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food / travel

Backpacking In The Buff: Germany's New Hiking Trail For Naked Nature Lovers

Good news for people who like hiking – in their birthday suits! A nude-friendly trail in central Germany is now open for the season. Could Switzerland, a hiker’s paradise, open its natural spaces to naturists as well?

For some people, nature is best enjoyed buck naked
For some people, nature is best enjoyed buck naked
Norbert Raabe

When "Germany's first hiking trail for nudists' opened on May 29, 2010 near the town of Dankerode, enthusiasm was running high—and not just among those who enjoy braving nature in the buff. Mayor Monika Rauhut hailed the trail as "the latest attraction here in beautiful Wippertal."

The trail was an instant hit, which got us to wondering if such a thing might be a good idea in Switzerland, where the issue of nude hiking will soon be taken up by the Supreme Court. The "unofficial spokesperson"" for Swiss lovers of the outdoor activity isn't so sure. But Puistola Grottenpösch (not his real name) does see some upsides. A sanctioned trail would give many people an opportunity to experience the "bodily freedom"" that only hiking in the nude offers – an experience that ‘"fills you with happiness," he says.

In Germany, signs placed around the nude trail area warn: "If you don‘t want to run into any naked people, stop right here!" The message makes Grottenpösch uneasy. "It seems to suggest such a thing would be terrible," he says. "The sign could be taken as more of an encouragement than a deterrent." Nor does he like the idea that such a trail could be seen as a ‘"ghetto"" for nude hikers, particularly as such a thing might make people think "that it's obligatory to be clothed everywhere else.""

Grottenpösch recently appeared in court in Appenzell-Ausserrhoden to support a fellow nude hiker who was arrested for practicing the peculiar pastime.

The first year that the German trail – played up initially as a ‘"paradise‘‘ for nude hikers – was up and running, there were no legal problems. But there have been some red faces. The brains behind the endeavor is a nearby campground owner who had hoped the novel trail would bring him more paying guests. He no longer wishes his full name to be given in the press, reports German nude hiking aficionado Horst K. on the Nacktwandern.de website, which has provided information about the trail since it opened.

Integrating the naturist trail and the family-oriented camp site proved more difficult than anticipated for the owner, whose initial enthusiasm soon gave way to concern. Instead of trying to draw nude hikers as customers, he instead found himself telling them to give his campsite "a wide berth."

"Yes, there were some problems," Horst K. says. "But we cleared those up and now things are okay for both sides."" As things presently stand, the mood in Harz seems to be one of determined conflict avoidance.

Even among backers of the birthday-suit lifestyle, nude hiking can be a prickly issue. The president of the German naturists' association called naked hikers "neurotics and psychopaths." Fans of the activity, in both Germany and Switzerland, reject the labels flat out.

‘‘We are careful,‘‘ Puistola Grottenpösch explains, citing by way of example an outing he took near Toggenburg (Appenzell, Switzerland), where he came across a group of people celebrating a religious service in a field. Grottenpösch conscientiously hid his privates with a scarf, something he carries for just such occasions. "You quickly wrap it around yourself and all conflict is avoided.""

Read the original article in German

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Society

Parenthood And The Pressure Of Always Having To Be Doing Better

As a father myself, I'm now better able to understand the pressures my own dad faced. It's helped me face my own internal demands to constantly be more productive and do better.

Photo of a father with a son on his shoulders

Father and son in the streets of Madrid, Spain

Ignacio Pereyra*

-Essay-

When I was a child — I must have been around eight or so — whenever we headed with my mom and grandma to my aunt's country house in Don Torcuato, outside of Buenos Aires, there was the joy of summer plans. Spending the day outdoors, playing soccer in the field, being in the swimming pool and eating delicious food.

But when I focus on the moment, something like a painful thorn appears in the background: from the back window of the car I see my dad standing on the sidewalk waving us goodbye. Sometimes he would stay at home. “I have to work” was the line he used.

Maybe one of my older siblings would also stay behind with him, but I'm sure there were no children left around because we were all enthusiastic about going to my aunt’s. For a long time in his life, for my old man, those summer days must have been the closest he came to being alone, in silence (which he liked so much) and in calm, considering that he was the father of seven. But I can only see this and say it out loud today.

Over the years, the scene repeated itself: the destination changed — it could be a birthday or a family reunion. The thorn was no longer invisible but began to be uncomfortable as, being older, my interpretation of the events changed. When words were absent, I started to guess what might be happening — and we know how random guessing can be.

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