flying and swimming at cenote Azul in Bacalar, Mexico

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naturist swimming 0007 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

Cenote Azul is nothing less than an amazing body of water – azure, clear water that goes immediately into abyss, right off the edge of its shore.

lake view 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

We’ve already described quite a few cenotes in the vicinity of Tulum and Merida, Yucatan. Each cenote is different, but this one is very special. For once, it’s really huge, for a sinkhole, which it essentially is, and it’s right next the world famous resort at the lake Bacalar.

So, I was very skeptical of a possibility to enjoy this nature’s wonder au naturel, but luckily I had my local CouchSurfing host George to show me around – and he knew where to go. Most of the shore is covered  in vegetation, and there is a “hidden” access across from the tourist area with a restaurant.

lake view 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

They wouldn’t see what you wear not wear under water anyway

naturist underwater 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

– or above water for that matter either 😉

naturist tree 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

And is this how fish see us from below?

naturist underwater 0007 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

Not such a pretty picture, unless they are into impressionist art…

We, however, could see the fish very well in that clear water, and plenty of it:

lake fish 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

some swimming freely, and others attached to the underwater tree trunks.

lake fish 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

So were we – soaring above the blue abyss,

naturist swimming 0008 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

with occasional rest at the underwater trees…

naturist underwater 0008 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

Nowhere else did swimming feel so much like flying, with the boundary between air and water seemingly imaginary…

naturist swimming 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

We felt like birds! … or bats?

naturist tree 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

As we climbed the trees, we actually awakened some bats, quite a lot of them!

bats 0001 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

We would never have noticed them sleeping on the trunks otherwise.

bats 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

And they were quite an inspiration:

naturist diving 0000 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

we took off the tree branches

naturist swimming 0002 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

and flew back into the blue abyss!

lake view 0002 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

As you can tell by this story, Cenote Azul felt magical.

naturist swimming 0006 Cenote Azul, Chetumal, Quintana-Roo, Mexico

It’s impossible to really express it with words and photography, but perhaps this video will do a better job.

thermal pool ‘El Tambo’ in Papallacta, Ecuador

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By coincidence, as I was preparing yesterday this blogpost about an outing with the group of Nudismo Ecuador a year ago, they went to the same place; so I am starting with a few photos from their recent trip

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… and continue with the story of my visit: A few years ago I got an idea to travel to either Ecuador or Peru and of course looked up options for naturism; Ecuador seemed to have a much more vibrant naturist community with a few active groups. I had to cancel and postpone my trip a couple of times, but a year ago I finally went there and indeed found a good bunch of local naturists. There is a couple of groups in Quito, with weekly gatherings at a pool with sauna and less frequent outings to thermal pools outside the city. Even though Ecuador is situated (you’ve guessed it!) at the equator, the capital and a few other major cities have pretty cool or even chilly climate being high up in the mountains (Quito is the second highest capital city in the world), so hot springs is a natural choice if you want to hang out naked. I had been in touch with one of the local naturist groups – Nudismo Ecuador – for a while, so when my plans solidified, I made sure to coordinate to meet up with them. So a dozen of us went to the thermal pools of Papallacta east of Quito.

There are no officially designated clothing-optional pools, but some admit naturist groups with prior arrangements. This one is called ‘El Tambo’. If you want to enjoy it sans clothes, coordinate with Nudismo Ecuador by e-mail. After parking, there is a short pebble walkway (quite slippery from the mist),

view 0000 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

on which we stripped off right away, as from then on only sheep could see us. They seemed a bit a amused,

naturist 0003 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

as at this altitude of 3.5km asl, even some plants prefer to have a wooly cover.

plants 0003 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

So, yes, it was quite chilly, especially in the mountain mist, so we quickly proceeded to the pool,

naturist 0004 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

although some preferred to gain some body heat from running around the pool first.

naturist 0005 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

But once we were in, it was pure relaxation… until more group member arrived and we decided to play a ball game. The invented it on their own, so I was curious to try!

naturist water ball 0000 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

While water volleyball is common at naturist resorts,

naturist water ball 0002 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

this one is more reminiscent of rugby: you score by touching the “gate” area of the opponent team.

naturist water ball 0003 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

Due to having to run in water, passes are more common in this game,

naturist water ball 0004 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

and less chance of injuries from tackling.

naturist water ball 0005 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

We did take it seriously, so the victory was well celebrated =)

naturist water ball 0006 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

After the game, we were certainly warm enough to venture out for a brief hike, even though it was drizzling.

