The Southern End in Tucson Mountain Park
We traditionally take the first nude hike of the year on New Year’s Day, but this year DF has to work. She has New Year’s Eve off. It’s only a date on a calendar. We’ll just have to be early.
Since my move, my new location is in a different proximity to nature. I can no longer just walk out my door and roam for miles in the Tortolita hills. It is time to get acquainted with my local trails.
The closest trails and potential for naked hiking is in the Tucson Mountains. It is a smaller range, not very tall, relatively. There are significant stands of saguaro and I’ve heard that the spring rains can bring wonderment. I am generally unfamiliar with the hiking of them.
Today we will reconnoiter the Tucson Mountain Park, which is a series of trails in the southern end of the range. Because of the local interstate, I surmise that it will only take about 15 to 20 minutes to get to the trailheads that I have researched on the maps and google satellite photos. If this pans out, in my sense of it, that is nude solitude just down the street.
The weather may be too cold, but close to nice for bare skin on desert dwellers. There will be partly cloudy skies, which could make for a chill. We know all too well that the warmth from the direct sun can make all of the difference to a nude body.
We don’t know yet, what the winds will be like where we are going. It is open country, but hills can increase the velocity like Bernoulli’s tube. Even a slight breeze can make a huge difference in comfort.
Today, a sweat shirt and a thick camouflage kilt should be enough and be quick to get in and out of. DF has full pants and an under-layer of black silk.
This is winter in North America. Sometimes, you just can’t comfortably, or even safely nude hike, but you can scout out an area, to see if it will be a viable nude trek at a later date.
During a cold period, maybe, the sun will pop out for a brief time, or the wind will stop. Perhaps one can become more acclimated and enjoy a brisk hike. People can adapt in varying circumstance. We don’t just hibernate naturally. We can prepare. There is a time and a place.
We look for the first trailhead. It comes surprisingly quick. After passing it, we double back. It is just a small turnoff, unmarked and room for only a few cars. This is a good sign. There are however, other trails which would intersect this one on up in the hills. They have their own trailheads and I don’t know how popular those might be.
We pull in and get out to stretch, briefly. I believe that this may do. It also continues on the other side of the highway into a still further patch of undeveloped desert. I have no intention of crossing over and exploring this today. From the satellite, it has many paths coming into it from areas with homes.
We watch over the highway, squinting to see where these trails may go, to get an idea of the privacy, where it disappears from sight of the roads and try to get a feel for the size of the area. Perhaps when the kids are in school during the weekdays, it would be the route less traveled.
We climb back into the car and head over to the next trailhead, which is shortly up the road, We nearly miss it, too. It isn’t marked and it is a smaller space still. There is maybe room for four vehicles and there is but one lone truck parked in one of those spaces.
This will intersect the through-trail in about a half a mile.
This trail runs along a residential area, of four or five acre lots. I recognize some of it. Back in the last part of the last century, I had been here visiting naturist friends. I was a member of a non-landed club with them. They would host events at their home. This was before the trail system was as developed.
As I reminisce, I recall that they mentioned that they had hiked all the way up Cat Mountain, which towers above this part of the mountain range with steep walls of color and distinction. It looks awesome at this time, as we look up from its base to its peak. I resolve to keep an eye out for clues to their route.
These are lesser hills, similar in stature to the Tortolita Mountains. Saguaros populate spots in these hills as much as at the Saguaro Monument north of here. It is a volcanic range with potential for fun geology. I feel at home.
We stay dressed as we pass on the other side of a wire fence in the view of the homes. There are a few windows and porches facing us, with just a few spots when we are out of their view. I know that soon the public lands will surround us on all sides.
There are significant stands of saguaro here, but we see few older ones with multiple arms. There are plenty of younger ones, younger than me. We begin to postulate why. There doesn’t seem to be many carcasses, from a die off. It makes no sense, but we are happy to see such abundance.
At one spot, there are seven young saguaro within a ten foot square. This is very unusual. They are crowded under the mothering plant, a bright green palo verde tree. Few saguaros survive into their teenage years, growing slowly and vulnerable unless sheltered.
Less than a half a mile up the trail, I see no further need for my kilt. I triumphantly take it off and stuff it into DF’s backpack, relishing in my liberation.
I’m not ready to rid myself of the rest, until I’m more certain of the gathering silver gray clouds to the southwest. I’ve been spoiled, accustomed to free moving, free breathing body parts. Even losing a kilt, I feel much better, healthier, in a natural sense of comfort.
Disrobing, there is a sense of liberation, of putting behind the usual world, like beginning a vacation, like a new adventure, or enterprise. It is a shedding of what was, into an immersion of what presently is. Shedding and immersion is a symbolic function of nude hiking. For me, undressing is a small ritual, which presents a cue to wellbeing. There is enhancement.
