Knocked off her feet after twenty years in public health nursing, Iris Graville quit her job and convinced her husband and their thirteen-year-old twins to move to Stehekin, a remote mountain village in Washington State’s North Cascades. They sought adventure; she yearned for the solitude of this community of eighty-five residents accessible only by boat, float plane, or hiking. Hiking Naked chronicles Graville’s journey through questions about work and calling as well as how she coped with ordering groceries by mail, black bears outside her kitchen window, a forest fire that threatened the valley, and a flood that left the family stranded for three days.
It is an unusually sunny and warm day in mid-spring, and my spouse Nick and I are out on a state park trail near our home, enjoying the mild conditions after a long, cold Minnesota winter. The air is laced with the subtle scent of blossoms, and a gentle breeze is inviting us to walk slowly and savor the moments as they unfold. We aren’t in a hurry. We aren’t feeling anxious or in need of anything. And then we come around the bend and see a naked man standing knee-deep in what is usually a dry creek bed, bathing. This year, due to a winter of above average snowfall, the creek is full to the brim with cold, clear water. He doesn’t see us, and we hightail it backwards until he’s out of view, wait ten minutes, and then I make Nick check to see if he’s got any clothes on yet. He does and we continue on the trail, smiling hello as we pass. I still wonder if we or he would have been more uncomfortable had we announced our presence. At any rate, I hope he had a refreshing dip, and I admire his courage to do what felt good at the time. I have a feeling he doesn’t regret his decision to bathe in the creek that day. Continue reading “Hiking Naked”