Friday, August 8, 2014

80. Hike Naked Day

Let me just answer the most important questions immediately: Yes, there are photographs of when we did Hike Naked Day last year. No, they will never be put on the internet. Maybe, one day if you're sitting on the front porch of my tiny house and we're drinking tea, I can dig out those photos and show you just exactly how hilariously nightmarish a naked body looks when it is strapped into a 40 pound backpack. But until then, you'll just have to content yourself with knowing that no matter what someone looks like with clothing on, if you get them naked and make them wear something that wraps around their waist and supports the weight of four bowling balls, they will look like a melting candle. There's something very communal and beautiful about that, I think. Inside of all of us is a weirdly shaped person just waiting to waddle down a trail in Pennsylvania somewhere, feeling justifiably worried about chaffing.

Hike Naked Day is celebrated on the Appalachian Trail on the Summer Solstice every year. If you have small children and you aren't keen on having them ask awkward questions, I would recommend that you avoid any stretch of trail between Georgia and Maine, anytime in late June. We're only supposed to hike naked on that one day, but who knows how dedicated some hikers might choose to be. Hike Naked Day is exactly what it sounds like. Put your socks and your boots on, put everything else in your pack, and head off down the trail. Depending on what stretch of trail you are going down, I also highly recommend sunscreen. If you've never experienced a sunburned bosom or buttocks, I pray that you will never have to know the pain of learning that lesson firsthand.

Grim, Whistle, Dumptruck and I celebrated Hike Naked Day, but we didn't fully commit. We were naked for the first part of our hike, but we were trying to hike 15 miles that day. It wasn't for any level of embarrassment or shame that we put our clothes back on, but for the honest to god horror of potential chaffing. My lower back/upper butt was starting to feel raw and awful from the lumbar support on my pack after only a few minutes of hiking with no layer of protection between my pack and my wimpy european skin. In the spirit of full disclosure, I will also admit that we were hiking a section that contained a lot of road walking in neighborhoods and over highways, and I wasn't terribly keen on being arrested wearing nothing but hiking boots. Therefore, the chaffing was a good excuse to avoid a censored mugshot.

But we were planning to, at the very least, end our day in full Hike Naked Day glory, by striding down the 0.2 mile side trail to Darlington Shelter in our birthday suits. When we arrived we were greeting by whoops, hollers and cries of delight from fellow thru-hikers. One woman, Little Sass, was overcome with joy, expressing that she had been hoping that she would see at least one of the class of 2013 honoring Hike Naked Day, but that she had been unlucky until we arrived.

We also completely scandalized a weekend hiker who was clearly not expecting something like this to happen to him on his peaceful solo wilderness overnight. He wasn't mad per se, he just had a lot of difficulty making eye contact with Grim or Dumptruck after we'd all re-clothed ourselves. When he headed out into the woods he was probably expecting to see wild animals, but got a little more than he had bargained for.

A fellow hiker named Invisible Man, from Australia, fully committed to Hike Naked Day for the entire day, but he wore a small Australian Flag as a loincloth. If that's not national pride, then I don't know what is.

Clever Girl

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