The ultimate light hiker.
01/29/2009 01:20 PM
TREKKING IN THE BUFF
Switzerland Plans to Fine Naked Hikers
Some hikers prefer to enjoy mountain vistas in nothing but a pair of sensible walking boots. But naked hiking may soon become a costly hobby: A Swiss canton wants to saddle those hiking au naturel with a hefty fine.
Hikers in their birthday suits have taken their hobby across Europe. Here, celebrity naked rambler Stephen Gough arrives at John o' Groats in Scotland.
Climbers in the Swiss Alps last autumn were confronted with more than just stunning mountain panoramas. A group of nudist climbers were enjoying the fresh air, much to the surprise of their fully clad counterparts.
But their antics riled the authorities in the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden, who now aim to stamp out the fledgling trend. If a law proposed on Wednesday is passed, those found trekking in the nude will be fined 200 Swiss francs (about €135) starting this year.
Melchior Looser, justice minister in the scenic northeastern canton, pressed for new measures to deter those with a taste for au naturel walks. "We have do something to prevent this objectionable behavior before the weather gets warm again," he said. "After all, children also spend time in the mountains in the summer."
He complained that, although local police detained a naked hiker last autumn, he could not be fined as rambling in the nude was not covered by any law. Last year's minimally-clad climbers were inspired by a Web site touting the region as a paradise for naked hikers, news reports said.
Those preferring to trek in the buff get a more welcome reception elsewhere in the German-speaking world. In the central German Harz mountain range, two villages put themselves on the map last year by advocating special routes through their forested slopes as an ideal stomping ground for naked hikers.
And the practice of "FKK" (which stands for "free body culture") is a serious pursuit in Germany. Nudism was already popular at the beginning of the 20th century and enjoyed a heyday in the 1920s, but was later suppressed by the Nazis. It regained popularity after the war, especially in the communist East Germany. Since reunification, German FKK fans of all ages sunbathe in the nude as well as partaking in naked sports ranging from canoeing to horseriding.
jas -- with wire reports