The Trip Up: End of June 2014
I’m going to have to do this in three parts over three weeks. “The Trip Up”, “Rainbow Gathering”, and then the trip back down, “Home to Home.” Remember, you can click any image to bring better clarity and framing perspectives.
Tenacity and opportunism will see the day through…nude.
Up Saturday morning to take the familiar cruise to Phoenix. We on our way to Lake Powell region, Bryce, Zion, The Rainbow Gathering in the Utah Alpine region and any piece of Americana that we fancied that was in between.
On the north side we stopped to check out a Golite outlet store for ultralight backpacks that I had researched online. We needed to try them on in the flesh (So to speak, only). DF had spent many hours in the confines of stores like REI, journeying up stairs with weighted packs, looking for one that felt comfortable. Online, I found these without the frame… I’ll report more on the ultralight backpacking gear, later. Bottom-line, they worked out very well and we bought two that were fitted for our bodies.
We continued our naked journey, passing through Flagstaff and then out into the vast plateau of the Painted Desert and Vermilion Cliffs, to Page Arizona.
We had arranged for a commercial campsite, for a quick overnight. We slipped on clothing in the car and found our spot in the neighborhood of campers. We had never camped in such a place. It is kind of KOA. They gave us a something like a 15×20 sandbox with a tree and picnic table. There was a short concrete wall around it, separating each resident’s territory. The neighbors were friendly, a couple speaking probably German, but little English that smiled and waved. On the other side,was a grandma and grandpa with three grandkids, who had been there several days. I pitched the small four pound tent and we were set. We ate and watched the camping people in their various set ups, ranging from small tents to expensive motorhomes. Some had boats readying for trips out on Lake Powell, the next day.
We walked the grounds and stopped for a swim and jaccuzzi. It was very strange, even bizarre, wearing even the light boxer-like shorts and DF in her swim suit in a jaccuzzi, something that I don’t recall ever experiencing.
The next day, I was out walking around getting to know my new toy (the backpack) and spoke to a couple dressed in dreadlocks and strange clothing. They had been asking about vegetarian restaurants in Page, as we had been checking in, the previous day. I mentioned sciatica associated pain and hiking. I went back to our picnic table, climbed aboard onto a blanket and began to do stretches and yoga to alleviate some of what ailed me. He came by with oil and offered to help out. He was a masseuse, alternative healer from L.A. DF explained that we do healing work, too. We were on. A deep painful leg massage later and I knew relief. He left after we did a short procedure to him in return. Then in minutes, he returned with incense and special oils. We thanked him for is generosity. A few minutes later he came back. He is into the local Native American culture and had been gathering sage near there on the reservation. He had been up all night (during the new moon when most auspicious) wrapping up the fresh herb. He claimed to have had only three hours of sleep. He offered us some of that. It was wonderful stuff, and just right for a spiritual gathering like we were heading to. Nice things come out of nowhere on the road.
Breaking camp the next morning, we waited for a 4×4 to pick us up and take us on a tour. We were heading out to nearby Antelope Canyon, for a couple of hours. They took us to their offices first. A sign on the door gave notice, “No Nude Photos on tour.” WE had to laugh, rolling our eyes.
The visit was incredible. It was a structure of sandstone carved through by flashfloods into a twisted quarter mile of a tunnel-like cavern with skylight.
It is around, guesstimating, an average of twelve feet wide. This is famous place…well, check out the pictures. Have you seen something like these?
Its sand floor was covered beginning to end with tourists, mostly Japanese and Chinese, and European languages.
I think that there were maybe five Americans in the crowd. A couple of times, I was able to find a glimpse of what it might be like alone in there.
It could be quite a spiritual experience alone in this wonderment, but this was not possible.
Having been set back at the campground, we moved on about noon and soon came upon the vista of Lake Powell.
DF had never seen it and I wanted her to have an experience of its awe inspiring vastness. I also wanted to reinforce and visualize a weeklong nude houseboat cruise there. That is being planned for next year. We sat on a hill under a ramada, eating lunch and talking to a couple of park rangers.
The waters were at an all-time height back in the eighties. That’s when I used to spend weeks out on my boat there. Many places where I would cruise are gone. A huge island is now at the tip of a peninsula and a channel was dredged to pass into the lake. It was a dramatic difference. None the less, the mission was accomplished, DF is inspired.
Getting down the road, we stopped for a cool drink just inside the Utah border, got back into the car and defiantly undressed to drive on. Utah is a state dominated by a conservative church and the hard working settler’s descendants still dominate and populate the rural areas. Much of my perceived impressions of Utah came from creepy little towns in northern Arizona, that make one feel like a truly unwelcome and negatively judged outsider. There was some of that, but I was pleased to find a less ridged and friendly element to the population, also. I always felt that extra threat of intolerance of difference, especially my nude self, but then continually enjoyed a surprise, when I found a lack of it.
The first knockdown to my negativity and fears was the practical speed limits, all pleasantly more that my State of Arizona. The interstate limit was 80mph and many roads as much as ten mph more than other states. We stopped to eat and check tires. I sat with the car door open, pulling my pants up to get out, when I saw a large sign by a restaurant. A skimpily dressed woman was holding a “HO-made” pie! “Get outta here, this is rural Utah?” I thought to myself.
It was swarmed by tourists.
Zion National Park
We the traveled down the road into Zion National Park. Much jaw dropping awe is to be found there.
