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

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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).

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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 😉

Harriman State Park? Anytime!

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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.)

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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.)

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

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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.

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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.

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

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viola,

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berberis (green this time),

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and multiple white-blooming trees;

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Here is a pink raspberry with purple flowers!

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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!

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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 🙂

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Sometimes a cup of tea is the only thing needed,

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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…

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

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

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

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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:

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

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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.

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

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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 🙂

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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.

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

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

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

WNBR in Northern Hemisphere is coming!

World Naked Bike Ride will gather thousands of cyclists in many cities of the Northern Hemisphere to promote cycling as a mode of urban transportation, as well as body acceptance. The dress code is “as bare as you dare”, but in my opinion being naked is the best way to get the message across: cyclists use the power of human body for commuting in the city – so, show that body! – and yet we are the ones who are most prone to the truly indecent exposure to the traffic and vehicle pollution. In most cities, including my current hometown NYC, the ride will be held on Saturday the 13th. You can see the list of participating cities here, though it’s not entirely updated – look up if you have a local World Naked Bike Ride near you!

You can see my reports from WNBR in NYC 2013 and 2012, Boston WNBR 2014, as well as from Madrid in 2009Philly Naked Bike Ride was in is the biggest one I’ve participated so far. As long, as NYPD doesn’t disturb us like last year, we should have a fun ride all along – come and join WNBR NYC if you’re around:
Bodies assembly at 4:00pm, ride departs by 5:00 pm sharp. Arrive early for body painting, trainings, teach-ins, and socializing! Volunteers plan on coming early!
Grand Ferry Park; final route will be communicated to riders who show up only. More details on WNBR NYC wiki page!

wnbrNYC2015

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

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

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

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

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But some of us seemed to miss water already 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

some upcoming events this month

WNBR NYC 2014

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

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

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

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

Autumn colors at the Silver Mine Lake

naturist 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

I’ve been describing new spots around New York state in the last couple of weeks, but this is from a place that should be familiar to many readers – Silver Mine Lake at Harriman State Park. I just wanted to share some nice pictures with autumn colors, which are quite rare on this blog due to its temperature-sensitive theme 😉

food from farmers market 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

However, there was a very warm weekend in October that Ramon and I spent there. Saturday felt actually like summer, and I didn’t even take pictures, because I thought I had more than enough from this lake. Only on the next day, when it started raining and was foggy, did it occur to me that it was actually fall time.

autumn view 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

So here are the amazing multicolored leaves

autumn view 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and the lake itself in the fog.

autumn view 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

It was still surprisingly warm, and we walked around in the buff, feeling the soft drizzle on our skin.

naturist 0003 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Here are what Ramon called ‘blending’ photos – blending with landscape.

naturist 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

The fogged lens gave a nice effect too.

naturist 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

It was nice to close off hiking and swimming season at Harriman State Park on such a fabulous day! Looking forward to the next one!

kayaking the Sacandaga River and Good Luck Lake in South Adirondacks

view 0000 Sacandaga River, Adirondack, NY, USA

Besides hiking, Adirondack Park offers great kayaking too. Teddy, like many locals, has his own kayaks so we went to explore the West Branch of Sacandaga River and Good Luck Lake – with that name, you needn’t think twice about checking it out, and it turned out beautiful too! The banks of the canal that lead to Good Luck lake were full of blooming aquatic plants.

water plants 0000 Sacandaga River, Adirondack, NY, USA

The views from the Good Luck lake made us feel lucky!

Lucky Lake 0000 Sacandaga River, Adirondack, NY, USA

And we were indeed lucky to see a family of elusive loons. Their calls echoed because of the hills surrounding the lake, it sounded quite spooky.

loon 0000 Good Luck Lake, Adirondack Park, New York, USA

We stayed at the lake till sunset, and next day returned to explore the Sacandaga River more.

naturist 0009 Adirondack, NY, USA

That part of Sacandaga River is just perfect for laid-back kayaking: the current is not too strong, and the width allows easy maneuvering and yet being close enough to the banks not to miss any wildlife, that you’re likely to see there.

