By: Stephen Bosbach
This is an overview and critique of the 2018 Hiking Oregon Naturally Annual Tour. My hope is that others will follow some of these ideas and create their own natural hiking tour in their area. To that end, I’d like to share some of the things that worked, and some that didn’t.
As a backdrop, my wife Crystal and I participated in the 2016 NEWT, or Nude European Walking Tour. The NEWT has been going on for 13 years now (see nactiv.net), and this gave us a framework of ideas to use in developing a similar event in the United States. This is the second year of hosting the HONAT, with a number of folks returning from last year to do it again. We must be doing something right!
We scheduled the HONAT to cover five days of hiking, with two days on a weekend. I tried to provide for those who could only get the weekend off, and allowed participation from one to five days. This involved more hikers, as we had 16 on one or more days for the event, but it created a headache in finance and logistics. Last year we required everyone to participate for the entire five days for one set fee, as does the NEWT. The landed nudist club we used as a base provided full service for the entire five days, also for one set fee. This made it simple to keep track of finances and a greater connection between members of the group, but it was a financial pinch for some who couldn’t stay for the entire five days.
The other side of scheduling the event is how busy the trails are, and weekends within driving distance of a major metro areas mean busy trails. There are smaller, out-of-the-way trails, but they don’t rate five stars on the rating charts. To provide a great hiking experience and get away from the crowds, the event would need to be staged far away from major cities (limiting participation), or hike during the week when trail traffic is minimal. For the NEWT in Austria, a chalet was rented far from the city population, and hiking was done during the week. The weekend could thus be used for transportation to and from the event. Next year we will try something more in line with NEWT. By securing a cabin or shared camp spot closer to great hiking, the group spends more time on the trail and less time in the car getting to the trailhead.
More planning needs to go into the HONAT to make it an enjoyable experience. Last year Cris and I walked each trail we intended to use, and picked among those that best fit the event. This year I was pressed for time (and far away) and didn’t do the personal reconnaissance, leaving it to others with experience in the area to provide information about the trails. This led to some surprises and issues with more clothed hikers than expected on the trail.
We also need to vet our participants more thoroughly for physical capability to do the hikes anticipated. All participants need to be physically capable of hiking a minimum of five miles in moderate terrain, and be able to do this on successive days. Our hikes have a variety of difficulty levels, from moderate river hikes to challenging peak climbs. Our longest hike this year was just over nine miles with about 1000 feet of elevation gain, but 2000-plus feet of elevation gain is not uncommon.
Memorable experiences from the HONAT for 2018 include the first day hike and finding the trailhead parking lot nearly full. We hiked anyway on a coastal old growth headland trail that was much more challenging than I remembered, due to recent erosion and a significant increase in hiker traffic when trailhead parking was developed. We hiked up out of the coastal fog bank into the sunshine, 800 feet above the waves.
Also memorable was hiking a steep mountain trail and watching a single male hiker jog past on his way to a speed record accent. We met him at the top, and, after chatting about hiking trips, he agreed to take photos of the group.
On one day, some clothed hikers caught up to us on a shorter, out-of-the-way hike. They seemed not to mind our nude company, and hiked with us for a short distance as we conversed.There was one incident on the busy coastal trail where a family turned away and did not engage us in conversation. Out of maybe a dozen encounters with clothed hikers over the HONAT, this was the only one with which we did not have a friendly exchange.
Each year is a new experience,and by paying attention to what works the experience gets better for al linvolved. We hope to see more hikers participating in the HONAT next year when we tackle yet another part of Oregon’s picturesque back country.
For more information on the Hiking OregonNaturally Annual Tour, visit MeetUp.com/Siskiyou-Hiking-Bares. N