John P. and Dan are excellent hosts and showing us around Vermont, giving pointers, lore and introductions to several wonderful naturists. For we two, who are new to this environment and place, this is a valuable treat. They have decided to stay around an extra day, after the World Naked Hiking Day celebration and show us a few places on their way back to Massachusetts. We all are simpatico, enjoying each other’s company.
We have breakfast, as the rain changes from a constant drizzle to a light sprinkle. The warmth of the sun is gone. Still, I’m getting by with just a t-shirt and a sweat shirt. Dan is defiantly nude. He is convinced of his hardiness in the cold. I suppose that there is much biology in belief to conquer the cold, just look what Wim Hof does with attitude. We people of the Arizona desert, DF and Jbee, aren’t as adept at it.
We move our assembled tent back to the original shelter, which is now vacated by our fellow campsite occupants. They had said their goodbyes after breakfast.
We go down to the office to pay for an extended stay. We have chipped in to pay a portion of the site fees for the last few evenings. Now, we’ll be on our own.
Down the hill, a frustrated attendant is pounding at the computer to get it to work for her. She calls for help, which doesn’t come. Finally, with a curled lip and a squint, she just gives up to our inconvenience and announces that the stay will have no charge. Six days for $20 bucks! I can’t get out of there quick enough. I feel like I’ve done a robbery. I really like Vermont!
Secured, we four that remain walk down to Emerald Lake, the body of water that the campground is named after. It is emerald in color. The hue is so rich that we have to wonder if there is something in the water besides the refection of the trees.
The ground is soft and inviting on the forest paths and out on the green grass lawns. Walking to a less public area, which requires less clothing, we wander through tall plants and grasses. The waist high foliage is closing into the trail and I wonder about the feared ticks, but only for a moment. The sensual wet touch against bare thighs trumps any negative thoughts.
We find our way around the lake to a wooden bridge over the feeder stream. There is evidence of a beaver.
We continue across and up a hill to further investigate. There is a mound out in the marsh. The beavers here build differently. They are using lots of smaller sticks and not felling fully grown trees, but none the less, they have created a wide significant marsh.
We come to that railroad track, where we had heard passing trains the previous night. A nude walk down it could be fun. We step on each railroad tie as we travel, “truckin’” style. I’ve got “Casey Jones” playing in my mind.
This is a poor railroad. The rails are not well attached to the wooden ties. The pieces of metal are easy to pull out with no spikes holding them. The wood is rotted too much.
During this trip back east, associations in my mind have been constantly stimulated, bringing up memories of youth. I’m reminded of the tracks next to my school in Lee Hall, Virginia. We children would sneak into the woods during recess, when the teacher was distracted and find sassafras roots to chew like candy. The rail tracks were just beyond.
We pal and joke. Dan stretches across the track. I grab my mustache and pull, giving my best Snidely Whiplash, “nah-ah-hah,” as DF makes photography.
We have explored and our friends have much more to show us today. We begin our return.
We put on wraps, as we approach the campground facilities. It has been all to ourselves today, with the rains and cold driving people away.
We try the swing set and find our way up the verdant tunnel through the forest which covers the road.
We’ll soon be on our way to Somerset Lake.
We travel in our Civic, following them in Dan’s car, through the Pennington bypass and then miles on a gravel forest service road across a flatland forest. The forest is so thick that there are few places to camp. None the less, these two point out a few spots to just pull off and pitch a tent. A few are already occupied.
The location with the most promise is an old landing strip next to a fly fishing waterway. There are actually public toilets there. It is close to a dam and its lake.
Somerset is a big lake. We park in a large empty lot. And get out. There is a low fog out on the water. It looks like Loc Ness, but it is not creepy. It is very charming. The fog is wet and cold, but I suspect that it can hold warmth in under the tree canopy.
We begin our walk around the water’s edge on a yellow bridge.
We’re a bit bundled up. Dan, undeterred, is still nude. Despite the grey, I still can’t get over the green in this part of the country. It is astounding to me.
This place also has a layer of thick moss and it reminds me of the travels of The Hobbit. I’m half expecting a dragon to come flying from the sky, but instead there is a break in the clouds that reveals the huge distant wind turbines, up there. The grand propellers turn dreamlike, as if clearing the fluff of clouds as they spin.
As we pass a fisherman, I remember that there was one truck in the parking lot. From here we have the place to ourselves. This information would be handy, but for the cool moist air and that we are in Vermont, where such naked concerns are nearly moot.
Roots are exposed everywhere and we have to give an amount of attention to our steps on the trail. There seems to be a web of them holding the lake together along with the moss capping the moist soil.
This is a reservoir where the water came up the hillside, making it lakeside. We walk on. The feel reminds me of my years in France, wet, but just barely cold.
On a rock, lounges an orange salamander. I haven’t seen one like this in years.