However, there are some places that hard to go through because of fallen trees.

kayaking 0000 Sacandaga River, Adirondack, NY, USA

Still, we managed to get through without too much hassle.

kayaking 0001 Sacandaga River, Adirondack, NY, USA

The bottom was mostly sandy, but in some places there were algae that looked like smooth golden-green hair.

water plants 0001 Sacandaga River, Adirondack, NY, USA

Going further up from Good Luck lake, we had more and more places that were too shallow to paddle easily,

view 0001 Sacandaga River, Adirondack, NY, USA

so the best way to continue was lifting up and crawling with the arms while still seated in kayak.

naturist 0003 Adirondack, NY, USA

But after the bridge, it became too rocky and shallow to continue in kayaks. We walked for a bit, but there was no sign it was going to improve any time soon.

naturist 0008 Adirondack, NY, USA

I think I forgot to mention, that ironically, Teddy’s dog was the only one clothed 😀 Teddy just didn’t want him to get lost.

blackberries 0000 Sacandaga River, Adirondack, NY, USA

It was nice to make a pause from rowing and get some blackberries. After that, we headed back downstream, and stopped at a little sandy beach. There was a fellow kayaker passing by, he seemed cool with us being naked but wondered why we didn’t have any ladies with us. We suggested him to work on that next time 😀

view 0002 Sacandaga River, Adirondack, NY, USA

Down another bridge, the flow was even calmer. We tried to go through a small channel, but it was blocked by a beaver dam.

beaver dam 0000 Sacandaga River, Adirondack, NY, USA

Well, it turned out that main branch was dammed by beavers too, just a few feet up!

beaver dam 0001 Sacandaga River, Adirondack, NY, USA

But it wasn’t too difficult to get over it and was actually fun!

naturist 0004 Adirondack, NY, USA

We heard some big animals running through the bushes – could be deer or bears – but the only wildlife we were lucky to see that time was a blue heron.

heron 0000 Sacandaga River, Adirondack, NY, USA

It seemed to be pretty busy fishing and didn’t pay much attention to us.

heron 0001 Sacandaga River, Adirondack, NY, USA

Given that Adirondack Park is ‘the largest state-level protected area in the contiguous United States’, there is obviously more to explore. Looking forward to the next trip to Adirondacks!

hiking to the Tenant Creek Falls in Adirondacks

naturist 0000 Adirondack, NY, USA

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

Tenant Creek Falls 0000 Adirondack, NY, USA

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

naturist 0001 Adirondack, NY, USA

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

Tenant Creek Falls 0001 Adirondack, NY, USA

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

naturist 0005 Adirondack, NY, USA

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

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

butterflies 0000 Adirondack, NY, USAbutterflies 0001 Adirondack, NY, USA

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

coyote 0000 Adirondack, NY, USA

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

coyote 0001 Adirondack, NY, USA

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

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

naturist 0007 Adirondack, NY, USA

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

naturist 0002 Adirondack, NY, USA

We could swim in the pond below, however.

naturist 0006 Adirondack, NY, USA

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

mushrooms 0000 Adirondack, NY, USAmushrooms 0001 Adirondack, NY, USA

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

naturist 0010 Adirondack, NY, USA

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

naturist 0011 Adirondack, NY, USA

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

toad 0000 Adirondack, NY, USA

official(!) naked-friendly trail and water hole in Mohonk Preserve, NY

I haven’t counted exactly how much but a good share of our blogposts is about hiking. This one is special because it is about a trail that is officially designated for nude recreation! Yes, there is one (hope not the only one!) – at Split Rock in Mohonk Preserve, New York! I heard about it from Young Naturists America, as they organized a couple of outings there; you can also read about their correspondence with the park officials as to why there is no information about this trail on their website. The bottom line is that this is a private land, and one of the conditions of the owners to give it for public use was keeping its tradition of skinny-dipping. Well, if only more land-owners were like that!