naturist 0001 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

Some of the mountain peaks around are covered in snow – it would have been even more amazing to see them while hiking naked or enjoying the pool, but there was a thick cloud blocking the view (typical for the area).

view 0003 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

We went down to a small river,

view 0001 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

and on its bank there was a natural thermal spring

view 0004 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

with contrasting, almost neon, colors.

naturist 0000 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

All that moist results in dense vegetation.

plants 0000 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

Some plants were blooming,

plants 0001 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

and tree trunks were covered in ferns, moss and lichens.

plants 0002 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

After the hike, it was already time to go back to Quito, but that hot shower felt amazing!

naturist 0002 balneario Tambo, Papallacta, Ecuador

So even though there is not much official recognition of naturism in Ecuador, local naturists are certainly very active, and my further travel proved that there is plenty of opportunities for naturism!

Naked in Motion – 2 years of nude yoga in New York, and counting

naturist yoga 0000 Naked in Motion, New York City, NY, USA

Naked in Motion‘ is a group of a few yogis in New York City and Boston with a great mission “to create spaces where all people can experience the freedom and empowerment of clothes-free movement without worrying about their safety”, and they have been making lots of buzz in press! So much in fact, that it’s hard to believe they are only two years old. This is particularly encouraging, given that many naturist events and organizations in NYC have recently disappeared, e.g., body-painting dance parties, Zensual yoga, Vita Nuda gatherings and sudden departure of YNA (I certainly miss their Nude Year’s Eve parties).

So, I finally made it to visit ‘Naked in Motion‘ – for their birthday class last Saturday (which only makes more sense to celebrate in birthday suits). The class was led by the founder – Willow,

naturist yoga 0002 Naked in Motion, New York City, NY, USA

and she made sure it was a safe and comfortable experience for all. Before the class, she read ‘Community Rules’ (which also came in the confirmation email). Frankly, I am not a fan of rules, but I may be just used to being in the naturist environment, where there is usually no need for such rules to be told explicitly – I  heard from other newcomers that they appreciated this approach. The major part of the rules ensures that the environment is non-sexual and body-positive, and a subset is aimed to women and transgender people in particular, as they may have additional hurdles on their way to feeling comfortable in their own skin.

naturist yoga 0003 Naked in Motion, New York City, NY, USA

After all, ‘self-kindness’ seems to be the major goal of this class. You can read more about this approach and mission of ‘Naked in Motion’ on their website, as well as in their numerous interviews – from local New York Post and Time Out New York to Today News Africa.

As this was a celebratory event, it ended with some food (even naked yogis love pizza), mocktails, and socializing – not surprisingly, but totally unexpectedly, I bumped into some friends from Sandy Hook. In the absence of the beach during winter, such events are only more appealing!

naturist yoga 0001 Naked in Motion, New York City, NY, USA

My excuse for taking so long to this class is that I have a luxury of having a weekly private yoga gathering where I live, and I would certainly go back frequently, if I didn’t have this luxury. Given that Naked in Motion provides several classes a week right by Penn Station, there is no excuse to not check out their class if you live in New York metropolitan area (or visiting) and up for some naked yoga. My next visit will be for pilates though – I’ve never done it before, and I love trying new things in the buff!

And to sum up, here is a minute-long documentary about them.

hiking the Appalachian trail in Vermont… as nature intended

naturist 0004 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Although the US has a fame for being a prude country, there are some local exceptions, and Vermont is one of them: there is no state law against public nudity (though there is one against disrobing in public :D) And with all those green mountains around (just think of the state’s name etymology), it’s a perfect destination for naturists!

My long-time pen pal Ed organizes an  annual summer solstice naked hike in Vermont, and though I could never make it for this group hike itself, I went on the same route with Ed and another friend, Matt, just later in summer (mid-August).

naturist 0000 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

The route includes a part of the famous Appalachian trail, so you’d expect a few fellow hikers, but it’s great to have the law on your side – just make sure to leave your car naked, and you don’t need to hide!-)

naturist 0003 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Shortly after the trailhead, we got to a small waterfall

naturist 0002 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

– nice to start the hike on a fresh note!

