To Georgia and Back Series: Part 7
We’re at a retreat in the northern part of Alabama.
I have been researching trails in the Talladega National Forest, but I figure that I need some firsthand experience with the area. Anecdotal testimony of locals has been telling me that once you get away from the main trails, you won’t see many people.
This is reported to be especially true for the Pinhoti Trail, a 170 miles escapade through wilderness, mountains and streams. Many people use it to warm up for the Appalachian Trail. There are busier links to it, but it is well maintained. Because of its length and personification as more of a backpacking trail, there are plenty of nude hiking sections. It goes through old growth forests, water features, and up to grand vistas.
We have had plans for a section of the Chinnabee Silent Trail. Most people travel the popular section, but we are planning to travel on the section across the highway, away from that and then the intersecting trail.
Alabama nudity laws are remarkably similar to Arizona laws. We know that there will be reluctance by authorities to follow up on any complaints in a remote area. We know that complaints are nearly non-existent, anyway. We know that that the law is geared to a “reasonable person” and those who object are the odd balls. If there is any suspicion of an encounter with any such odd balls, we can just cover particular parts of our anatomy.
We set out for our destination, but due to a co-pilot error, we have missed the boat for our original plan. There is a trail, linked with the Pinhoti on our way back, before dark. It is called Porter’s Gap and the trailhead is just off of the road. It is our fall back.
One thing that we have been impressed with today, as we drove around lost, is the sheer size of forested expanse here in this part of Alabama. It is hundreds of square miles of wilderness and National Forests. There are plenty of places to get out and away from the crowds, find solitude and natural surroundings. There are plenty of streams and water.
As we drove, we found that each town and county had a billboard touting a stern looking sheriff, who running for office. It was as though the only publicly elected officials were these sheriffs. Given Alabama’s reputation, it should be intimidating to see this picture of a man who looks as if he would have trouble smiling. You might surmise that if you happened to walk past one of these guys, that you might hear him tell, you, “As you were.” They look as if the custom might be to stand at attention, whenever they pass.
We drive around these beautiful hills and through its small towns naked and comfortable. Nobody is noticing us, we’re just tourists. This isn’t the era of “Easy Rider,” or the back hills of “Deliverance.”
We arrive at our sampling trail as the sun begins to shoot through the trees in that golden evening light, the kind with long shadows of tall trees.
There are three cars in the parking lot, all empty. We have coverings on until we can assess the situation. These could be section backpackers, day hikers, or someone out for an evening stroll.
When it is established that we are hidden from the highway by the trees, we disrobe, wraps are in hand.
Nobody pops out along the trail. It becomes quite comfortable.
We have been constantly nude for a few days, now. It seems out of kilter to be wearing something.
The trail is smooth, wide and well maintained as a part of the Pinhoti system. We stroll along. There is curiosity driving us forward. One bend leads to another, as we see what might be around the next.
At a point, we begin to realize that this can be a dark place when the sun disappears.
We are having a drink, about to head back, when a young man walks up behind us. We see him in plenty of time but with straps, it is difficult to get dressed. We are with legally covered body parts as he passes. I’m certain that he noticed a pair of bare behinds in the distance. He smiles saying. “Good evening.”
I wonder where he is going at this late hour with his backpack. It is easy to just find a place to camp along the trail in these forests.
We find yet more examples of Alabama mushrooms and diversity.
We stop to document.
Some are common, some are just beautiful.
There is still enough light as we walk back into the parking area and head home.
We realize that we could spend weeks walking naked through these wonderful hills.
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