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.

World Naked Bike Ride, NYC edition 2013, is on Saturday, 8 June!

World Naked Bike Ride is coming to New York City again, on Saturday, the 8th of June, together with many other cities around northern hemisphere. I’ll repeat again, that it is a worldwide demonstration promoting cycling as an urban mode of transportation, as well as body acceptance. Riding naked is symbolic and effective way to draw attention to vulnerability of people against the traffic and pollution, and it also shows that being nude is not lewd. Please refer to my previous post why I think we really need this demonstration to be seen and heard in New York City particularly.

Even if you don’t consider yourself an environmental activist or are not sure about public nudity, consider another great aspect of WNBR – fun! I’ve participated in this event in Madrid and New York, as well as at Burning Man last year, and it’s always great fun!

Refer to the official wiki-page of WNBR-NYC and Facebook page for details.

Can New York make it as big as London? or at least Madrid?

World Naked Bike Ride – London – Big Ben

WNBR – London – Piccadilly Circus

Something is missing here!

Times Square – no WNBR?

hurricane flashback

In anticipation of the Frankenstorm, I can’t help recalling last year experience right before arrival of the hurricane Irene to New York City. A friend of mine got a reckless idea of running in the storm. Well, not that reckless, the storm was still a few hours away from the city, and it was a classic calm before the storm. The night was just more humid usual, but there was no wind. And I have never seen the streets of Manhattan so quiet and empty. We headed out to Riverside Park and it started pouring, but still there was no sign of wind.

Our only encounter in the park was a totally wet skunk that was running hastily away from the Hudson River.

Guess what we thought next. That seemed like a unique opportunity to jog in one of New York’s major parks naked, and we didn’t miss the chance!

We ran in the rain up to George Washington Bridge.

It felt fantastic, as if the city was just ours and nothing could stop us… But of course, we had to stop and go back. The storm never really hit Manhattan severely, but we wouldn’t know beforehand. So, luckily, our naked run remained the brightest memory from the hurricane Irene. Who knows what Sandy brings us this time. It is expected to be much longer (up to 36 hours, as opposed to 6 hours of Irene), and it’s definitely not going to be warm, especially if the tropical hurricane does merge with the wintry storm. Also, combination with full moon increases the chance of particularly strong surges, so we should stay away from the river…

Be safe and take care!

wild stuff in Harriman Park, NY

This post will summarize some of our experiences in Harriman State Park, a beautiful woodland just 1-1.5h away from Manhattan (driving or by train + bike).

There are scenic views, numerous lakes, and plenty of wildlife. It is nothing but stunning to have that land of [nearly] unspoiled nature so close to the biggest urban area in US… This fact is only evident by the view from Bear Mountain.

By the way, the name was not given to this mountain in vain – yes, there are bears in the park, and we have even seen one! I have to admit this is not the best photo of a bear – unfortunately it was not close enough to make a good shot, but I just had to add it here as a proof.

Other animals, like the Canada geese on the photos below, might be less unusual for an urban dweller but also appear less menacing.

But before I go on with the list of animals we have seen there, here is a bush that every year turns those woods into a truly fabulous place for about two weeks early June. It is mountain laurel.

In places where mountain laurel is concentrated, e.g. at the Lake Skannatati, its white-to-pink blossom is outstanding.

In the height of its bloom, the woods look more like Garden of Eden than just a wild forest. Of course, you’d feel like wearing nothing but Adam’s (or Eve’s) suit there.

… which provides plenty of opportunities for nice photos. Just wandering around there feels special.

But don’t think it would be the only type of flowers you’ll see there.

Lily Pond is rightfully called so because it is almost entirely covered with water lilies!

Other lakes, on contrary, have totally open surface and clear water, like Second Reservoir

or Silver Mine Lake, for example.

And there are many more lakes.

It is warm enough for swimming from May to October.

If you’re not up for swimming, you can just walk on water.

Seriously! Well, it is just that many of those lakes are reservoirs with dams. It is like those infinity pools but in a natural setting.

Main activity in Harriman Park is hiking, but some trails are good for biking too.

I’d recommend wearing a helmet though.

But of course, it is hard to resist temptation to relax in such a tranquil place… especially when you have a hammock with you.

And especially after some nice food.

By the way, there are some wild fruits there too, like grapes

and blueberries, but better leave those for animals.

And if you bring food with you, make sure not to leave any garbage, it is really disappointing to find any in such a pristine place.

But even if you don’t have a hammock, sitting by the lake will make you forget about all daily troubles.

 

There are also some springs and falls connecting the lakes and reservoirs.

 

After all that chilling, it is definitely worth going for a walk again, and don’t forget your camera for there will be a plenty of opportunities to shoot photograph animals.

There are many colorful insects.

Dragonflies are the easiest to spot, and some come right to you or even on you 😉

Other arthropods that drew our attention were these huge centipede and harvestman.

Recently, we’ve seen this juvenile eastern newt (eft), that had amazingly bright orange skin (they loose the color when they go back to water and mature).

Common Garter snakes are common there indeed (and do not pose any threat).

As in any healthy forest, there is plenty of birds; we’ve even seen some nests with nestlings.

Some of the most common bigger birds are turkey vultures and herons.

The latter probably feast on fish like this school of young catfish.

Most likely you will see some species of sunfish family. There were many nests of theirs at Silver Mine Lake, and it was interesting to see how protective they were around them.

At Lake Skannatati, they could easily hide among water plants but they preferred not to,  perhaps they were even attracted to my underwater camera.

After I mentioned bears, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are some more common mammals, like hares,

raccoons (even though you can see them in Central Park too, it is somehow nicer to see them not feeding off a trash bin),

chipmunks,

and of course deer (white-tailed deer, to be exact).

Seeing a horned stag among all that blossom will make you feel like in a fairy-tale.

As Christian says, you may get to see unicorns coming out of those bushes any moment.

World Naked Bike Ride is next Saturday. We need it in NYC!

Finally, the New York City part of the World Naked Bike Ride is set up for running riding, and even in two parts!

It will take place on the 9th of June, next Saturday, together with most of the Northern Hemisphere cities participating in WNBR. As I wrote earlier, we do need this event in New York, there is a lot of room for improvement in terms of body freedom and biking, and with claims of being the capital of the world, this city should set an example in these issues.

Please take part if you can, and spread the word! Refer to the official WNBR NYC wiki page and WNBR NYC press release for details.

World Naked Bike Ride is in one month. We need it in NYC!

World Naked Bike Ride is a worldwide demonstration promoting cycling as an urban mode of transportation, as well as body acceptance. Riding naked is symbolic and effective way to draw attention to vulnerability of people against the traffic and pollution, and it also shows that being nude is not lewd. That is why we need WNBR so much in New York City, as well as probably any other big city, perhaps with the exception of Berlin, where you can ride your bike wherever you like, and you can be naked even in Tiergarten, Berlin’s equivalent of Central Park. There has a been a stunning improvement in making New York a bike-friendly city, but still, there is no cross-town bike lane in the entire Midtown Manhattan from the 20th to the 90th street, for example. Also, even though it is legal for women to be top-free in public in New York, Felicity from Young Naturists America was arrested for walking topless during an art performance on Wall Street!

This video that went viral a while ago, pretty much summarizes just some of the daily troubles of cyclists in New York City.

WNBR in New York was a big success in 2010.

It gained more momentum as a protest against oil-dependence – it was a year of bp oil spill – and the naked demonstrators did not miss a chance to stop by a bp gas station.

But last year, we did have some issues. First, we had unusually cold and foggy weather on the day of the ride, even though during the week the weather was fine. So the ride was postponed and we only had a after-party-turned-promoparty, which was actually fun.

Then when we had the second date set, there was too much police presence and no one dared to go totally naked for most of the ride.

I opted for a minimalistic jockstrap, as well as many others, and some body paint (it said ‘Green light to bikes’ on my back). I also had a tree fixed in my bike bag, as a symbol of Green.

That cherry bike painted on the back of one of my ride mates was my creation inspired by the logo of Pacha, my favorite dance club in New York. Actually, when I go out there, I do come on my bike 😉

We rode through most of Downtown and Midtown Manhattan,

and made a brief stop at Union Square for some dancing.