Make sure to take advantage of this skinny-dipping spot, because after that the trail gets very steep.

naturist 0005 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

The forest is dominated by fir trees – young and old,

naturist 0006 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

and ferns are common in the undergrowth.

fern 0000 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

But then we came across something spectacular. You may know of the hikers’ tradition to pile stones into cairns, but here it has been taken to another level!

view 0000 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

It looked like a miniature city lost in the woods.

naturist 0007 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

We left our contribution too, but mostly just marveled at the scale of this cairn.

naturist 0010 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Some of the installations were amazingly balanced at the trees and appeared as if suspended in the air!

naturist 0009 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

When we got to the open space at one of the highest points of the trail, we enjoyed the great views

naturist 0011 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

and some flat rocks that served well for resting.

naturist 0012 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

What else could we ask for? Maybe some berries?

plants with berries 0000 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

There weren’t any edibles around (at least as fat as we could tell), but we saw some pretty fruits,

plants with berries 0001 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

including this dark-blue berry.

plants with berries 0002 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Then there was another spot with cairns –

naturist 0013 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

not as massive but perhaps even more impressive in terms of the art of balancing those uneven stones.

view 0001 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Yes, here hikers take cairns seriously!

naturist 0014 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

We didn’t cross many streams,

naturist 0015 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

but about two-thirds of the route we came to a lake –

view 0002 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Little Rock Pond, actually. It was great to refresh and swim in its clear waters. There was a ranger, but again, here we didn’t have to worry that our natural attire would cause any trouble in legal terms. There were a couple more nude swimmers, and the rest didn’t seem appalled by nudity either.

But then, all of a sudden, came a heavy downpour and we had to rush out. It was actually quite a warm rain, and as you might know, the skin is waterproof – so we didn’t feel the need to wear clothes. It was an interesting experience to walk in the forest in such a heavy rain, but it did prevent us from the idea of camping there.

Next day, we explored another trail, which lead to the Stratton Pond (east of the Stratton Mountain).

naturist 0017 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

This trail was mostly flat. About midway, it passed along a mossy swamp,

view 0003 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

which provided a nice change of the scenery. However, many of the trees in the swamp were dead, and seemed to have died recently. This swamp was apparently a result of beavers building a damn on the stream there… Oh well, if only they heard about climate change challenge, maybe they’d spare some of those trees…

view 0004 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Soon after that, we approached the lake, and of course we wanted to go for a swim.

naturist 0016 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

We took the trail around the lake (to the left) and found a nice spot for a camp (would be perfect for an overnight stay!),

view 0006 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

even with some food supplies,

view 0005 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

but more importantly – with good access to the water!

naturist 0018 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

We weren’t the only ones enjoying the water though. This pristine lake was a home to many newts

newt 0002 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

and dragonfly nymphs!

dragonfly larva 0000 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Amazing to see insects the same size of a vertebrate next to each other, and probably if newts lived in the water at juvenile stages, they’d be hunted by dragonfly nymphs. But their life cycles are reversed: the nymphs eventually come out of water and transform into dragonflies, whereas it is the juvenile form of newts, eft, that lives on land.

newt 0000 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

The bright orange color of eft’s skin warns of its poisonous properties,

newt 0001 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

so better don’t hold them in your hands however cute they may seem. (But who knows what they transform into on later stages?)

Same probably goes for some brightly colored berries that we saw on this trail, though I’m not sure what they are.

plants with berries 0003 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

But luckily there were some delicious blueberries too!

plants with berries 0004 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

By mid-August, blubbery season is usually over in my local Harriman Park, but here in Vermont they seem to ripen later. So it was good to get some extra for the summer.

mushrooms 0001 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

There was an abundance of mushrooms of all kinds as well,

mushrooms 0002 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

some of them might be poisonous,

mushrooms 0004 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

others edible.

mushrooms 0003 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

I use an app from Audubon society to detect mushrooms, and boletes, like this two-colored one

mushrooms 0000 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

or white suillus, are easy to distinguish.

mushrooms 0005 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

A few of the local bolete species turn blue when bruised, especially noticeable against the yellow pores.

mushrooms 0006 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

But in this case, the bright color is not a warning sign – just a result of the oxidation of pulvinic acid derivatives, none of which is poisonous. So, on the way back we collected enough mushrooms for a delicious soup!

mushrooms 0007 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

But even without all these wild gourmet treats, the trails of Vermont are calling us, we’ll surely be back!

the legendary Ledges of Vermont

naturist 0001 Ledges at Harriman Reservoir, Vermont, USA

They might be legendary only in a relatively narrow circle among those who like nude recreation, but the Ledges in Vermont was one of the first naturist locations I heard of in the US, and this place is certainly worth the hype.  The Ledges represent flat rocks situated on the Eastern shore of the Harriman Reservoir.

