"If you go out in the woods today, you're in for a big surprise!" It isn't the Teddy Bears' Picnic, it's the bares enjoying the unofficial annual Naked Hiking Day, observed on June 21, the day of the Summer Solstice. This year, it is also Father's Day, and that is leading to concerns about clothed families encountering naked hikers.
Walking guru Colin Fletcher called this his "Second Law of Thermodynamic Walking -- give your b***s some air." He enjoyed hiking naked through the Grand Canyon and along the Pacific Crest Trail on hot days.
In many jurisdictions, it is not illegal to be naked in public if your intent is simply to be naked and not to incite or satisfy sexual arousal. In other jurisdictions, hiking naked can get you a trip to the slammer. If you plan to go naked in the wilderness, know the local laws and seek out places where you are unlikely to encounter others who are not like-minded.
What should you do if you encounter somebody hiking naked? Usually you can tell the difference between nudists and obscene exhibitionists. If they are obviously just out hiking and enjoying nature au naturel, just proceed as usual. If they aren't bothering you or others, and it is legal in your jurisdiction, let them enjoy the sun.
If they are exhibiting signs that they are in fact perpetrators of indecent exposure, depart their vicinity as fast as possible and call the police, according to Pamela Kulbarsh, RN MSW and Psychiatric Emergency Response Team leader in southern California. Verbalizing, gesturing, touching themselves, etc. are obvious signs of this criminal behavior. Most such criminal exhibitionists are not dangerous, but some progress to accosting and even assaulting others. They need to be reported. More on indecent exposure
There are gray areas between the harmless nudist and the dangerous exhibitionist. If you don't want to be misunderstood, you may have to limit your sun-worshipping to clothing-optional designated areas. Naked hikers face increased exposure to:
Photo © Wendy Bumgardner