It didn’t come like that, I got a really annoying professional artist to apply the decals. Okay, we dated, but the decals ended up lasting a lot longer than he did, in so many ways.
Hiking naked was more philosophy than practice although one hot summer in Colorado I did try descending a 14,000 foot mountain without a shirt or bra. The bruises on my chin have just about healed.
The general idea was to leave the mental trappings of modern society behind, opening the psyche up to the wild, being completely in the moment, going primal. And, sure enough, the deeper I explored the backcountry, the sweeter everything got. The wind didn’t let me go to voicemail, bears weren’t passive-aggressive, the sun wasn’t a scorching narcissist. Well, okay, I just learned to put sunscreen on everything.
German backpackers notwithstanding, I don’t actually recommend hitting the trails sans apparel. First of all, chafing. Secondly, unless you’ve got rock hard confidence and a butt cuter than kittens, nobody wants to see that. Thirdly, insect repellent stings, think about that one. Anyway, it always baffles me how people at nude beaches are never who you want to see in the all-together. It’s always some pasty mid-lifer whose silhouette looks like he’s smuggling aquatic scrotum frogs in a fanny pack.
So, imagine my surprise when I discovered Mt. Hood had joined the naturists. I came around a corner in the forest, looked up, and there he was in all his…um…glory. Dude was naked. I don’t think it was by choice, global warming pretty much forced the entire Cascade Range to flash its basalt. When snow melts, the only thing defending a volcano’s modesty is nighttime and cumulus clouds.
The shock of mountains showing me their bare peaks first hit back in 2002. That was the summer the governor declared “all of Colorado is burning” because, well, it was. So many forest fires were raging at once over such a large area that the state looked like a psoriasis victim from space. The fierce aroma of wood smoke infiltrated all but the most hermetically sealed buildings in Denver and I was sucking it all in happily in deep breaths. The asthma population, not so much. Emergency health reports on the evening news were advising sufferers to hole up in their bedrooms and jam wet blankets under their doors like teen-aged stoners.
Those were heady days of peak bagging 14ers. Global warming hadn’t extended the Rocky Mountain climbing season yet, so everyone had to time their route to catch the short, snowless window between July and September when hikers only posthole through the melting drifts
up to their crotches a little. No one complained about traversing snow fields back then because what was slick and dangerous going up was fun as hell sliding down: On glissade, baby! Now, there’s barely enough up there to get your socks wet.
I was okay with the white stuff. Seductive peeks at granite here and there were enough for me, I didn’t need to see everything. I mean, sure, Mother Nature is sexy as hell, but no mountain should have to parade around with its quartz hanging out. A little mystery is good. Same with naked hiking: Keep it between you and your thighs.
By 2005, I’d finally had enough and emigrated to the Pacific Northwest to fondle moss and escape summer water restrictions. Portland gets 42 inches of moisture a year to Denver’s piddly 16. You’d think that’d be enough for mountain ranges to cover up but locals around Mt. Hood have been muttering among themselves lately and exchanging nervous eye twitches. Portland may be rainy but it’s the snow on that volcano that trickles down to fill the city’s reservoir. If it ain’t a white Christmas, it becomes a long, hot summer of cracklin’ lawns and navy showers.
Now, I’m not going to launch into some all-natural, gluten-free environmental rant about water conservation (Except to say that California needs to cut it the fuck out with the golf courses. Seriously, people.) but I will say that when you’re suddenly staring down the plumber’s crack of a normally snowclad mountain, a peak famous for being so wrapped with the frozen stuff that its ski resort used to be operational 365 days a year, things are dire, and maybe you should just sell those golf clubs, Biff.
(Massive panorama of Mt. Hood nekkid. Zoom in, perverts.)
August 22, 2016