WARNING: CONTAINS NUDITY – Rachael goes for 20km hikes in the countryside wearing nothing but her boots.
A naked hiker, who goes for 20km treks in the buff, has revealed how she took up the unusual activity during a ‘Yes Year’, in which she agreed to any undertaking as a way of coping with the break up from her fiance.
Rachael Fitzpatrick, 28, from Melbourne, Australia has been a hiking enthusiast since childhood, regularly going for long strolls in the outback, but it was not until she ended a six-year relationship with a man she had planned to marry that she started going for trips wearing nothing but her boots.
Now two years on from her first nude hike, when she stripped off with a friend as part of her resolution post-break up to saying “yes” to everything, Rachael, who is a digital specialist, sets off into the wilds for naked rambles every weekend.
And whether she is hiking alone or with friends, she makes sure to document her bare-bottomed exploits in the photos she posts on Instagram.
Explaining her enthusiasm for being naked in nature, Rachael, who is now an ambassador for the body positivity campaign Get Naked Australia, said: “It’s the feeling of total liberation that I love.
“The feeling of being completely free and close to nature – it’s just awesome.”
Currently happily single, Rachael says too that her unclothed outings were instrumental in helping her to overcome the sadness that followed the end of her relationship and helped her to regain her confidence.
“Going out into the big wide world and baring yourself totally can be a little daunting at first, but once you’ve gotten over that initial fear it is so rewarding.
“It really helped me to become more comfortable in my own skin and about who I am – and I know that I’m a much stronger person for it.”
But before her nude adventures began, at the start of 2017, Rachael’s treks had all been done fully clothed.
Having broken up with her fiance, with whom she shared a home and several dogs, in 2016, she decided that the only way to get over the relationship was to plunge headfirst into life and not turn down any opportunities that came her way – no matter how wacky.
As a result, she soon found herself going skydiving, learning to surf and travelling all over the world, but it was not until she was on a hiking holiday with her friend Mark Daniels, 28, in Perth, Australia in 2017, that she discovered her most enduring new hobby.
“We were on a very secluded 14km trail up in the hills,” she recalled, “and Mark was some way ahead of me.
“Then when I eventually caught up with him I found that he had taken all of his clothes off. ‘Come on,’ he said, ‘what are you waiting for?’ And so I took mine off too – and found that I loved it.”
From that moment on, Rachael caught the naked hiking bug and was out most weekends finding secluded rural routes near her home in Melbourne where she could disrobe and wander for hours without fear of coming across another person.
And her antics soon caught on with her friends – many of whom now join her – and even with her family.
“I will often go on my own, but usually there will be a friend who is around who wants to join, and of course they all know that the expectation is that they will be naked, which they have really taken to,” she said.
“I even go with my mum sometimes, although she doesn’t like the hiking part so much. So we’ll just find a spot somewhere and she’ll take off her clothes and we’ll relax for a while and maybe take a picture or two.”
Being in Australia, though, a country renowned both for its extreme temperatures in summer and array of poisonous creatures, there are certain precautions that she has to take before every walk.
She continued: “I obviously have to lotion myself up quite thoroughly because the sun can be really strong.
“And there is of course the danger too of snakes and spiders, with which I have had many encounters throughout the years I have been hiking.”
She added: “But for the most part they aren’t too much of a problem – though I know I am probably a bit too blase about it all.”
As for human encounters, Rachael says that so far they have all been happy meetings and she is yet to receive any negative feedback from fellow walkers who come across her in nothing but her hiking boots.
“Recently, I was up in Cairns on a trip and having been for a long naked hike decided to go for a skinny dip at this isolated little spot I know,” she recalled.
“The water started getting cold so I got dressed again and that’s when two older women in their 60s or 70s arrived,” she added.
“The elder sister approached me and said, ‘I don’t want to offend you but we’ve come here to go skinny dipping.’
“My eyes lit up and I laughed, telling them they’d run into the right person! After which we all then went skinny dipping together.”
Despite the positive reception and support that she’s received for her hobby, she still believes that there are lots of people in the world for whom the idea of stripping off in public would be unthinkable.
Speaking out in support of greater body confidence among men and women, Rachael hopes that the naked photos she posts of herself, taken either by friends or by using a self-timer on her camera-phone, will encourage others to join her and share the psychological benefits of being unclothed in nature.
“I came across a lady a few months ago who saw me strolling along naked and we got chatting about why I do it and how great it makes me feel,” she said.
She continued: “Then a couple of weeks later she sent me a picture of herself on a naked hike too, saying that I had inspired her – and that felt really great.
“Some people might think it’s a little strange to go wandering around naked all the time in public, but just from my experience alone it has been so helpful in making me a stronger, happier woman.
“And if it can be a help for other people too then I want to share that.”
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