naturist 0000 Ledges at Harriman Reservoir, Vermont, USA

The lake is mostly surrounded by forest, so the shores are green, and the water is very clean (the bottom is dark though, so it makes the water look dark too). So the Ledges give an impression of a pristine place, despite being very popular and quite crowded on weekends – the parking lot was full, and quite a few people arrived by boats.

naturist 0001 Ledges at Harriman Reservoir, Vermont, USA

The name of Harriman is already associated with naturist activities for me, because of numerous naked hikes that we’ve done in Harriman State Park in New York, but this place is recognized as clothing-optional officially!

naturist 0005 Ledges at Harriman Reservoir, Vermont, USA

We spent a great August day there – swimming, sunbathing, chatting – so when the time came to leave, it was hard to do so

naturist 0003 Ledges at Harriman Reservoir, Vermont, USA

to the extent that some of us felt glued to the place…

skinny-dipping in the Adirondacks

naturist 0001 Potholers, Adirondacks, New York, USA

The Adirondacks are great for hiking and kayaking, but even relaxing by a creek may turn out very special there, as it happened to us at the so-called Potholers on the East Canada Creek. One of the reasons was that it was secluded enough to have the spot to ourselves most of the time, so we stayed comfortably naked.

naturist 0000 Potholers, Adirondacks, New York, USA

Upstream from where we stayed, the creek was deep enough for swimming.

naturist 0010 Potholers, Adirondacks, New York, USA

Downstream were the rocks, flat and comfortable – you can’t ask for a better way of relaxation than chilling outdoors with the sound of running water.

naturist 0011 Potholers, Adirondacks, New York, USA

Well, maybe if you get in that running water for a shoulder massage!

naturist 0004 Potholers, Adirondacks, New York, USA

Some of the “potholes” create perfect natural bathtubs, where you could sit with the water flowing over your shoulders and massaging you! And the temperature of the water was (in July) just perfect – refreshing but not chilling.

naturist 0007 Potholers, Adirondacks, New York, USA

It was also nice to go behind that water wall and close yourself from the outer world for a moment.

naturist 0003 Potholers, Adirondacks, New York, USA

Of course you could still see through, even though quite distorted. But there were some very peculiar things to observe indeed!

Check out this video:

We are pretty sure this behavior has never been seen (or at least recorded) before, and we still don’t know its meaning. What is it?

Maybe that is what happens when naturists become naturalists and artists at the some time 🙂

On that trip, we also visited the G-lake. It was great for swimming, but while bushwalking around it, one of us got stung by wild bees!

naturist view 0000 G Lake, Adirondacks, New York, USA

And not to make you completely against the idea of visiting this lake, we also saw a leech there. But it was actually a pretty sight, because it swam gracefully at the surface and was brightly colored – green with orange spots; so I actually regretted I didn’t have my camera at that moment. Well, but at least we were lucky to record the elusive Homo tritonii at the Potholers!

Raja Ampat archipelago in the Indonesian Papua: paradise above and under water

bahasa Indonesia

naturist 0002 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Who wouldn’t like a full week spent at a tropical, green archipelago surrounded by pristine waters? Writing this makes me want to throw myself back to those worry-free 7 days (almost a year ago) of a sailing trip at one of the natural marine wonders of our planet.

clown fish coral reef 0001 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

This post comes all the way from the magnificent marine park of Raja Ampat in Papua.

islands view 0011 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Raja Ampat is an archipelago on the northern tip of the Bird’s Peninsula on the island of New Guinea or Papua, as it’s locally called. It belongs to Indonesian territory and is one of the easternmost provinces in the archipelago. Raja Ampat is a local language for Four Kings. In terms of history, Raja Ampat Archipelago in the 15th century was part of the reign of Tidore Sultanate, a great kingdom centered in Moluccas Islands. The Sultanate of Tidore appointed 4 local kings to rule the islands of Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati and Misool, which are the four largest islands to this day. The term 4 Kings who rule the islands became the root of the name Raja Ampat.

We spent the whole week in Raja Ampat. We were a group of 6, sailing on a wooden boat to explore the archipelago. This is the best way to explore the area: since it is an archipelago, you need to spend most of your days on or in the water to get the best experience of Raja Ampat.

