Recently my local newspaper printed a brief article about Germans hikers who have scandalized their Swiss neighbors by hiking the Alps wearing only backpacks and boots. This was followed by a lengthier piece, “Nude in the News,” by my favorite Daily Press columnist, Tony Gabriele.
Tony researched this practice and learned it is called freikorperkultur, literally translated as “free body culture” or more accurately “let it all hang out.” He advised readers to “invest in German sun block lotion companies.” Tony proceeded to reduce me to giggles by discussing the history of nude warfare and potential political results of future attempts. However, he missed some vital complications to nude hiking.
While Tony mentioned the sun block issue, he did not address the problem that, for most of us, certain body parts have not been exposed to fresh air and sunshine since, well, ever. Oh, wait; my mother once explained the old-fashioned method for healing diaper rash.
Those of us whose ages are north of 50 have body parts that are not creeping, but rushing quickly, - toward the Equator. But this is just a matter of pride. I want to talk about more serious problems. Shall I enumerate them?
1. We live in an area where mosquitoes rule the world.
So, do we invest in buckets of insect repellant or risk lumps on our rumps?
If we go for the risk, how do we explain to our co-workers that we are scratching body parts that are not, shall we say, socially acceptable?
If we choose the other route - other questions arise. Do sun-block and insect repellant work together? And, how can we feel confident greeting other hikers when we reek of “eau de yuck.”
2. Ticks may cause another big problem. People who work outside tell us to wear our pants tucked into our socks to keep those miniscule critters from migrating to warm body areas. Hmmm???? If we are letting it all hang out - what do we tuck in where? Once we’ve contracted Lyme disease - imagine our physician’s face when we bare the classic target rings.
3. Lunch time? When out in the woods, most people tend to take their lunch breaks while sitting on fallen logs or tree stumps. What lives in fallen logs and tree stumps? All sorts of tiny and not so tiny creatures.
4. We are all familiar with the office-mate who is Johnny-on-the-spot whenever cookies cross the threshold. This person is a slow poke when compared to an ant looking for a picnic. `Imagine the ant’s path as it climbs, by the shortest route to the crumbs on our chests.
5. Weather is another issue. Do sweat bands work effectively when perspiration is rushing down our backs and fronts to puddle in our boots? Does that much moisture in our boots cause blisters?
6. On the other hand, being from Wisconsin, I’ve known many serious winter campers. Well, we all know what happens to our various appendages in cold weather. Not a proud site to greet another hiker. This could also lead to another trip to the doctor to explain a frost-bitten whatever.
On a balmy, late spring day before the mosquitoes buzz, this hobby sounds appealing. I might be tempted to join the fun. But two things stop me. I wouldn’t want a lump on my rump - or a tick on -- whatever.
© by Sharon Dillon, May 6, 2009