece of land between San Luis Valley and Cottonwood Peak of Rocky Mountains in Colorado; it encompasses wildlife corridor with numerous hiking trails to explore, pristine spring waters – including geothermal springs for you to relax, an abandoned mine that now hosts the state’s largest bat colony, and rustic cabins and camping area for you to stay. And what makes this place truly natural, relaxing and liberating is that it is very much nude-friendly! When we went there in July, the weather was just perfect for that – it only cools down at night, but then you’d hang out at the hot springs 😉

naturist 0015  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

We stayed at the Oak House community lodge, but if I come again, I think I’ll go for tenting next to one of those natural hot springs.

This place is perfect if want to connect with nature at ease – it’s everywhere around you, and even such luxury as hot baths are natural there. On my first walk around, I was amazed to see several deer right off the trail that seem to be quite tame. I didn’t have my camera that time, but when I grabbed it, there was a rabbit instead, but it was a bit shier.

rabbit 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USArabbit 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

I saw quite a few deer on a random trail afterwards, and it looked like they felt pretty much the same as human visitors of OLT – relaxed 😉

deer 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Fawns, however, seemed to be more alert and cautious,

deer 0002  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USAdeer 0003  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

so as squirrels (unlike their Central Park counterparts).

squirrel 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

As I continued going up the mountain, I also apparently scared the whole flock of grouse, as they noisily took off the ground and sat on the trees around me.

grouse 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USAgrouse 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

The views from the trail were beautiful: multicolored hills and mountains,

view 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

magnificent San Luis Valley,

view 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

and cute tiny settlement of Orient Land Trust itself…

view 0002  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

At the top of the nearest peak to OLT, there was a primitive stone construction by a dead tree – not sure about its purpose, but it could protect you from the wind if you decide to camp there.

view 0004  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

As I looked down at the forest on the opposite slope, it caught my attention how various the vegetation appeared to be, with patches of different broad-leaf and coniferous trees sticking to each other, and other parts covered by grass or bushes.

view 0005  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Aspen trees with their white barks stood out in the sea of green.

aspen forest 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

As aspens let a lot of light to reach the ground, a lot of other plants can grow in such a forest.

aspen forest 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

And if aspens caught my eyes’ attention, my nose was pleased with conifers –

conifer 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

many of them released sap on  their young cones, and it provided a pleasant aroma.

conifer 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Too bad I didn’t see any edible fruits. This one below looked like a gooseberry, but I wasn’t sure.

gooseberry 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

This plant below had beautiful leaves,

plant 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

but the main attraction was of course flowers,

flowering plant 0006  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

which were in abundance all over the mountain but especially on non-forested slopes.

flowering plant 0010  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USAflowering plant 0009  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USAflowering plant 0008  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Colors spanned the whole spectrum.

flowering plant 0007  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USAflowering plant 0012  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USAflowering plant 0002  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

My favorite was probably this one below.

flowering plant 0004  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Flowers mean butterflies (and hummingbirds, in this part of the world, but we’ll get to them later).

holly blue butterfly 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

But not all butterflies were busy pollinating flowers.

butterfly 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Cactus flowers seemed to be more popular among bees though.

cactus 0003  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

I was surprised to see so many cacti species so far up north and at relatively high elevation,

cactus 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

but they were clearly at limit of their ecological tolerance,

cactus 0005  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

as all of them were very short.

cactus 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

I wonder if sticking together helps cacti survive winter.

cactus 0004  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Well, at least some of them clearly showed their love to the place ❤

cactus 0006  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

And as much as I love cacti, I don’t like stepping on their spikes… oh, have I mentioned that hiked not only bare but barefoot too?

naturist 0016  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

The terrain was quite rough even without spikes, but all that pain made relaxation in hot springs only sweeter.

naturist 0009  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

So, finally I’m getting to describe you what Orient Land Trust is probably most known for – geothermal springs in truly natural setting! There are a few pools with different temperature of water, different levels of accessibility and seclusion. The uppermost of the upper three pools has an extra feature: air bubbles seep through its bottom caressing your body on their way to the surface.

naturist 0011  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

The middle of the upper pools is one of the smallest, but its depth is just perfect to lie down and enjoy the flow of warm water over your body.

naturist 0012  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

After that, I was ready for another hike! (I’ll get back to description of other hot springs of OLT in a bit.)

view 0006  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

At around 18:00, together with many other visitors and a guide, we headed out to the abandoned Orient Mine turned home to the largest bat colony in Colorado to see the spectacle of thousands bats leaving their cave to prey on insects at dusk.

view 0007  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

The views on the way were stunning again.

view 0008  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

The excavated red earth stark perfect contrast to the green, whereas the valley literally on the other side of the road was covered by dry grass.

view 0009  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Typically for OLT, we were greeted by a deer chilling by the bush.

deer 0004  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

I snacked on ‘Bear Naked’ energy bar (I see an ad potential here!)

naturist 0013  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

The trail was very easy, with only one decent uphill hike, after which we had a break at a cliff with magnificent view of the valley.

naturist 0003  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

The sea of dry grass  spotted by green trees and bush thickets presented a beautiful picture.

view 0010  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Then, the beams of sunlight coming onto the valley between the mountains and clouds created yet more splendid view.

view 0011  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

As the last sun rays of the day touched our skin, we hurried to the Orient Mine cave.

naturist 0005  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

While we waited for the bats to emerge, I was try it to figure my at-the-time-new-to-me camera settings, that would work well for a fast moving small object in dark conditions.

view 0012  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

I could certainly catch the colors of sunset,

view 0013  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

and an airplane gaseous trace,

view 0014  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

but I failed to take any decent photograph of bats.

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You’ll just have to believe my word or go to OLT webpage about their bats to see photos and videos.

bats 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

It was a mesmerizing nature’s spectacle! As we were told by our guide, these bats were mainly males of a tropical species that migrate there for the summer, it was funny to think of the cave as a huge bachelor resort for bats and their huge night feast in the valley.

By that time, it got substantially colder and I was the only one left naked. It was still ok for me, especially after we started walking, but I was looking forward to the hot springs. At night, we only went to the pools that were closer to the campground, and although they were pretty full, it was still easy to find a nice spot for yourself. At the biggest pool, we were treated with yet another amazing nature’s spectacle: incredibly bright starry sky and fireflies ‘dancing’ around us. Unfortunately I didn’t even try to photograph this, but the whole experience was magic.

Next morning, we went to the upper pools again and enjoyed the views from the lowest of the three. By the way, there was mint growing right next to it, so it smelled nice around too.

naturist 0007  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

This geothermal infinity pool is just priceless, and I hope I’ll enjoy it again some day!

Right before our departure, I found hummingbird trapped in the bathroom.

saving hummingbird 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Luckily, I have a lot of experience handling birds,

saving hummingbird 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

so I easily caught it while it was bumping into the window and set it free outside.

saving hummingbird 0002  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

I must say that I myself felt pretty much free as a bird at Orient Land Trust, I wish there were more places like that!

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]

Dream Canyon in Colorado

naturist 0008 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

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

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

view 0000 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

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

naturist 0001 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

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

naturist 0007 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

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

Oregon grape holly 0000 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

We continued our hike down, however,

naturist 0006 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

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

naturist 0002 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

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

naturist 0003 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

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

naturist 0004 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

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

naturist 0005 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

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

hiking and bouldering in Painted Canyon (California)

naturist 0015 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

view 0015 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

view 0008 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

naturist 0001 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

naturist 0000 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

naturist 0014 Mecca Hills, California, USA

We continued the hike,

view 0011 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

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

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

view 0002 Mecca Hills, California, USA

dotted

view 0014 Mecca Hills, California, USA

and striped,

view 0013 Mecca Hills, California, USA

green

view 0003 Mecca Hills, California, USA

and pink-red!

naturist 0003 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

view 0012 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

naturist 0002 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

naturist 0016 Mecca Hills, California, USA

a hummingbird!

Anna's hummingbird 0002 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

Anna's hummingbird 0000 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

Anna's hummingbird 0003 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

Anna's hummingbird 0004 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

desert plants 0000 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

desert plants 0002 Mecca Hills, California, USA

and many of them blooming, in such arid conditions.

desert plants 0001 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

cactus 0001 Mecca Hills, California, USA

This one seemed to be very well protected.

cactus 0000 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

view 0004 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

view 0018 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

naturist 0006 Mecca Hills, California, USA

perhaps a naked man? 😀

naturist 0007 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

naturist 0008 Mecca Hills, California, USA

It was quite easy to climb up,

naturist 0019 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

naturist 0013 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

naturist 0018 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

naturist 0020 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

view 0006 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

naturist 0010 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

naturist 0021 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

view 0007 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

naturist 0012 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

view 0016 Mecca Hills, California, USA

but we still got the last sun rays.

view 0017 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

Next day, we visited Morongo Valley,

naturist 0022 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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

naturist 0023 Mecca Hills, California, USA

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