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Another Reason to Visit Switzerland: Hiking in the Nude (March, 2009)

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Danee:
Baby, it's cold outside. But the early spring chill doesn't deter
Thomas B. from taking a brisk walk along Appenzell's hilly trails to
enjoy the green landscape of this rural canton in northeast
Switzerland.


There's a good reason why Thomas, 24, doesn't give out his last name:
he is concerned that his bosses at a nearby bank may not like his
unconventional hiking attire consisting of shoes, socks, a backpack —
and nothing else. Thomas isn't just some nature nut in a birthday suit
— he's one of a growing number of hikers who make the pilgrimage to
Appenzell specifically so they can trek in the nude.


Hiking in the buff might shock Thomas' bosses, as well as some of
Appenzell's 15,000 inhabitants, but it's no skin off his back. "Hiking
in clothes is too constrictive," he says, adding that he has never had
any negative reactions from the fully-clothed hikers he meets on the
trails. "I like to feel comfortable. There's nothing wrong with that,
is there?"


Fellow nude hiker Puistola Grottenpösch agrees, saying that the allure
of walking naked "is all about freedom." For the past three decades,
the 54-year-old engineer from Zurich has been unabashedly hiking in
the altogether, in all kinds of climatic conditions, with no incident.
"I wouldn't do this in Afghanistan," he concedes, but insists on his
right to walk naked on the trails of his own country, where public
nudity — as long as it is not lewd — is perfectly legal.


Why Appenzell, the second-smallest of Switzerland's 26 cantons, known
for its cheese and sturdy mountain dogs, became a nude hiking mecca is
the subject of some speculation. "It's probably because naked hikers
who had been here raved about their experiences on blogs, building
this area's reputation," says Veronique Kanel, a spokesperson for
Switzerland Tourism, the country's official tourist body. "We haven't
heard so far of a massive influx of naked hikers to other Swiss
regions, although I suspect that once in a while they also go outside
of Appenzell."


Kanel adds that although the tourist board does not "actively promote"
this particular activity, "in this kind of spectacular environment,
one can hardly resist the temptation to hike naked."


That's what the local authorities are afraid of. Having watched with
growing concern as groups of unclad walkers criss-cross the canton's
stunning mountain paths and cow-studded meadows, the government
decided that such practice is not compatible with the canton's
conservative ways. They have now drafted a law that would ban public
nudity, subjecting offenders to a $160 fine. The proposed legislation
will be submitted to a popular vote on April 26, during Appenzell's
annual Landsgemeinde, an open-air assembly in the town's picturesque
main square, where all eligible citizens vote, by show of hands, on
local laws and budget issues.


But even if accepted by the electorate, the law may prove difficult to
implement, says Daniel Kettiger, a legal expert on public
administration and management who has been following the Appenzell
debate. The proposed legislation, he points out, would prohibit
"misbehavior in public places" but not specifically target nudity, "so
its interpretation will be open-ended because a nude hiker is not
necessarily unruly."


To the authorities' argument that naked hiking should be banned
because it could be detrimental to children, Kettiger responds with
incredulity. "Oh, please. In this day and age when kids have access to
the Internet and where images of naked people are on every newsstand,
how can they be shocked?" he asks. "Is there really a child out there
who hasn't seen a naked person yet?"


Long-time naked hiker Grottenpösch says the possibility of a new penal
code (no pun intended) makes his flesh crawl. "Some people may see
nudity as indecent, but what harm does it do to public security and
order?" he asks, adding that he already convened about a dozen other
nude hiking aficionados to devise legal action. If the law passes, "we
will sue Appenzell," he says, vowing to take the case all the way to
the Federal Court — Switzerland's highest judicial authority.


Meanwhile, the brouhaha is bringing what some locals consider to be
unwelcome attention to the laid-back canton. Melchior Looser,
Appenzell's justice and police minister who spearheaded the proposed
legislation, didn't return TIME's request for an interview but told a
local newspaper that the sudden public interest in the naked hikers
issue is "absolutely ridiculous. I don't understand what all the fuss
is about."


Others look beyond the bare facts and see the silver lining. Reading
about nude hikers, says the tourist board's Kanel "is so much more fun
than reading about the Swiss banks."

From: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1886598,00.html





And, of course, a plug for the Swiss Naturist Union is in order! 
http://www.snu-uns.ch/

thepitcher:
id like to walk around mountains and little towns in the nude..i think the biggest problem is the cold, and then u can get hurt easily if u fall down.. anyway, id like a lot  :543 :3456

Pisco:
Give me a call if you're coming to Switzerland!!! :-)

mars1692:
Looks like fun, I would like to do that. :4345 :2345 :234567 :3456

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