Unfortunately, clothing is only optional behind the actual Split Rock formation (the name speaks for itself – it’s a split rock with a creek and small waterfall in the middle), and the nude-friendly trail is just about 10 min walk of easy hiking. I had a bitter-sweet feeling about this place. On the one hand, it was exciting to finally find an official place for naked hiking. On the other, it also seemed unfair to not include the main attraction in the clothing-optional part. Come on, if you decided to give ONE single trail of a huge preserve for nude recreation, can’t you give at least this one entirely?

naturist 0000 Mohonk Preserve, NY, USA

Nevertheless, I was happy to see this sign – I could get naked in the forest, ‘as nature intended’, without worrying about rangers. I finally got relaxed, after spending several hours to get there! Long story short: I was supposed to go  with two buddies by train to Poughkeepsie and then bike all the way to Mohonk Preserve, but I got a flat tire, and of course it was the only time when I didn’t have a spare tire with me; I didn’t want to keep my friends for too long with me and let them go ahead, but by the time I found someone with a spare tire it was almost too late to bike to Mohonk… Luckily, I got a ride almost all the way to Split Rock! However, my friends were already leaving by the time I got there, so as most other visitors.

naturist 0001 Mohonk Preserve, NY, USA

I could see only one [naked] figure wandering in the evening fog. I found another split rock water hole, much smaller than the first one though. The water was clear but pretty cold. I guess that’s why it’s called skinny dipping there.

naturist 0002 Mohonk Preserve, NY, USA

A bit later, the only other visitor came by and we started talking about this place. He was surprised to hear that I was going to return by bike and offered a ride to the town of New Paultz. I actually wanted to ride my bike, as I didn’t get to do it much that day. Then, as I was unlocking my bike at the parking lot, the ranger on duty also raised her concern as it was getting dark and the road didn’t have shoulders. When I saw a ver dark cloud coming and heard thunder, I finally gave up. Few minutes later, on the way to New Paultz, a sever downpour started! So it wasn’t a bad decision to drive to New Paultz and stay in a hostel there… Next day, I hitch-hiked back to Split Rock and when checked on my bike, found this big (I thought at the moment) garden spider under my seat!

garden spider 0000 Mohonk Preserve, NY, USA

The weather was quite good again, so I went to the creek once again. This time could sunbathe on the rocks, so refreshing in the water hole was more pleasant. Then I noticed something awesome on the bank of the creek:

wolf spider 0000 Mohonk Preserve, NY, USA

Now, that is a BIG spider! To be honest, I had no idea there were such huge ones in New York state (just look at the fir-tree cone next to it for comparison).

wolf spider 0001 Mohonk Preserve, NY, USA

Well, after posting this, I guess Split Rock won’t get any more popular… On the other hand, it’s not exactly the place that you want to get crowded, so it’s up to you if you want to face this monster! 😉

Another justification for writing about spiders now is that it’s Halloween! That’s my contribution here. I remember one of the readers wrote me he freaked out about the picture of harvestman (aka daddy longlegs) that I posted in my first story about Harriman State Park. Let’s see the reaction to these! It’s worth noting though, that while harvestmen are among the most poisonous animals out there, they are simply not able to bite a human. Unlike wolf spiders! (That’s the name of this beauty, if you haven’t guessed.) Apparently, nothing bad can happen if they do bite you, but it won’t be pleasant.

wolf spider 0002 Mohonk Preserve, NY, USA

I have to say some good words about wolf spiders though. They are actually caring mothers. The keep their their eggs in a special sac that they carry around everywhere with them; on the photo above you can even see how the sac is attached to her spinneret (silk-producing organ). And what’s even more remarkable, after hatching, little spiders stay on their mother for a week or so. Maybe I’ll see that next time.