Siskiyou Hiking Bares
Siskiyou Hiking Bares is modeled after the traditional Naturist hiking groups of Germany, known as Nacktwandern. These groups started informally in the early 1900’s as Wandervogel groups (Wandering Birds). Organized as coed hikes and rambles through the countryside, often nude, but always clothing-optional as a way of getting closer to nature and rejecting what was seen as an increasingly unhealthy lifestyle in the crowded and polluted cities of the time. This eventually led to regional and national organizations promoting healthy outdoor nude activity, such as the Freikorperkultur (FKK) movement in Germany and the Naturist / Nudist movement elsewhere.
This Nacktwandern (Naked Hiking Movement) has reached our shores and has been spreading quickly. In the Meetup web platform there are 17 groups with 4,276 members associated with nude hiking. Our little group, Siskiyou Hiking Bares in Oregon now has close to 300 interested followers on the Meetup website and about two dozen that have actually participated in our nude hikes.
Hiking Oregon Naturally Annual Tour
The Hiking Oregon Naturally Annual Tour known as HONAT, began as an idea to replicate the Nude European Walking Tour (NEWT) that my wife and I participated in during the summer of 2016. In that event a group of Naturist hikers from all over Europe shared expenses and accommodations for a week of hiking au naturel in the high country of Austria. We got to see how the event was managed in Europe and have now introduced it here in the U.S. for the last two summers.
Hike Location Criteria
I wanted to give hikers a chance to hike with others nude and find them beautiful locations that would qualify for a bucket list. The hikes need to be within a reasonable travel distance from our accommodations, approximately 35-40 minutes driving time. Each hike needs to have a destination such as a lake or peak or other notable landmark like a waterfall. We like them to have an adventure element, but not be so arduous that many could not finish it. The trail also needs to be sparsely used during the week when we hike. Finding a beautiful hike that meets all these criteria is not an easy task. In the last two summers we have hiked to a river narrows, a waterfall, several peaks, a hot springs, and some great river walks.
Compromises are sometimes made on access (increasing time to travel to the trail head), how busy the trail is, (we run into more threads) and the wow factor (sometimes there just isn’t any great overlook to turn around at). Close to a metro area is almost impossible. We have found an almost universal acceptance of our nude group hiking, simply avoiding the busiest trails and times to hike.
The first year of the HONAT, my wife and I spent a week in the hiking area a month prior to the HONAT, to check out the trails and trail heads in the area for suitability. Unless one is very familiar with a proposed hiking area, this is a must. Trails get closed, roads may be impassible or the trail head is just too far away to be practical for a group hike. Hike on similar days of the week to get a feel for hiker traffic and road delays.
Our hikes varied in round trip distance from 5 mile river hikes to a 10.2 mile climb and return. Due to the wide range of hiking ability, we eventually split the group into beginners and more experienced hikers. Anyone also had the option to sit out the day enjoying the pool at Squaw Mountain Ranch Nudist Resort and not do the hike.
The day would begin with an overview at breakfast of the hike to be done that day. Car pooling was organized and drivers were given destination names and directions as needed. I would try to plan the hike of the day so we had a turn around location for lunch, and possibly a meeting location where both hiking groups could connect again.
Weather controls the time available to nude hiking, and in some locations can practically eliminate it for all but the most hardy. When we hiked in Austria, we had not realized that the Summer European weather comes from the south, running up against the Austrian Alps and dropping it’s rain on the south side of the range. All the experienced hikers came with umbrellas! Here in Oregon, we are lucky to have a summer almost devoid of rain, but that also leads to fire events later in the summer that can interfere with plans. Generally we can hike nude here in southern Oregon from late June to early October. So we generally plan our annual nude 5 days of hiking for the month of July, and this year it coincides with National Nude Recreation Week, July 8-12. We find hiking during the week works best for access to good trails without the busy weekend hiking traffic.
We Are Careful Publishing Details
We are careful not to divulge the exact hikes we would be doing on which days, and we still had a party crasher that showed up at the trail head. To keep this to a minimum, good communications with everyone involved is a must. Keep your intentions to limit participants to only those registered clear and unambiguous.