Raja Ampat is claimed to boast the richest marine biodiversity in the world.

clown fish coral reef 0000 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Right from the moment I arrived in the islands, I couldn’t stop my admiration of the beautiful surroundings – its breathtaking landscape and waters just blew my mind away.

naturist 0001 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Many locals claimed these islands to be a paradise on Earth, and I must agree with that statement!

islands view 0004 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

We started from the central islands of the archipelago.

islands view 0003 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

We were presented with a wide array of beautiful corals from the first days.

coral reef 0008 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

They were very colorful and in good shape

coral reef 0007 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

– encouraging to see that in the age when many coral reefs suffer from bleaching due to pollution.

coral reef 0000 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

The fish too were no less colorful, as if they were competing to win the best outfit.

coral reef 0002 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Merely by snorkeling, you can see the best of Raja Ampat.

naturist 0005 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Yes, you need very minimal 😉 gear to enjoy all that extraordinary underwater world!

naturist 0007 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

The next days were spent venturing northbound

islands view 0007 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

to get to Wayag –

islands view 0010 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

the jungle covered islets, that often appear in the internet as a classic example of ‘tropical paradise’.

islands view 0006 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, fishing, are among the things you could enjoy in the sailing trips… In Raja Ampat, you can even feed sharks and swim with them too!

shark coral reef 0000 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Well, they weren’t that huge, but at first it was scary and made me nervous… Soon enough though, I found myself mingle with those sharks at ease, which was quite fascinating.

There are lodges on the bigger islands, and some of them offer full packages, where you can do a lot of water activities. But for me, sailing trip seemed to be the best way to experience Raja Ampat, as it allowed to wander as far as we wanted.

islands view 0012 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

It was also great to have some breaks from being on/in the water, and explore the islands – even hiking naked in the tropical forest!

islands view 0008 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

While the rest of the group were not keen on disrobing, I managed to exercise some naturism, mostly away from the group. I must admit that I am a newbie to naturism, which prevented me from being myself and naked in the whole journey… but I still enjoyed a good portion of it in the buff! I still recall how nice it felt to be naked and let the tropical breeze sweep your skin.

naturist 0010 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

It was definitely hot, but enjoyable. As many have said, the sun is the best treatment.

naturist 0004 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

Best part? Of course swimming naked and snorkeling in the most beautiful underwater world!

naturist 0009 Raja Ampat, Papua, Indonesia

If you are keen on spending some of the best days of your life in this paradise, I would surely recommend you to visit the islands. The authorities restrict the number of tourists visiting the islands, which is actually nice, as you can enjoy the islands almost all to yourself when you get there, especially, once again, if you take a sailing trip. The crew of the boat might be not too familiar with naturism, if you want to make it a nude sailing trip, but I think they’d be open enough if you could explain it to them.

 

text and imagery by Miko

Tyagarah lake, Australia

Tyagarah Lake is located in Northern New South Wales, Australia, about a 30 drive minutes from well known Byron Bay (and the very popular naturist spot Kings Beach). It is a picturesque small freshwater lake just minutes from the beach. A much larger lake is across the road next it but this is swampy and inaccessible.

view 0002 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

Tyagarah Lake is a popular spot for locals and not a known tourist spot, as it’s off the main highway, on a dirt road and not near any towns.  But it is still easy to get to: turn off the Pacific Highway onto Greys Lane and follow it as it turns into a dirt road on the way to Tyagarah Nature reserve beach. Before you make it to the beach you will see cars parked on the road.

view 0005 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

Look for the Tyagarah Nature reserve signs to find the path in.  It’s only a very short 3 min walk in to reach the lake.

naturist 0000 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

While I like it as the main destination for the day it is also a popular stop when driving back from Tyagarah Beach (also a naturist spot!) to rinse off the ocean and sand on the way home.  It is such a beautiful peaceful spot.

naturist 0001 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

The water is never too cold and is the perfect temperature to jump right in.

naturist 0003 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

The surrounding trees go right up the waters edge providing many shady resting spots.

view 0004 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

The surrounding trees are known as “Tea Trees” or “Paperbarks” (Melaleuca alternifolia).

Tea tree (paperback) 0001 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

This is what makes the lake particularly special. At first glance the water looks brown and barely swimmable, but it because when Tea Trees grow beside a lake, their oil drips down into the water making it look like tea.

view 0001 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

The water is very fresh and clean and the oil leaves a lovely moisturizing residue on your skin.

tea tree 0000 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

Tea Tree oil has been used traditionally by Australian Aboriginal people as an antiseptic on the skin and as an insect repellant. Squeezing the small leaves releases the oil and a refreshing scent.

