I love this county for all the unique characters that call this place home. When I am walking around I like to people watch, and I wonder if I will ever get to a place where I am not surprised anymore. I recently had an experience on the trail that emphatically answered that question with a resounding “no”.
Independence Trail East is a beautiful stretch of wilderness that is a pleasure to walk. This trail is available to residents of planet Earth because of two great organizations. California State Parks and Bear Yuba Land Trust own and manage different sections of the trail. It is a patchwork quilt woven together with threads of thick vegetation, scenic views and historical significance. When one is hiking out there, one would have no idea if you are on State Park or BYLT property. We work collaboratively with State Parks and recently I went out to brush the trail.
It was a glorious August morning and I had no idea what I was in for. I went out early to walk the trail and see what kind of shape it was in. For the most part I was pleased with the state of the trail. There was not much trash or dog waste, and minimal drainage issues to address. I hiked about a mile and a half, brushing and inspecting, and then decided to turn around and head back. On my walk back I passed one woman who was out using the trail for her morning nature experience. We exchanged pleasantries and I was on my way. The next person I came across was a naked guy running right toward me. Well, to be clear he did have a hat on and socks and shoes. I was shocked! I didn’t know what to say or where to look for that matter. I was flabbergasted and at a loss for words. He had a smile on his face as he ran by swinging to the left and to the right.
My next thought was of the woman that I passed earlier. I immediately thought of the interaction that would be taking place in about 5 minutes a little further down the trail behind me. I am compassionate and I am able to empathize with my fellow human. I thought about the woman and how it could be a very uncomfortable situation for her.
As I made it back to the parking lot with a wry smile on my face I saw two ladies each with a dog gearing up to go for a nature walk. I thought, “Please hike east, please hike east.” Talk about another uncomfortable interaction! I instantly got an image in my head of poorly behaved dogs jumping up onto the naked guy, and chuckled to myself.
In all seriousness, when we hike we need to be wearing proper attire. Trail users need to protect themselves from poison oak and blackberries with long sleeves and pants. One should wear sunscreen and bring water and a snack. It is also good to wear a hat and shoes and socks. Oh yeah, and don’t forget your pants!
– Trails Coordinator, Shaun Clarke