This is a beautiful rugged spot. Arid, there is a little topsoil and many hard sharp rocks to step on, and to step around. The landscape of rocks surrounds us and boulders. They have fallen off of the bare bed rock, which climbs in beautiful shapes above. They all accumulate into mountains, which host abundance.
The next trail greets us with a well-produced sign complete with a map of the area stating, “You Are Here.”
We take off according to plan, to the west. The saguaros only increase in number as we climb, passing through this canyon between two ridges.
We note mountain bike tracks, and soon, there are a pair of riders passing and greeting us friendly. We get off of the trail, making room for them. No mention is made, verbally, or notice by sight, of the extremely short pants that I’m not wearing. I’d just pull down the bottom of my sweat shirt to be covered legally, if they were to notice. Bikers riding down rocky, slippery, pricker infested trails, don’t have much time to take in the view.
DF decides that it is warm enough to take her tops off. She’ll test these waters some more before undressing completely.
I’m still maintaining comfort with my torso covered.
As we gain elevation, behind us, the city comes into view through this passage. The clouds are passing on the wind, creating pockets of warm and colder air, as they block the beams of solar heat.
We watch the shadows of the clouds play into the landscape in the distance. The highlighting changes quickly, hills glow and then turn contrasting dark again. The city is lit up with unobstructed light.
DF notices a cairn. We explore off of the trail and find more of these.
It has been used unofficially. I suspect that this is the way up the mountain that my friends spoke of twenty years ago. As I make note, we resolve to climb up there naked before it gets too warm, after it gets warm enough and before the rattlesnakes come out from hibernation. They could be a surprise up there, where we will be on a less clearly marked trail and possibly bushwhacking. I want to avoid coming nose to nose with an agitated rattler on a steep hill climb, again.
On top of that dominate mountain, there will be an impressive 360 degree vista overlooking all of the major mountain ranges and of Tucson, stretching out before us dozens of miles.
I have already noted that the main trail is wide enough and clear enough, so that rattlers shouldn’t be a problem in the future.
We make our way to the saddle and the trail begins to head downhill.
DF has had her top off for only a few precious minutes, before the cloud cover discourages her nudity.
Around a bend, we come to a ridge and take a path worn into the landscape. It works and we are able to look out across an entire valley.
There, I see pieces of the other trails and a hill of grey geology, which had me curious from the satellite photos. The washes that I noted are before me. I suspected that as they cross the trail below, they could then be a pleasant place to hike nude. The vegetation seen from here is clearly thick and tall. The riparian conveyance would make a good spot of more privacy. I’ll check it over closely in the future.
Returning to the main trail, we have another biker come past us. The trail on this Monday isn’t uncomfortably populated. I’m encouraged. This is a nice walk a short distance from my place.
We continue around the bend, as we make a slight descent. There has been occasional disturbance of aircraft and traffic noises from the city surrounding us, but at once, there appears in my ears, that sought after dead silence. This calm is what I am looking for. Living in town, I am constantly hearing the noise of other people’s lives. I need the sound of silence, the lack of distraction and activity and the end of the wasted mental and emotional energy of noises and alarm. The conscious and unconscious are always listening and reacting. Here in silence, there is nothing to react to.
Soon, I see a few large boulders have collected around the trail. Two are flat on top. I climb up and find a perfect slope. I sit down, crossing my legs India style, as if I am sitting on my old friend back in Tortolita that I call Havarock. The view is wonderful. I could spend some time here.
It is an hour from home and some good exercise. I’ll be sure to enjoy watching these mountains change when the rains come back and the seasons unfold. Everywhere, I see the kinds of situations and ground cover that promise a plethora of small blooming desert plants that will arise and color this place. The rock varies in color. This will be a special place for me.
We continue, until we can give ourselves enough time to return before sundown. Already the temperatures have dipped down well into the 60F’s and the clouds have become thicker. It looks like rain in the distance.
There are varieties of vegetation.
The Teddy Bear Cholla are numerous on certain hillsides, thick balls of glowing prickers lighting up yellow.
There is an unusual type of prickley pear cactus here. It is similar to the endangered purple ones to the south of here. These are a distinctive red and I suspect related.
I have seen tens of thousands of saguaros in just two visits to the interior of these mountains, but no crested saguaros have been spotted yet. On our way down the hill, we find one with one crested arm.
It is a freak on an otherwise normal specimen.
I leave the kilt in the backpack, as we return to the vicinity of the houses. I figure the sweatshirt is long enough to keep a person in the distance guessing as to what I’m wearing below it. People generally don’t suspect nudity and my image would be too small from their porches to give certainty.
It is December and these mountains are lighting up in gold and rose at sunset until dusk. I’m pleased.
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