The Northern Hemisphere summer solstice arrived at 5:46 UT this morning (1:46 a.m. EDT). Now we’ll experience the longest day, the shortest night, and perhaps a spate of naked hikers.
Hiking au naturel is not legal in our national parks. That’s not to say it doesn’t occur on the park trails and elsewhere on the many thousands of miles of trails in this fine country. If you’ve spent a good deal of time hiking the more remote trails, the chances are that you’re already aware of this phenomenon. No doubt some of you reading this have …. ahem … participated.
I recall a hike on the Pacific Crest Trail a few years back that was enlivened when our little hiking party encountered Naked Guy, which is what we call that particular hiker in our recountings of the event. Naked Guy was German, and as you may know, there is a lot of naked hiking going on over there in Europe (though it is discouraged in many places).
Whatever. Today is a day when the odds of spotting unclad hikers on trails right here in the U.S. are significantly higher than normal. That’s because people who like to hike in the buff have informally declared the summer solstice to be Naked Hiking Day.
On Naked Hiking Day, they say, we should just go ahead and let it all hang out. Just say to hell with the insects, thorns, and sunburn. But be considerate and pick remote places. Don’t be crude or lewd.
That part about being discrete is very good advice. The vast majority of hikers believe that nude hiking is inconsiderate or rude. Law enforcement officials are not amused, either. In the national parks, rangers stand ready to cite naked hikers for indecent exposure. That doesn’t happen a lot, because nude hiking is apparently still rare on national park trails.
But then again, if nude hikers are doing their thing in places where other people don’t see them, how are we supposed to know for sure how much of this is going on? Hmmmmm. Looks like we might need a government grant to study this. About three hundred thousand bucks should do it. Be sure to let us know if you spot an RFP. A couple of old college professors of my acquaintance might be willing to come out of retirement for this one.
Postscript: If you are going to declare a Naked Hiking Day, it makes a certain amount of sense to choose the summer solstice. Since time immemorial, nudity has been a feature of pagan festivals and other rituals marking the arrival of the summer solstice.