Summer Solstice Brings Hiking Holiday
It seems the small Swiss state of Appenzell Inner Rhodes is under assault by naked Germans. Wearing just socks and hiking boots, Germans have been crossing the boarder to enjoy the sweeping natural beauty of the Swiss Alps, but leaving their clothing behind.
It doesn’t appear that the hills are alive with naked Germans, but apparently there are enough of them to force Appanzell Inner Rhodes this spring to impose what equates to roughly a $175 fine on anyone caught prancing, dancing, skipping through or just hiking the Alps within their jurisdiction without the benefit of clothes.
It appears the trend toward naked hiking is spreading and lawmakers in neighboring Appenzell Outer Rhodes are preparing similar legislation against “this shameless behaviour.”
Perhaps the Swiss could learn something from hikers here in the United States. The Summer Solstice brings a pretty important “holiday” to the hiking world. June 21st is “Naked Hiking Day, “a well-known holiday of sorts for hikers which some see as a chance to get out into the woods amidst nature and experience the freedom traipsing through the hills without clothes can bring. Of course there are still mosquito’s, black flies, poison ivy, thorns, sticks and ticks to worry about, and a naked hiker could run into a bit of trouble if he or she stumbled upon a forest ranger while prancing merrily down the trail.
The holiday is enjoyed mostly among Appalachian Trail hikers, who having begun their 2,160 mile trek to Maine from Georgia probably in March are about ready for anything to break-up the trip.
The Swiss argue that they are trying to protect their children from the immoral habits of these nude wanderers. There have probably been a few shocked shepherd’s tending their flocks along an alpine ridge or two that did a double take upon encountering a happy band of naked hikers. I don’t think we’re talking about Julie Andrews on a hillside in “The Sound of Music” with naked people dancing by, or Heidi coming out the front door of her alpine mountainside home encountering a band of naked Germans trying to find the trailhead.
“We simply try to tune into nature,” a boots only German hiking lawyer, who was sad to hear of the Swiss changes told a London newspaper. “It’s the most harmless pursuit possible.”
It might be traumatizing to Julie Andrews or Heidi. On the other hand it might serve to break up the day nicely for the lone shepherd.
But the Swiss don’t see naked hiking as harmless.
“We have been receiving many complaints,” Markus Dörig, a spokesman for the government of the Appenzell Innerrhoden canton said. “The local people are upset and we in the government share their concern. How would one feel if one was to go walking in nature and suddenly came across a group of naked people?”
Good question Markus, how would one feel?
“(It’s a) public nuisance,” Mr. Dorig added. “(It is) a foreign import. (The naked hikers) are definitely not people from the area, and I think many of them come from Germany.”
Those crazy Germans again.
The Appalachian Trail, which for the most part is off the beaten path, will be lined with naked hikers Sunday as they celebrate their hiking holiday. There is a very good chance that closer to home, especially in the White Mountains, you could find hikers enjoying the holiday as well, weather permitting.
Oh, and the Swiss authorities expect the hiker caught without their jockies to pay up on the spot. That could present a problem without pockets in which to carry your cash. Hint to naked Germans crossing the Swiss border; stuff cash in your socks. In the event a band of wandering nudists fails to pay the fine, the Swiss promise tough legal action.
All this from a country that waited until 1971 to give women the vote.
And for those who missed “World Naked Gardening Day” back on May 2, well, maybe that’s a good thing, what with power mowers, electric hedge trimmers and weed whackers. Ouch!
The views and opinions in the Enterprise blogs are those of the author and are not neccessarily shared by Falmouth Publishing.