Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why Hike Naked?

"For people who have already experienced an entirely natural walk in the woods, the question, "Why hike without any clothes on?", is easily answered. . . Clothing is just a mask . . . By wearing clothing in the wilderness we're staying in the car and looking out the glass. We aren't experiencing our animal nature directly. Wearing a bathing suit in the middle of nowhere when nobody else is around is what I call the 'civilization reflex'. By wearing clothes, you deny that your body is part of the natural environment, and you can't hack pure nature. . . There are two ways that clothing conflicts with our experience of nature. The first way is the fact that an anchor of civilization (otherwise known as 'civilization infrastructure') has come with us into the wild. Clothing isn't always critical gear . . . It allows the wearer to separate himself from the natural state of wilderness. What makes wilderness natural is the fact that you are immersed in the natural world. Once you put clothing on in a deep woods spot, you aren't part of the wilderness anymore, you are in direct touch with civilization. You are wearing a mask that protects you not just physically, but also mentally from the wilderness. Hence, through your actions you have broken the idea of wilderness and cannot experience it directly. It's as though you're sitting in a car, eating a burger, and drinking a coke while parked at a scenic overlook and looking out the window at the scenery. . . second and more important . . . When you elect to wear clothing when unnecessary in the environment, you unwittingly tell the world (and yourself in a subliminal way) that a sense of nature is a problem for you that you need to overcome. The natural world as it exists isn't really what you like and you need to counter nature's reality by introducing something to shield and comfort - and this is the important part - not your body, but your mind. This is a kind of sabotage of the direct experience - like the bars on the cages at a zoo. . . Getting out for a walk and a little recreation is great, but shouldn't we be trying to get more out of our experience in nature? To go higher and entertain greater goals? I like my walks to be a more sophisticated venture where the type of recreation and its effect both mentally, spiritually, and environmentally are considered in order to produce an outcome. I like my walks to take me somewhere special, not just out and back again through some kind of tree museum. To have a full understanding of nature and your part in it, you have to understand that it is there for much more than just recreation. It is, in fact, your natural habitat. The habitat of the animal of man. . . NO, I don't expect you to go exposing yourself all over the countryside. . . Some discretion is warranted . . . You must use some sense in all of this and understand what you're reaching for." - Shane -

I couldn't agree more!


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