June 21 marks the first day of summer. Words like scorching, sweating, sweltering, and sunburn are part of our daily conversations. It’s time to get away, preferably someplace quiet and cool. Maybe a short hike through the woods to a secluded spot. You’re not picky, but a nearby waterfall spilling into a refreshing pool would be nice.
If you’re heading outdoors to get away from the craziness and chaos and heat, you might be in for a surprise. June 21 is International Yoga Day AND Hike Naked Day.
International Yoga Day?
Yoga has been a popular form of exercise, meditation and relaxation for a long time, so I can understand why people would want to dedicate a day to Yoga-ing. I’m not one of them, but I get it. I’ve spent years unintentionally practicing the corpse pose. However, others are more difficult. Mastering contortions like the Half Moon pose requires an enviable level of ankle and leg strength. The Cow-Face pose demands so much flexibility, Gumby would need to loosen up first.
Even people like me who lack the flexibility and patience to give yoga a serious try can enjoy it. Within a few minutes of watching a crowd of motivated people assume the Downward-Facing Dog pose, I was convinced of yoga’s potential as a spectator sport.
Hike Naked Day?
Yes. It’s really a thing.
Until last year, I would have chalked this up as another hiker’s urban myth, like “the Appalachian Trail in Virginia is flat,” or “it’s possible to hike the White Mountains in New Hampshire without thinking you’re gonna die at least once.” Now I know, it’s not only a recognized means of celebrating the new season, it’s actually an Appalachian Trail Tradition.
Who would want to hike naked? Probably not a sane person. In polite society, I’ve heard that public nakedness is frowned upon. In the city, it’s called public indecency, and there are apparently fines. However, out in the woods, the rules are a bit different. Nonconformity is the norm, nature is a traveling companion, and adventure is a career choice.
This is probably good advice for most situations; however, it’s particularly relevant for June 21. In the interest of efficiency, multitaskers make bizarre combinations, some with unexpected consequences. Drinking Jack Daniel’s while writing, eating chili while watching Orange is the New Black, and chewing gum while walking are a few examples of multitasking that just don’t work. I shudder to imagine what a multitasker would do if they tried to celebrate International Yoga day and Hike Naked Day at the same time. Even if we ignored likely rug burns and muscle sprains, the psychological trauma perpetrated on unsuspecting hikers hoping for a brief reprieve in nature is just too high.
I don’t have the expertise to make recommendations about ways to celebrate International Yoga Day (aside from keeping it COMPLETELY separate from Hike Naked Day). However, I can offer a few words of caution for those that might want to join Hiked Naked Day:
- Summer means bug season. Bugs are perfectly content to swarm our mouth and ears and nose, but any hiker that willingly exposes their otherwise protected nether regions is opening a glorious new bug buffet. It’s All-You-Can-Eat, and not the good kind.
- Stripping off sweat-soaked shirts and shorts feels wonderful at first. The wisp of breeze you didn’t even notice before now feels like air-conditioning. The small of your back is dry for the first time in weeks. That not-so-fresh odor that makes city-slicker’s eyes water is gone, leading you to suspect it really was just your clothes after all. But this also means the sun finally gets to visit those places the sun don’t shine. Slather up those sun-shy spots with plenty of sunscreen. A sunburned ass is no laughing matter.
- If you’re going to celebrate Hike Naked Day as a team sport, make sure everyone knows the rules. Everyone in the group needs to clearly communicate their boundaries. This means no surprise sword fights, flashing tourists, or flash photography.
- Even if you’re celebrating Hike Naked Day as a “team” sport with your hiking buddies, it’s not a spectator sport. The Trails will be busy with families, day-hikers, and section-hikers. Aunt Bea or little Peggy Sue don’t need to see you in your birthday suit. Put those sweaty, smelly clothes back on if you’re near a trail head or town.
- What happens on Hiked Naked Day, stays on Hiked Naked Day. It’s perfectly reasonable to make fun of the physiologic effects the cold pond had on your hiking buddy, but it’s poor form to bring it back up again weeks later when you’re back in the real world.
Hike Naked Day is a brief time to shed the constraints of civilization, to celebrate the coming of summer, and for those like me who are pathologically introverted, a challenge to proudly (but privately) shed the façade that I use to separate myself from the world.
However you choose to celebrate the first day of summer, I hope it marks the beginning of a wonderful new season!
Update: A friend on Facebook kindly reminded me that today is also National Selfie Day. I feel like the “Special Day” people are really starting to get their act together.