Hello everybody. Last week was a most interesting one for me. A close freehiking friend of mine is also a member of a hiking and mountain biking club comprised of a group of close friends in his home town in Connecticut. I have had the pleasure and honor of being invited along to the this group's high point adventure weekends each of these past two summers. Last year in the White Mountains of New Hampshire (USA)including a day hike up Mount Washington through Tuckerman's Ravine. This year the past week, an off season rental of a ski house in Waldsboro Vermont. The program of activity and the tone of the four days spent there were on the same model as our ANANEC weeklong adventure that I described here a month ago. Much like NEWT for that matter perhaps, only textile.
This coincidence gave me a unique opportunity to experience how the other side does these things. My principle observation from both of these long weekends is that when you get a great group of easy going generally open minded folks together enjoying vigorous activity by day and great food at night, everyone is bound to enjoy the experience. Through each of these two getaways, I generally deferred to my friend's request and better judgement and kept my loins wrapped in some scrap of cloth for most of the time. Sport Kilts at mealtimes, and nothing more than a skimpy scrap of cloth bound at my waist by velcro when hiking, kayaking, driving, and lounging about the house. I seldom bothered with a top. They all immediately embraced my unorthodox presence, tattoos and all, and accepted me as one of the group with no apparent second thoughts or pretense. However nudity in most any context was off these folks radar, more specifically beyond comprehension. People become very comfortable doing what they have been doing since toddlerhood and never stop to consider their reasons for doing so. This plays squarely into why they wear clothes and would never dream of not doing so. They assume that kids exposed to nudity will be troubled without ever thinking about why they might hold this opinion. Thus change if it is to happen will come very slowly and with much patience demonstrated by both camps. Even so, these great folks witnessed levels of casual nudity and near nudity these weeks that they may never have dreamed of accepting into their lives prior to spending time with me. They have probably guessed by now, that I and my friend are both nudists in their midst, and will now not reject either of us on that count.
I kayaked with them in a naked state and swam nude in their presence, discretely slipping into the water out of their sight and joining them once in the water. We seem to have established an unspoken etiquette between us that it is OK for me to be naked among them as long as they are not seeing it unless trying to do so. One of their number even joined my friend and I, deciding upon the spot on one occasion to strip totally and swim with us in a great mountain water fall that we discovered. All of this stealth nudity naturally lead to genuine and constructive discussion between us over our evening cocktails, started by the one who skinny dipped with us and joined enthusiastically by the others. We kept coming back to the irrationality of human behavior, thus many issues surrounding nudity and society's clothing habit were touched upon in this manner. Of course, many other day to day things were also discussed, careers, retirement, the stock market, matters of science and discovery, sports, etc. No opinions were changed, but minds were opened. Who knows, I may see some converts in the future though probably not for another twenty years or so. Mind you, the youngest in this group is just into his sixties. In any case, when one is in the real world of textiles and not preaching to the choir as one does easily here on the Naktiv site, ones time frame for expectation of change stretches infinitely towards the horizon of time. Patience becomes ones treasured companion. I found the experience to be very stimulating, and refreshing.
On a lighter note, something out of the mouths of babes(in the woods). After the others packed up and headed home on Saturday, I turned and headed up into the hills to freehike a short section of the long trail for the rest of the day. I covered about eight miles in total, never bothering with clothes, and cherishing my new found solitude. Freehiking solo is a must do experience for me that I have not been able to enjoy for quite some time, so I was over due after my time with my textile friends. This solo unencumbered trek couldn't have come at a better time, except…..it is the peak of the Appalachian Trail through-hikers season for this part of the trail. Heading southbound, I encountered no less than a dozen northbound through-hikers, along with a few day hikers. The serious hikers as is usually the case took my presence on the trail in stride, stopping in many cases to chat for a moment. Early on during my hike, three kids (20s in age) with day packs encountered me. After passing, one of them turned and called back to me in a most innocent manner, "why aren't you wearing any clothes?" Struck by the lack of any sarcasm, disgust, or alarm in his tone of voice, I answered quite as simply, "because it is a hot day". He thought for a moment and responded back to me "well that's logical, weird….but logical!" Then they wished me a nice hike and then carried on.
PS. I came away from this immersion with textiles with no clearer understanding of the concept of bathing suits, hiking shorts, tee shirts, or PJs then when I started out. What are these things, and how do they fit into a sensible modern world? Fortunately, none of these items have had to make it into my pack for any of these extended experiences with my various friends.