Only in the end, when police stopped following us, some finally disrobed totally on Williamsburg Bridge

and arrived to the after-party in Williamsburg just like that 😎

The after-party was at a bike shop, a perfect setting! I was spinning some upbeat electronica in the backyard.

I hope this year we’ll manage to cooperate with police more thoroughly, just like it was at the WNBR in Madrid when I was there in 2009, or as it happens regularly in London, which traditionally gathers the biggest number of naked riders. By the way, I wonder how WNBR will go in London this time, in the summer of the Olympics. But in any case, we need to organize the naked ride in New York, what kind of World Naked Bike Ride will it be without New York City partaking? And so far there is no certain information about WNBR NYC even regarding the date :-/

PS Photos #3 and #5 courtesy of Sheryl.

Как раскрутить подружку на нудизм

Прошлым летом я открыл для себя ещё один нудистский пляж недалеко от Нью-Йорка –  Jones Beach. Чтобы добраться до части пляжа, где вроде как никто не падает в обморок (и главное не зовёт полицию!) при виде неприкрытых тел, приходиться идти как минимум минут 15 от автобусной остановки/парковки; но это всё-таки прогулка по пляжу, так что не так плохо, и в целом туда довольно легко и дёшево добраться из Манхеттена. Так что я пригласил туда свою подругу Наташу из Москвы порадоваться прибою без толпы… и без одежды 😉

Поначалу Наташа как-то робела и йогой занималась в своём прекрасном сарафане, но я всё же решил её уговорить и от него избавиться. Зачем скрывать свою красоту?  Вот думали это синее зелье (извиняюсь за каламбур) её осмелеет…

Но что-то не помогло!

Так что пришлось её хорошенько раскрутить,

и после пары переворотов от Наташкиного стыда не осталось и следа 😉

Она не только расхрабрилась и обнажилась,

но и пошла прыгать в волнах, а они были довольно сильные.

Но от этого веселья не убавилось, скорее наоборот!

Надеюсь, Наташа и дальше будет “нудиствовать”, а не нудить на пляже =)

How to turn your friend into a nudist + Moving naturally at Jones Beach, NY

Last summer I discovered yet another naked beach not far from New York City: a remote part to the east of Jones Beach. It’s a long (at least 15 min) walk from the main part/bus stop/parking, but given that it’s a walk at the beach, you can just as well enjoy this part of the deal. It’s much closer and easier to get to by public transport than the Lighthouse beach and is almost twice cheaper than the ferry to Sandy Hook, two official nudist beaches in NYC area. So I went there quite often and brought some of my friends visiting during summer. Most of that remote part of Jones beach is rather empty, except for a short stretch that gets busy on the weekends.

Natasha was eager to try her yoga poses at the beach, but for some reason she wasn’t ready to get rid of her clothes, although the idea of naturism is not foreign to her. I thought she just needed some booze boost.

Well, that menacingly blue concoction that we bought at the bar at the main part of Jones beach was non-alcoholic (and maybe that was why it failed to work).

The next step was to turn her upside down,

and after a couple of such twists, she turned into a nudist 😉

Not only did she let off her inhibitions,

she also braved the waves, that were quite rough on that day!

There was a couple of unexpected boomers, but it was part of the fun.

Since that remote part of Jones Beach is relatively empty, it’s perfect for jogging.

Once I brought there my new acquaintance Pétur, who is an instructor of MovNat in Iceland. MovNat (abbreviation of ‘moving naturally) is a system of movement skills that is based on natural patterns (taking into account our development – how toddlers start moving, evolution and comparative biology – how other animals move, etc.) as opposed to many modern running and fitness techniques that use artificial patterns (e.g., ‘hi tech’ shoes, all kinds of crazy gym equipment). Their logo is ‘Explore your true nature’, so needless to say, the first time I heard about it, I thought it should be done without clothes.

And there I was, learning to ‘run naturally’ at the Jones Beach. I’m definitely planning to explore more of MovNat in the future.