I'm not sure if the Vernon County Broadcaster is still reading this blog. (Remember, they wrote an article about what we do. The only web copy currently is on the La Crosse Tribune site. The "reports" they mention are here.)
I just wanted to let them know that we are STILL freehiking on public lands. With the awesome weather we've been having this year, there have been plenty of opportunities to hit the trails before turkey hunting season (April 11th). We've gone to the Kickapoo River Wildlife Area - Wauzeka Unit a few times.
The first trip, there were several trees over the trail. There were no other footprints in the muddy areas. (Lots of animal tracks though!) No bugs, no ticks. It looked like we were the first people on the trail since deer hunting season last fall. As usual, we met nobody on the trail. Closer to turkey season, a few of the trees were moved. The bugs were still low, but the ticks were in full force. I honestly don't know how the hunters can stand it -- it would be impossible to spot ticks on camouflage, and they could easily sneak up inside pant legs and bite in places they don't belong! On bare skin they are easy to spot, easy to feel, and easy to remove. They don't get very far.
From the article: "There is no county ordinance specifically against free hiking, but those who cause a disturbance could be cited for disorderly conduct." There were no citations issued this season, even though we DID disturb several flocks of ducks, many other birds, some squirrels, butterflies, and a pair of playful otters. (Animals are all very skittish in this area -- normally they only see people with weapons. I'd be skittish too!)
Naturism is more that just nudity -- we have full respect for nature and intend to keep it beautiful. On the last hike, we picked up trash along the trail, including about 25 shotgun shells, a handful of cigarette butts, and a few beer cans. We brought the trash bag home for disposal after taking the following picture...
For more information on freehiking, I suggest an article by Mark Storey originally published in N 15.4 (and available online here). In it is one of my favorite quotes on the subject. He challenges people to "hike clothed out to the middle of nowhere. When you get there leave all your clothes in a secluded spot and bravely walk naked 100 yards in any direction. By the time you return you will have had an epiphany that will change your life." I think he's right. But if anyone puts his hypothesis to the test, please add a comment to let me know how it goes.