If you go down to the woods today.
As part of trying to be more involved in supporting naturist events, I recently went on a clothing-optional forest hike with a group of naturists, my first naked hike and a bucket list item to tick off. The hike was planned for the day after the recent local WNBR (World Naked Bike Ride) event which was also on my bucket list, so the weekend was exceedingly productive in terms of naturist engagement and trying new things.
I asked my partner Emma if she would like to join us, and while she was less willing to walk naked with a group of people that she didn’t know, she was more than happy to walk with us as a clothed participant. The event had been advertised as clothing optional and we had no idea how many people would turn up.
The plan was to walk for 4 hours on a return trip beside the Waitawheta River. We would walk for 2 hours or so, find a spot to have lunch and then return the way we came. The weather forecast was fine with scattered showers and possible thunderstorms later in the afternoon, and while the day was overcast, it was warm and comfortable weather for hiking. The meeting point was the car park at the end of Franklin road at 10.00 am.
Arriving about 10 minutes early there was already a group of guys waiting, most of whom I had seen on the bike ride the day before. We gathered around, made our introductions and waited for others to arrive. By 10.00 am there were 12 of us, 11 guys and Emma, and we made our way down the road, across the farmland towards the bush.
Walking predominantly in single file through the forest, Snow White and the 11 nudists, most people that we come across were polite and did not appear offended. Some averted their gaze but many smiled and walked past. Some even engaged in polite conversation as one would when passing a stranger as if there was nothing wrong with a group of people walking naked in the forest.
After about 6.5Km (4 miles), we found a spot beside the river where we stopped for lunch, enjoying the sun.
Fed and watered, we began the return journey. As we approached a bridge across the river, there was one guy with his family on the bridge who began ranting. From where I was all I could hear was something about how we should be ashamed of ourselves, and that this was a family track. One of our group was slightly further ahead and bore the brunt of the outburst, but as the offended man saw the rest of us approach, he quickly ushered his brood back across the bridge and into an area beside the path where he had them turn and face the bush while we all walked past. He made sure to count how many of us there were, and stood authoritatively and protectively in front of his family, but as he had his back to them, no doubt ready to defend their virtue from the woodland weirdos, he couldn’t see his kids smiling and his partner peeking at our group just to make sure that she really was affronted. He was outraged enough for the whole group, whether they were offended or not.
As we passed on and discussed the reaction to the outburst, some of us came up with things we wished we had said in response.
Perhaps it was better not to antagonise the offended man with reason, as he seemed unwilling to take criticism lightly. Maybe he would reflect later in the day after he had calmed down, but I doubt it.
One thing that was very apparent was the issue of safety in numbers. While the outburst would have happened anyway, it was far more muted than had the offended man come across a guy walking naked alone.
Often it is a male who will be protective of a vulnerable female, yet on this occasion, it was Emma, the one person wearing clothes, who felt quite protective of the men in our group.
Because she was clothed, she was removed from vulnerability and felt that it would have been easier to get involved. Emma does not embrace confrontation easily and didn’t say anything, but came very close to telling him that she would be prouder walking with the naked group than she would with his family.
Interestingly, he used the phrase that we “should be ashamed”. He has already taught his children to be ashamed of their bodies, something I am sure he is proud of.
The rest of the walk was uneventful, and the return journey seemed to pass much more quickly than the walk in. As we approached the end of the bush section and crossed the farmland towards the road, there was a clap of thunder in the distance, reminding us all of the forecasted showers.
When we got to the car park the first drops of rain started to fall, and within 10 minutes the rain was torrential. Our timing for the walk was spot on, we managed to get the best of the day’s weather and take part in a wonderful experience, with the one exception of Mr Grumpy on the bridge.
I shouldn’t complain, as without him there might not have been enough to write about.
Thank you for reading, have a comfortable day.