Everywhere, we found colorful canyon cliffs hundreds of feet high, strange formations, all indescribable.
I had located a spot that was mentioned as unlisted and less traveled to camp at. It was with a waterfall, but first we wanted to see the rest of the amazing canyon park.
It was crowded, so much so, that the only access to most of it is on a bus shuttle.
It felt like central park, NYC. There we sat on a bus with people everywhere, even standing holding straps. Instead of sky scrapers and their shadows, the walls were natural.
I began to feel more need for elbow room, the constant buzz of masses of people and clothing was getting to my nerves. I felt that I wanted to feel the air and hear this place.
Camping in Zion
We finished our exploration and drove back to the parking lot where we hoped to get some privacy to camp and enjoy water. There was another car there. Instead of seven cars there was but one. The daylight savings time had given us an extra hour and the sun doesn’t set until after 9:00pm. This makes a long afternoon and although daylight, most visitors had left. A nice young couple from Cedar City was coming out to drive home. They claimed the last car, as we began to walk in. I asked and they confirmed what we wanted to hear. I had on my boxer-like tan through swimsuit and had strapped on my new pack. We continued into our short hike to a small waterfall, DF dropping her top and me getting ready for a proper experience of nature.
Then, I thought that I heard voices. MORE people, a family was behind us and coming up fast. We spoke with them, everyone was friendly, but we wanted privacy and we would have to wait a bit longer for that. As I stood talking to the thirty-something father, he kept glancing down at my crotch. I couldn’t understand why, but later figured out that my shorts may have appeared to look like underwear to him. Oh my, scandal! We decided that it was too dangerous to climb back over the huge rocks to get to the falls with the packs. There hadn’t been rain in a while and people everywhere had placed slippery sand on every surface.
There was however, water and soft fine sand. I overcame the sense of irritation and disappointment and found a spot off of the main trail, next to the stream.
As the frustration subsided, it became more magical.
Getting less dressed and then more so, we went about setting up our camp.
We were surrounded by those colorful canyon walls and in trees, by water, with a good meal, sitting on a large flat rock. DF cooked, while I brushed off a sandbar between two rocks and laid down tarp and bivy bags, etc. This was DF’s first evening sleeping out in the open in a bivy.
We watched the sliver of amazing amounts of stars through the canyon walls, listening to the creek. The ledge wall above us had water dripping down and seeping out of the rock.
Occasionally, I felt a drop splash onto me.
As the sun arose, we awoke greeted by paradise.
The sun began by giving a golden glow to the rock faces hundreds of feet above and then crept downward, as we lay in our cozy bags, watching.
It had been rather warmer than expected.
We found that the gas for heating water for morning oatmeal had drained in the night. We decided to drive back to the junction for Ho-made breakfast.
As we enjoyed our nudity and began to pack up, and still pretty early, two men came by, near us, instead of on the trail. I was ready to leave Zion. I had had enough of interrupted naturism.
Still. Leaving was not without charm.
There is a long tunnel through one of the mountains that was made in the nineteen-thirties during the Great Depression. It was a part of the infrastructure work which hired the unemployed. It is thin and often, only one way. As we waited to go through, I spoke with the forest ranger who sat while he directed the traffic. I asked about a road into the park on the other side of the local town of Springdale, that I saw on their map. He told me that there would be fewer people there, acknowledging my comment about the Central Park feeling. I later found an advertisement for 4X4 tours into that area. There must be places to camp, liberate for nudity and hike there. Perhaps another time.
Bryce National Park
The plan had been to visit Bryce Canyon, and then camp in the forest. We would then continue driving on a scenic route to a small town motel nearer to the Rainbow Gathering location. We wanted to drive in to the festivities early on the next day. We had breakfast in this wonderful small dinner at the Mt. Carmel Junction across from the Ho-made touristy place. Everything was homemade and huge and fresh. I told them that they should bottle the local water. We listened to the waitress tell us about her native American and Irish roots, and how the grand-kids were embarrassed when grandma came to visit and set up her teepee in the front yard. Not everyone is a descendant from the dominate culture.
She also told us how quickly the road could take us to our destinations. We realized that we didn’t need to camp and could arrive at the gathering a day early.
We didn’t undo our belts from around our full bellies, as we sat down in the car. We removed everything and relaxed even better.
We drove onto Bryce National Park. There, I gathered my shorts up my legs and stepped out into another mass of tourists.
The hoodoos were incredible, as we stopped at each of the overlooks.
The hoodoos were diverse, colorful and numerous.
There was an exceptional since of depth and wonderment.
We took a short hike down into the bowl, but didn’t take an extended trip down deep.
A Nude Hike Anyone?
There are crowds of people everywhere, even down in the canyon on hikes, leaving no room for free range naturism and solitude. Before entering Bryce Canyon there is a stretch of wonderful bright red formations and hoodoos on the north side of the road.
It is possible to hike back into this area utilizing the washes nude. It’s not as spectacular, but a very fun and private.
The masses always head for the bigger bang and change its experience. The experience of terrain is similar to the depths of the main canyon AND without the serious climb back out.
There was some apparent altitude sickness. This worked out perfectly, however. Without the extended hike 320 feet below into the hoodoos, I was able to get away from the crowds sooner and we arrived at the motel right at sundown.
The sun had illuminated the very entertaining and scenic carnuding trip, all of the way.
Next week, spirit, peace and anarchy held together by our humanity at a National Rainbow Gathering.