We are still looking for the perfect venue, where we can be nude when not on the trail, is close to good hiking, and not too difficult to access. Most of the cabins we found that could accommodate a group of 10- 14 hikers were close to other cabins or small town centers. Resorts that could accommodate us were generally not close to good hiking, being situated within commuting distance from a metro area.
In two previous summers we have used a nudist resort for our base accommodations, but found the location a difficult compromise to find enough good hikes within a reasonable travel distance. We have found some beautiful venues around hot springs that would be ideal, but the cost for a week there is steeper than some would like. The perfect location would be a remote lodge with a cook to prepare meals for us in the heart of alpine hiking country. We are still looking. This year we will rent a house with several bedrooms at the top of the Cascades in southern Oregon, sharing meal preparation as was done in Europe.
Safety and Coordination
With significant differences in hiking ability, there will be at least two groups of different hiking speed and stamina, so they inevitably separate on the trail. To coordinate the hike, there must be some means of communication between groups. My wife and I are both ham radio operators and use hand held 5 watt radios to communicate. Generally, this allows communications of at least a couple of miles between groups, unless hilly terrain interferes. GMRS radios can do the same distance and can be had reasonably with a 10 year government license that’s also reasonable. Also, new devices that turn your cell phone into an independent mesh network node, that allows phone to phone connection without cell coverage (like Sonnet) are beginning to hit the market. Also have someone in the group carrying a first aid kit that knows how to use it. When working with a group, safety is a prime concern. We have had no injuries on our treks, but they do happen occasionally, and one needs to be prepared.
Qualifying Candidates for the HONAT
It needs to be made clear at the outset of the planning that participants need to have the physical ability to hike X miles and do that repeatedly, for 5 consecutive days. If a participant has a limitation, such as diabetes, it needs to be divulged to the organizer. A waiver is signed that should detail any physical problems that could limit the hiker’s ability to finish the hikes. People will want to participate in this event, even when they know they are not physically fit enough. One incapacitated hiker becomes everyone’s problem, and can drastically alter the outcome of the event.
We have had many encounters with clothed hikers and most are totally OK with our nudity, sometimes striking up a conversation past the usual pleasant greeting. Especially with a large group of nude hikers, there is power in numbers, and we generally only get smiles and greetings. Only a few have turned their heads away as we pass, with most neutral to our passing, and some eager to find out what free hiking is all about.
One of the most remembered encounters on the trail happened when we were clothed. My wife and I were hiking back from a long, strenuous trek in the nude and were almost back to the trail head when we heard music and laughter. Thinking there might be a family and children present we decided to dress. As we got close enough to see the parked cars, the music seemed to be coming from a pickup truck and a young couple was dancing nude in the bed of the truck. We immediately felt over dressed! We quickly announced that their nudity was of no consequence as we had just done the hike to Grayback Mountain sans clothes, showing them photos to prove it. The summit photo we showed them is the one on the top of this webpage and on our Meetup site.
Is Nude Hiking Legal?
So how legal is nude hiking in the back country? It depends entirely on your state of residence and how laws on nudity are enforced. Most of the west coast has a very liberal attitude towards nudity in national forests and BLM land. The BLM states that there should be no nudity at developed campsites and trail heads, but is hands off elsewhere they have jurisdiction. National forest service varies from region to region, but if one stays on infrequently used trails, it’s generally acceptable, if not legal. State forests in Oregon also permit nude hiking, but this is not true in many other states, where you might be sited for indecent exposure, even without a complaint.
The nude beach concept has spread slowly and is finding acceptance as a legitimate alternative beach use. I see nude hiking making similar inroads as it gains acceptance in one state after another.
In the mean time, come to Oregon and hike with us during the Hiking Oregon Naturally Annual Tour 2019. It will be a trip to remember. Check our group on: www.meetup.com/Siskiyou-Hiking-Bares/
Kahlil Gibran said it perfectly in his book of prose called The Prophet. A weaver asks the prophet to speak of clothes, and he says: