No Rules, Just Nature

There had been some rain since the heat wave and the Skunk River was higher than it had been the last time I took my tent out for some naked camping, so I was expecting to see a few voyagers come by.

The first group was three young men floating in tubes—college age or maybe high school.

One of them greeted me as I sat cross-legged on the sand near the edge of the water: “Hello!”

“Hi,” I replied. “Nice day to be on the river, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, it’s great. How far is it to Soper’s Mill?” (That would be their take-out point.)

“About a mile, maybe a little less,” I answered. “Where’d you put in at?”

“E-18 Access—130th Street.” Then he saw my sleeping bag and air mattress on the bank. (I hadn’t put up the tent yet.) “Are you camping out here?”

“Yeah. I like to come out here alone—no dress code.”

“No rules, just nature?”

“Yep. Have a nice trip.”

“Thanks. You have a good time too,” he said as they floated away.

The second group was a trio of middle-aged men, each in his own canoe. The lead man and I exchanged perfunctory greetings, perhaps before he could see that I was naked. The other two men gazed stonily forward down the river as they passed. Evidently they disapproved of nudity.

It’s usually one in every group who does all the talking. But at least in the first group, the silent ones looked in my direction while their friend and I conversed. You don’t have to say anything to show approval or disapproval.