Like any boys in the wood, we stop to harass it with our naturalist curiosity.
Dan’s nudity is getting to us. This is supposed to be a nude hike, isn’t it? Isn’t naked better? Aren’t we missing out on something here? Is Dan having all of the fun?
DF announces that she is going to be bold. She has decided to at least take her top off and tuck it in the daypack, just to give it a try. My kilt has already disappeared, but I’m going to continue to keep my torso warm. There is an extreme heatwave back in Tucson. Those one hundred teens Fahrenheit temperatures are something that we are more used to than this little nip. To an Arizona desert dweller, this seems extreme.
Talking about our trip, I mention Smokey the Bear and how his pants and hat were missing during a childhood trip to the Washington D.C. zoo. That disillusioned me as a child. As I remember the disappointment, I laugh.
John P. tells us that Winnie the Poo also was a discovered orphan, who was also placed in a zoo, but in London. Seems that they had similar stories, but only one outfit, a ranger’s. It was as if Smokey got the bottom half and poo took the top. Seemingly appropriate and already in costume, DF and I pose as Smokey and Winnie.
We pass where most people stop walking. On a busy day, this would be the hassle free nude area.
The root and rocks trail is making my feet angry again. The adventure of this alien environment distracts me from that.
The woodpeckers sound sedated compared to the rat-a-tat-tat of their Arizona of saguaro boring relatives. We find that their results are no less impressive.
Wandering along, we notice a kind of ruins under the leaves, next to the path. It is time for a curious inspection. There is a slab, elevated like a nice porch with a view. We begin to look deeper. There are artifacts all around, a cast iron sink and metal sheets. I’m thinking that it was a cabin before the lake, but Dan has further clues. All of these beautiful forests were logged years ago. This could be a workers cabin. It is longer than wide. He says that they used to rack the guys up in rows, back in the day. Yep, it’s a workers quarters.
We don’t know how old the lake is, but being so close to the waterline, we suspect this is older and this was for lumber. Our nude detectives in the woods interlude over, we head back on the trail to return faster than we walked in.
On the other side of Wilmington, we park in another empty lot to explore The Ledges, a popular skinny dip spot.
The weather is still cloudy with a mist. Nothing too nasty, but certainly not what Arizonans are used to.
We take to the lower parking lot with its family oriented picnic area and then are lead off to the trail where “people don’t go.” There is thick foliage. Here on the edge of the forest, like a hedge, plants take advantage of freedom from oppressive deciduous competition.
There is no one but us today. It is quiet, as we take the path through the woods.
DF and I are shown where most people strip. There has been heat from a realtor to close the nude section down in the past. Under siege, the local users like to keep a lower profile. Even in Vermont, Victorian sensibilities, power and money can mix. Eventually, along the lake, a rock shelf appears. It wraps around as several stunning sunning rocks.
The determination of the lake level is its use to fuel a power station. Dan surveys. An amazed expression sits on his face, “I’ve never seen it like this!” The place is essentially flooded. Down below us, under the clear water, a fire pit can be seen. There is indeed an extensive rock beach here. We explore the other higher ledges of sunning rocks along the lakeside.
Dan, undaunted and seemingly impervious to any chilly obstacles, drops his shoes and climbs in for a dip. He swims out. Obviously, he knows this place. He fulfills his desired plans, as his visit had detailed. His favorite is swimming “The Ledges.”
Dan demonstrates to us the pleasure that is the ledges, as we walk along the outcroppings and photograph. We put our hands in to test the waters. It is warm compared to the air, and certain to be a bit more brisk where deeper. I then imagine getting out into the cold air, “brrr….”
A naked body can adapt to cold surprisingly well. I know I could do this, but I’m flat out just not in a mood to “adapt” today. While Dan visits the water logged fire pit, the view to the west is gorgeous. This place is first on the list to return to on a sunny day.
When Dan gets out, his strategy is to keep moving to generate body heat and avoid the possibility of hypothermia.
Back up the trail, to the upper parking lot, I get my bearings for our return trip. Then, down the hill to the cars, a venerable old VW van has two swimmers looking excited and invigorated from their plunge in the lake.
We decide to look for a restaurant in town. Two are closed. We double back to eat outside. The salmon sandwich and ice-cream desert is pretty darn good. We like hanging out with our friends and hope that we can link up again during our journey. A dark grey day in the woods has been brightened by their company.
After our goodbyes, it rains all the way back to camp. It is dangerous in the dark with showers on the two lane highway. At a sign stating “moose crossing,” a truck has rolled. We plod through the collection of flashing lights and wish them the best, like a prayer.
It feels very good to climb into the shelter of our tent together, warm and dry.
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How beautiful guys. A little bit of heaven even if it was a bit chilly. Dan’s just like my Gary…defiantly naked in order to enjoy the experience naturally.
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