John Winkelman

John Winkelman

My email inbox fills up pretty quickly. Actually, I have three different addresses that I keep tabs on for different reasons, and they’re all well used.

Electronic mail is often maligned, but I think it’s a handy communication tool for many reasons.

My outdoor writer guy account gets many unsolicited pitches for story ideas every day. Sometimes I filter through them hastily. While I always appreciate reader feedback, the press releases about the latest gadgets, gizmos and must-have hunting or fishing tricks have to work pretty hard to catch my attention.

Then I came across an email titled “Naked Hiking Day 2019” and I decided I’d read more.

Depending on your perspective, you may be sad to know you missed it for this year. The press release did not mention any Jefferson County locations, but it did offer polling data that suggested three-fourths of Americans would not reject the concept outright.

The statistics may be a bit biased, based on the blog source that collected and cites them. Effortless Outdoors even went as far as extrapolating the data from their 1,505 poll participants to conclude that 35 million Americans thought the idea of hiking through the woods in their birthday suits “sounds like fun.”

While I am not certain how I might have answered the multiple-choice question, I am confident that I wouldn’t be comfortable in the woods or anywhere wearing just hiking boots and socks. (At least I don’t think they were suggesting that participants should be barefoot in the woods.)

Backing up just a bit, National Naked Hiking Day is observed on June 21, the summer solstice. Bertie Cowen, chief exectutive officer of Effortless Outdoors, estimated that about 1,000 people would have been out last Friday participating in the activity.

According to the press release, the poll included four possible answers to its question, which was: June 21 is “Naked Hiking Day.” Which of the following statements best describes your attitude toward naked hiking:

1. It’s fine. I have no problem with it.

2. It should only be allowed in specific places.

3. It shouldn’t be allowed anywhere.

4. It sounds like fun! 

While 24 percent of those polled said it shouldn’t be allowed anywhere and 30 percent suggested it should be limited to specific places, 31 percent called it fine and 14 percent thought it fun.

Cowen offered specific suggestions to those who might be inspired to walk on the wild side, so to speak.

“The most essential things to carry are a cover-up in case you come across non-naked hikers, particularly family, SPF and of course, lots of water,” he said. “I would recommend taking more insect repellent than usual, too.”

Other tips offered in the press release include hiking in a group, using trails that are less busy, sticking to lands where nudity is not illegal, having clothes handy for trailheads and road crossings and smiling and saying hello when you encounter other hikers.

It didn’t offer suggestions for hikers attired in traditional apparel who happen upon a group in the buff, but I’ll offer one: Be bare aware.

The press release was a promotion for the Effortless Outdoors website, which claims it aims to help remove the difficulty and confusion of back country hiking, camping and other outdoors activities.

I did take the click bait and check the website, where I found a lot of interesting information beyond the survey story. Most of the content was product promotion, but for those who enjoy minimalist outdoor activities, the site contains a significant collection of usable reviews, tips and tricks.

Forced to pick a survey answer, I would probably expose my prudishness and pick “shouldn’t be allowed” on public property.

I wonder what percentages of Leader readers would pick which of the four choices. If you have an opinion or suggestions for other story ideas, I’d love to hear from you at ogmjohnw@aol.com I’ll be happy to get even more email. 

John J. Winkelman is community engagement manager at Mercy Hospital Jefferson. If you have news for the Leader’s Outdoor News page, e-mail ogmjohnw@aol.com and you can follow John on Twitter at @johnjwink99.

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