I have a special spot. It is not well known, nor frequented. Its access is easy. It is comfortable, trees tower above, grass and mountain flowers carpet the ground among pine needles.
I make sure not to make tracks, or develop a trail. I make sure to not let anyone on the highway see me enter the forest. Sure people find it, there is actually a path worn through it.
There are two ways to get there. One is a more popular trail and people focus on that and where they are stepping. They pass right by. I’ve put sticks across in the past, but it is becoming more obvious in time. Slowly, people are finding out.
The other entrance is near a signed trailhead of a moderately popular backpacking trek. There are signs pointing away from where I go. I simply stroll down the road a few hundred feet and when no one is looking, I slip off the highway into the brush.
I go here with DF. We have had long serious talks here. We have had restful afternoons naked on a picnic blanket. We have brought our granddaughter here to show her our love of nature.
I have no concerns of meeting someone here when I’m nude. It is unlikely and even so, they are unlikely to complain. This isn’t a designated trail. My body is no secret, I’m not embarrassed. I am just within my place in my naturism there.
It is a canyon, which slopes down meeting a larger canyon. There is often water in the creek below where others walk. A spring pops out from under a rock here on occasion. It is generally a quiet trickle.
There is one drawback. The highway is just above. Cars pass by. They are in plain sight, but no one is looking down here. A guardrail blocks most passersby’s vision. There is the sound, however. Occasionally the forest erupts all around with the noise of a Harley Davidson cruising on the curves enjoying the feel of the open highway. They are as loud as rolling thunder in a quiet forest. It echoes through the woods no matter where you are on that mountain, even a quarter mile away. It is as though everything stops and then gratitude and relief comes as the noise fades off. The deer relax their ears, alarm fades away.
Although I have thought of it many times, I have yet to spend the night here. There is only one truly level spot to set a tent and that might draw attention from the road. There are some nooks and crannies up the hill in the forest. I might be able to lay a bivy bag there. If I had one, a hammock would work up here.
I can wander, looking at mushrooms. I observe the decay of grand old red pines through the years. The termites and other insects combine in the moist wood to whittle away at the huge fallen being. Some places it is so soft that the old logs crumble, as I step on them.
Some places I can walk through the clutter of this forest on a huge fallen tree as a bridge promenade. Sometimes, they are a welcome comfortable place to just sit, or lay about, to rest, to meditate, to observe.
Dainty flowers dot the place when it isn’t cold. They vary from spring season, to monsoon season, to fall.
There are pieces of trail that are thick with ferns. In the Spring they caress my thighs. Later they turn a rusty brown and stiffen up. They scratch, but with no toxins. They feel good, like a tough brush before a shower.
There is one spot where each time I pass, I have a memory, a vision of DF wading through these green ferns, delighted by her first nude walk in nature. It was just one act in trust that changed her forever. She was bold and open. She trusted of my judgement and listened to my strategy. She embraced the discovery fully. She had fun.
The trail meanders crossing the stream, climbing up hills and then separating from the stream again. Still, I can I can look down into the gully and see it. I can always make my way to get closer to that water, if I’m curious.
Sometimes, I take a guitar up here. The calm and solitude compel my expression. I play softer. I strum few cords. Instead my fingers pick a light tune that wanders and never plays the same twice. I often find a new something, a sweat song appears, maybe something folksy, or a variation of some Mexican classic that I might have heard and left in a drawer in the back of my mind. Like the wandering on a forest trail, like steps, each note leads to another. I kind of know where it goes, but I don’t know how it feels until I’m there.
This is not a long walk, maybe a quarter of a mile, maybe more. It is up and down and gives a good exercise at 9000 feet of elevation. I just enjoy it. There is no goal, no trek, and no sense in a strong exertion. Often, when I take my walk here, all belongings are left behind, even shoes. I feel comfortable safe, alive and free.
When I get closer to the end, near the other trail, I sometimes feel some excitement. There can be people on those other trails nearby. I feel a little adventurous, a streak of daring, as risk can be there. I feel some of that sense of being more naked. It feels like a place more public. Sometimes, there is an old sense of feeling out of place.
After considering the time, or day of the week, I have walked further and down the more frequented trail. Maybe, I’ll have a wrap, maybe I won’t. It is a small gamble. If I think about it, an encounter is a small matter, insignificant. I let go, experience the feel of some fear, just enough of a rush of excitement. The mind and the emotion, they play with each other. Sometimes, it is more fun not being seen and hiding in stealth, in the shadows.
The trip up is a getting away from town. The drive is famously scenic all the way. The ecosystems change from desert to, grassland, to grand pine topped Rocky Mountains. The vistas are stunning.
I park, I get out, I smell the pine air. I walk in my solitude. I have stepped away in sanctuary.