Tea tree 0002 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

Tyagarah is named from an Aboriginal word meaning tussocks of sharp bladed grass. There is lots of grass of this description growing in the lake, so it is well named.

view 0003 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

Other beautiful sights on the lake are the water lilies and dragonflies.

dragonfly on water lily 0000 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

When it’s time to leave after a last swim and before you put your clothes back on, a short walk can be taken all the way around the lake and reveals and some smaller inlets and swampy areas.

naturist 0002 Tyagarah lake, New South Wales, Australia

walking through the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

naturist 0010 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

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

cones 0000 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

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

cones 0001 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

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

cones 0003 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

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

cones 0006 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

sometimes forming “rivers” of cones.

naturist 0005 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

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

view 0008 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

and eventually would grow for thousands years on!

tree 0010 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

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

view 0010 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

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

view 0002 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

there are some other plants too.

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

plant 0000 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

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

plant 0001 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

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

tree 0007 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

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

tree 0008 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

If you are not so much into botany,

naturist 0006 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

the views are pretty amazing too!

view 0004 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

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

naturist 0011 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

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

view 0007 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

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

naturist 0001 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

But you can always chill in the shade too…

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

naturist 0002 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

And some of them offer even cozier seats for lounging

naturist 0013 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

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

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

Secret Cove at Lake Tahoe

naturist 0003 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

Secret Cove on the Lake Tahoe shore was our “decompression” destination after Burning Man last year, but it surely would have been an amazing place to visit even if we hadn’t spent a week in the dusty desert: crystal clear water and fresh mountain air is a great start, but add to that stunning views and a nice laid-back atmosphere, and you’ll see why this spot is so remarkable.

view 0003 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

You can enjoy the views of snow-peaked mountains while sunbathing and swimming naked – a combination that is hard to find. As our previous post-burn destinations were oceanic beaches of San Francisco – Marshall’s and Baker – where the water is always cold and obviously salty, Lake Tahoe was clearly a better choice for rehydration of the body, as we could swim in its fresh and refreshing waters.

Lake Tahoe is famous for its large smooth boulders,

view 0006 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

and some of the ones at Secret Cove look especially peculiar with their spheric shapes

view 0002 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

– also nice to sit on and relax.

naturist 0006 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

A little farther away, the boulders are used for the same purpose by ducks.

view 0000 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

Another creature that you’re likely to see sunbathing on the rocks but away from the water is the sagebrush lizard.

sagebrush lizard 0002 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

Though it’s quite shy and will hide in the bushes if you approach it.

sagebrush lizard 0000 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

You won’t need to hide your naked self from anyone though, as Secret Cove is an officially recognized clothing-optional location,

view 0004 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

popular with locals and tourists alike. Of course most visitors opt for no clothes. This might be a reason why the atmosphere is so friendly there; e.g., I overheard a conversation between a local couple and tourists from Switzerland who had just met there, and an hour later the former invited the latter for a family dinner 🙂

naturist 0000 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

It gets quite busy in the afternoon, as that’s when the thin mountain air gets finally warm (but beware that high altitude also means stronger sun activity). Given that it’s a relatively small cove surrounded by high banks, it doesn’t get too windy. The mornings, however, can be quite chilly even in August and September, and you are more likely to encounter bird-watchers rather than nude sunbathers during early hours.

As an alternative to driving and hiking, some people arrive by boats

naturist 0001 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

or paddle-boards, for which Lake Tahoe must perfect.

view 0007 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

When we were there, two women did yoga on the paddle board, something I’m eager to try sometime to challenge my balancing skills.

A large portion of Lake Tahoe shore, including the Secret Cove, is covered by coniferous forest. The most notable tree is the sugar pine,

view 0005 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

which is the tallest pine species

sugar pine 0002 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

and boasts the longest cones of any conifers.

sugar pine 0001 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

I’m not sure why it’s got its name, perhaps due to the sap leaking from the cones that may appear like a sweet nectar.

Cones of the Jeffrey pine are quite impressive too,

Jeffrey pine cones 0000 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

but there are animals who clearly appreciate more than just their appearance:

chipmunk 0001 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

chipmunks are quite ubiquitous there.

chipmunk 0002 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

The incense cedars reminded me of the redwoods on California coast, though their size is relatively modest.

naturist 0008 Secret Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA

The Secret Coved proved to be a great place to reconnect with nature and friends!