The Bradshaw Mountains
On Our Way:
I have been conversing almost daily with some free range naturists on the internet for more than a decade. I have only met a couple out of the clan. There are three of us regulars, who live in this region of the United States, Duane, Ken and myself. DF and I met them in the flesh for the first time on a trip to the Bradshaw Mountains near Prescott, Arizona. We had the first regional get together, joined also by Ken’s wife Amie.
We left Friday afternoon, heading north. The sunset was magnificent.
We avoided most of the Phoenix rush hour. As we carnuded through the urban sprawl, night fell completely, diminishing any chance of discovery of others on the road next to us. Heading up away from the valley and desert floor, the stars became more frequent and the traffic eased into the flow of the soft bends of the mountain highway.
As a note, this article will be peppered heavily with photos. Please, remember that you can click any pic and it will become larger and clearer.
We stopped at a familiar rest stop for necessary business. I was not particularly pleased to have to squirm around placing my camouflage kilt around my body. I finally just used the door to block views for my privacy, stood and readjust it. I donned a long sleeve t-shirt as well. As I walked past two fellow travelers, both female, whose car was parked next to us, behind my back I heard, “What in the Hell is that?” I made no derogatory comments. I thought of a couple of retorts, but I had my mission with no time for distractions. I assumed that I wasn’t supposed to hear the comment, and my fashion sense wasn’t really the finest as per usual. As a nudist, my predilection isn’t to defend clothing, anyway.
I returned to the 4runner and disrobed, shirt back in the bag, and kilt next to me as an armrest.
Turning off of the main road as we entered Prescott, we made our way out into the forest. The tall pines surrounded a narrow winding road, with a constant glowing ribbon of double yellow line indicating the danger of passing . There, we diligently squinted to find a dirt ill-marked turnoff after an intersection that I only knew from a daytime satellite image provided by google. Second spot on the left hand side, we found another 4runner and a welcoming fire created by Duane.
I jumped out of the truck to embrace this new face on an old friend. The cold in the air embraced my nude body before I reached him. DF behind me was slipping on a warm top as she exited. This first gathering as free range naturists would start with some degree of brevity. My kilt, a chance to tryout the winter down jacket that I had gotten on sale the previous spring and next to a fire, abruptly made sense. DF had a long fleece cloak to wrap her body in as we set up folding chairs. The fire was wonderful.
We acquainted ourselves with each other, getting used to the person known well, but only in print, that was now speaking in real-time. The pitch of voice, accents, mannerisms, the face, were all new to each other. We soon bonded, and slipped into a sense of familiarity and trust. It was different without a hundred others also reading what we communicated with each other and the ability to edit. We chatted until the fire was fading. We set up sleeping arrangements and bedded down for the evening.
The Morning Comes:
I awake before the alarm. We have an appointment with Ken and Amie down the road in Prescott Valley, behind a Chevron station, at 9:30am. We had decided to break camp and stop off at the lakeside store for a comfortable breakfast, instead of a camper’s food and its procedures.
This cute little store has a wonderful dining menu. In the evenings they serve fine dining, even with escargot as an appetizer. This morning, we are greeted by omelets and superb potatoes, served by an exuberant cheery waitress. She could have been the model for any “Alice” in any diner, in any movie. A view of the Adirondack-like Lynx Lake and cabin-like atmosphere is all highly pleasing.
Running late and with a longer drive than expected, we arrive in the back of the gas station and call our guides. Ken and Amie were to be the knowledgeable “locals” showing us one of their favorite spots.
They arrive a few minutes later, as we are preparing our gear, water and snacks for a hike. We don’t yet know where we were going, but for a couple of ideas. Ken and Amie have that favorite area, I had scouted the internet and found a riparian area, and we would like to see their land where they will soon be building their new home.
We decide on the former and take off in a convoy with Ken in the lead. After a few turns in a rural residential area, he pulls off to the side of the road and gets out of their van. He explains that they had decided to give us a short tour of their property before the hike.
Curious, we follow them up a foot path to a metal wire arch, then Ken turns and announces that they are naturists and will be disrobing, inviting us to do so, as well. That was easy for us. I knew that I had been dressed for way too long. This is a free range naturist gathering, right? I leave my shorts and that t-shirt across a bush and follow through the arch as we are told that they had been married there with the arch. The property is on a hill covered with the thickest and scratchiest vegetation that any leaf will bestow. It looks out over the neighborhood and surrounding hillsides. It has several acres to it. Normally, up on a hill, one would be very exposed to the rest of the populace, but Ken has discovered something about this hill. He has created a stealth path throughout the property, there are views everywhere, but that thick troublesome vegetation has been turned into an ally. It is shoulder high providing a fence-like visual barrier. He has taken great care in making this rocky terrain into a delightful barefoot ready path.
