Wearing Nothing But A Big Smile

Published 3:05 pm Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Swiss don't only have holes in their cheese.

Some of them enjoy hiking naked through the snow-covered Alps.

Shiver me timbers.

Not even a loincloth.

Talk about goose bumps.

A pair of boots is their entire hiking wardrobe but they may soon be forced by law to wear something more than shoelaces and the soles of their boots.

The highest court in Switzerland, confronting the naked truth, decreed that localities could fine nude hikers, stripping away and undressing an appeal by a man who hiked naked past an area set aside for family picnics and adjacent to a Christian rehab center for drug users.

No, there is not a thread of evidence that the pantaloon-free hiker was heading toward the rehab center to provide them with two weeks of business.

Here's a skinny dip into the facts: news reports indicate nudist hikers could be looking for other nations with a friendlier attitude toward naked hiking.

Let's hope that means Italy and France and that they don't show up on High Bridge Trail State Park. The Heart of Virginia doesn't need the reputation as a sanctuary for refugee Swiss hiking-in-the-buff buffs.

Farmville's streetscaping of Main Street is sufficient and we don't require another ICE (Indefensible Costume Enforcement) facility.

Trying to see this issue through their eyes-without looking in the mirror-one suggests that those who feel the naked hiking compulsion may want to do so in the comfort of their own homes. There are a variety of television shows about the great outdoors and one can watch these while walking in place, or walking about the den, in whatever state of dress or disrobement one wishes.

Doing so will satisfy inner compulsions while adhering to social norms.

Nor am I being over critical of Swiss misses and misters who like nothing more than to walk naked through the mountains wearing just a big smile on their face and a loud song on their lips as they brave the snowy Alps.

“Val-deri! Val-dera! Val-dera-ha-ha-ha-ha-achooo!!”

Happy wanderers, one and all. A knapsack, and nothing else, on their back.

But the Swiss do not bare the entire burden.

My wife and I have experienced nude hiking right here in The Old Dominion-not as participants but as very innocent bystanders.

The two of us head to the mountains to get away from it all but we can do so quite satisfactorily without getting away from all of our clothes as well.

A few years ago we were hiking a portion of the Appalachian Trail on the summer solstice and what to our wondering eyes should appear but a man wearing nothing more than a primitive loincloth and a grin, heading toward us from the opposite direction.

We made as much room for him as we could and spoke loudly of the lentil crop in Sri Lanka.

“Hike naked on the summer solstice,” he declared, as if he were Santa wishing everyone a merry Christmas.

And then he was behind us.

Unfortunately, there was no loincloth bringing up the rear.

No, these are not the images one hopes to burn in the mind's-eye while hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

Nor along High Bridge Trail State Park.

“It is not overly high-handed to qualify naked hiking as a breach of decency customs,” the Swiss high court declared, according to BBC accounts.

Breeches, not breaches, should be the order of the day.