National

Alaska's nude hikers face bugs, gravel, indecency charges, bears

It's hard to be surprised by what you find on Meetup.com, the online home for local groups of various stripes, from conservative constitutionalists to vegans to stroller moms to adult children of alcoholics. But a couple weeks ago, I came across a group that stood out from the rest: Alaska nude hikers.

They called themselves "Anchorage Naturists." They said they were "a low-key, non-sexual social group for naturist-minded Alaskans," a way for people to meet who liked to do things that were "simply more comfortable in the buff."

The group has nine members and a couple of hikes scheduled on local trails. They have a busy message board. A post announcing an upcoming hike suggests hikers meet at Carrs on Huffman and bring "a sack lunch, boots, and layers that might not be needed in the sun."

My head immediately filled with questions. The first one being: Really? In Alaska? It's barely warm enough for tank tops for much of the summer, let alone no tops? What about the bugs? What about devil's club?

I asked around to my hiker friends. Nude hiking? Some of them reported coming across white-skinned forms on the landscape -- a hiker with backpack, walking-stick, hat, socks, hiking boots and nothing else. My unscientific survey suggested the nudist hikers tended to be men. Friends said their trail encounters weren't really creepy, more just kind of awkward. The nude hikers tended to be very polite.

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