The route is lined often a foot tall with rocks, some places dug down into the harsh rocky ground to make a softer tread. The plants have been meticulously trimmed back to actually be friendly.
He has constructed this paradise while nude, with obvious care. It winds around and through. It has occasional meditative spiritual alcoves in the tall brush. There is a terraced garden. All of this is utilized to looking out, but not being exposed as being in nudity. I might add that most neighbors look up, increasing the privacy by the angle of the view. It is almost like casually walking around in the neighborhood naked in the daylight without the repercussions. There is another report (Duane’s take) and some pictures here: http://freerangenaturism.com/forum/index.php?topic=861.0;topicseen
The next adventure:
Ken and Amie tell us that they would like to try hiking something new. They will not be able to be with us tomorrow. We decide to find the botanical preserve that I have found to be looking promising. We stumble to find the ill marked road off of the highway, and follow unreliable directions with a forest service map and what I can remember from google satellite. Still unsure and with trepidation, we come to a parking area.
The rough road goes on, but is obviously in complete decline after this and more than their vehicles are prepared for. It is now apparent that there is a riparian area out there and we are on the correct “track.” Rather than hike in, not knowing the distance, we decide to leave their cars with part of our equipment in them. With that, all of us climb into my 4×4 from here. It is a tight squeeze for the three in the back. The truck is now rocking and bouncing as it creeps in four wheel low.
I hear occasional spontaneous groans behind me, as I traverse a nasty trail of steep rock and deep gullies. Like so many places, I hope that there is a particularly nasty spot, just when things get better. This was almost the case. It is not at all a maintained road, there is scratching of the sides of the truck body, nearly all of the way.
We arrive at a turn around, after driving through a beautiful riparian area. Everyone wants stop get out and walk. It is pleasant and mostly shady.
The road soon leads to a Forest Service kiosk, with a map, rules and an explanation of the botanical area.
Crossing a streambed, we head in, finally confident of a general idea of where we are going.
It is lush here.
A diverse and unusual mix of trees from different ecosystems proves it to be unique.
After a short while, water in the stream appears and then disappears at the spring head. It reappears later and then another disappearance.
The flow varies, but all along the confluence there is this wonderful biodiverse forest.
Moss over tree roots, trickles and small enchanting waterfalls, river rocks and geological structures.
Flowers of many types sometimes spring up on the floor, but mostly now in October, we are seeing shades of green and brown.
Where the babbling brook isn’t heard, there is acute silence.
Sometimes the wind picks up, through the wonderland and blesses our naked bodies.
Referring to wind across our full bodies, Duane turns to me, and states, “You know, it is amazing to think that most human beings have never experienced this simple wonder”. This very simple, very human, fundamental experience of being, is lost to most. There is something profoundly wrong with that. This simple thing is robbed from humanity, yet it never fails to give a naturist a special connection. DF and I just stood there as a choir, soundly in agreement, dumbfounded by the absurdity. We are enraptured by the obvious wisdom in the breath of the gift of the moment and the sunlight glistening about us with it.
At one point we mistake a fork in the trail. Soon discovering our mistake we back track and find the correct route.
We wander through, snapping photos, noting fascinating bits of nature and sharing our discoveries with each other.
We are in no hurry, with no real goal. We do wonder about what is around the next bend, and where this leads.
Duane tells us that this is his first encounter with social nudity.
He has been a solitary hiker. He has noticed that this is not really different than hiking clothed with others in his experience, just without clothing and more in touch.
It is all quite natural.
One of us has become tired.
We just can’t complain about anything.
Whatever happens is seemingly perfect.
There is curiosity about what is ahead, but the trip back will be lovely.
We decide to adjourn. I will take a look further on the net and find out where this all goes. Perhaps we will return some other way at another time.
The stroll back is still wonderful. Burl is in old gnarly mesquite and alligator skinned juniper.
Orange balls of cocooned bugs hang from the branches of bushes, a contrasting colorful bloom.
Sometimes a fun rock grabs our attentions.
Yea, this naturism, this touchy feely way of relating to an amazing universe makes for an incredible day.
When we arrive at the other vehicles, we know that we must find a new place to camp in the next couple of hours. Ken is hungry. We decide to split up. Perhaps we’ll reconnect this evening next to a campfire.
The tale will continue into the evening and the next day. I’ll post after just a few busy days.