Day 58 – June 21st
Start: Sierra City, mile 1197
End: camp at mile 1221
Miles hiked: 25, with 1.5 mile road walk out of town
Yesterday was perfect. I ate 3 shakes, one corn dog, on giant chili dog, tons of chips, lots of trail food, and washed it down with several bottles of juice, some soda, some wine, and a few brews. I spent time swimming in the Yuba river down below the city with sheriff, Guthrie, Carrot, a nice girl named Kimchi we’ve been hiking on and off with since mammoth, and another girl we just passed yesterday, Pip. It was beautiful. Outside of food consumption and river swimming, we mostly lounged behind the church telling stories, napping, and laughing a lot. Everyone was in town; carrot, Guthrie, tiny, sheriff, coughee, bear claw, dirt monger, big sauce, milk jug, lead dog, Twigg, Will, snail trainer, smokes, caboose, 10-k, not a chance, Mack, wiki wiki, pip, kimchi, Jon, Zombie & Bambie (a young couple from Portland, 19 & 20 I believe. Bambie is the guy), and a few others as well. It was fantastic.
I wake up this morning late. Everyone wakes up late. There’s 20 plus camped behind the church on the lawn, and only coughee is up and out early. He’s always the first one out.
I pack up my stuff with the others as smokes and snail trainer, two older gentlemen, one from the UK, talk of their drunken times last night at the only bar in town. Smokes is at 3 cigarettes before the first story is even done! Very fitting name. He’s ex-military, and started the trail in mid February. He’s been through a lot on the trail, mostly snow. He likes taking his time, and really enjoying places. It’s awesome to see someone doing the trail so much differently than Us. Pretty much the opposite. Just goes to show there’s not just one way to do it. Nor is there a right or wrong way. Just maximize your fun, minimize your impact, and you’re doing it correctly.
I head off to the trail with carrot and Guthrie at 9. Coughee already ahead of us. We’ll never catch him, he’s so fast! The trail climbs over 3,000 feet in the first few miles out of highway 49. It’s not steep, so we cruise up. I
Chug a Mountain Dew at the bottom, so I literally run up. I’m a ways ahead of my friends, so I stop at a nice perch to enjoy the views of the valley below. I remember that it’s national hike naked day today, June 21st. We talked about it a bit yesterday in Sierra city. I really want to partake, as it’s a tradition for long distance hikers to hike naked on this day every year. Soon Guthrie and carrot catch up and sit with me on the rocks.
“I’m going to start hiking naked, I really want to.” I say to them
“Not yet, there’s still day hikers and we have to climb more. I might chafe.” Carrot replies.
“I ain’t hikin’ naked.” Says Guthrie, in his Texas accent.
Bummer. Looks like I’ll be hiking in the nude alone.
No more than 3 minutes later, big sauce strolls by, fully nude!
“What are you guys doing?! It’s hike NAKED day!”
“I’m joining you, wait for me!” I say
“Me too!” Carrot blurts out
“Nope.” Says Guthrie.
As we all strip, sheriff shows up.
“Hell yeah!” He says, as he takes off his pack to join our quest to make today a nudie day.
We all head off, hiking high above the trees and in the sun. A line of four of us, totally naked aside from our backpacks. We laugh a lot, and comment on how the wind feels, how we don’t like the bushes we have to hike through, and the how weird it is that we’re out here all hiking in the nude under the sun. We pass two day hikers, and wonder what to do. “Just hike past them.” I say. “We’re fine.” It’s two older ladies, and they smile awkwardly as we walk by.
“It’s hike naked day!” Carrot says to them as we pass
“Oh we know. Saw another man on his own not to far ahead hiking naked as well.
Sweet. Coughee must be ahead of us, totally rocking naked day on his own. That makes me laugh, thinking of him just walking around naked on his own, not giving two shits about who he passes. It’s hilarious, and perfect.
The four of us keep climbing, and carrot tells us that we’re about a mile and a half from a popular day hiking trailhead.
“Should we put our clothes back on?” Woody surveys the group.
“No way man, it’s hike naked day! They’ll love it!” Says big sauce. He’s so enthusiastic.
So we hike on, laughing, and taking some ridiculous pictures. Soon we see a couple hiking towards us. Day hikers, with an infant on the dad’s back. Somehow I get offered up as the front of our group. The rest in a line behind me. As they see that I’m fully nude, and the three others behind me are as well, the mother shows her approval by clapping.
“Right on!” Says the dad.
“National hike naked day” carrot responds.
“I love it!”
We start passing more and more day hikers. Some with younger kids, in which case we put our hats over our private parts to be respectful. The rest, well, we just keep hiking, greeting everyone as if there’s nothing out of the ordinary happening. After a while, we feel as there’s nothing out of the ordinary about what we’re doing. Most people look away and probably think we’re hippies on drugs. But we’re all totally sober. Just celebrating a thru-hiking holiday where clothing is unnecessary. It’s 50/50 on the reactions, but no one acts mad about the fact that were showing full frontal. I mean, we’re only hiking.
We pass the trailhead and hordes of people, stopping to take a picture with our butts at the Sierra buttes trailhead first service sign. Soon we’re on a paved road, with cars passing by. They look at us, then quickly look away, as if looking at us would be rude. We laugh at the way we believe people are reaching.
“That person is going to go home, call up their friends ‘you are not going to believe what I saw today while driving! Four hikers on the side of the road, all totally nude, letting everyone show'”
Before long we’re back on the trail, quiet as normal. It’s just us out here now, and it now feels totally normal to be naked. We quit talking about it, and it just becomes another day.
A few hours later we stop to get water near a dirt 4×4 road. We can hear gunshots in the direction of the trail ahead.
“Someone saw coughee naked and didn’t take to well to it.” Sheriff jokes.
We all laugh, as this clearly isn’t the case…
“I think we should put our clothes on.”
“Yeah, me too.”
We all nervously put our clothes back on. As we hike on we hear more gunshots. Turns out it’s just a bunch of guys in their 20’s enjoying their Saturday. They look normal, but I don’t know why they’re shooting a gun off so close to the trail, several times. We yell to them from below to alert them that there are hikers in the area. They stop shooting. Good thing we weren’t still naked, or that might not have gone so well.
I fall behind the group, as I’m taking pictures, sitting on rocks that look like good spots to sit, and enjoying the views on the constant ridges we traverse on top of. It’s beautiful. Will catches up to me, and I begin hiking with him, which means I’m hiking extremely fast. Will has been hiking on and off with our group since Tehachapi, and he’s always great to hike with. He’s English, and has done so much hiking in his life, yet he’s just
a year younger than I am. He hiked the Te Araroa in New Zealand a few years back. I pick his brain about this, and he tells me many great stories about the trail, only increasing my interest in doing this trail some day. We admire the beautiful scenery all around; high ridges, large lakes far below us, and endless green all around. We dip in and out of dense forests, with the trees covered in fluorescent green lichens. It’s beautiful. I tell him of our naked day, and he laughs at the thought of us passing all of the weekend day hikers he saw. It’s good to hike with Will, this guy is awesome.
At 7:00 we catch sheriff, carrot, and big sauce all settled in on a nice flat spot. We join them, cooking out dinners and laughing as we reflect on our ‘hike naked’ day. We sure made the most of it!