Are you ready to moon the moon? Imagine walking nude on parkland in the East Bay Hills, with the trail silhouetted by a full moon and small herds of horses coming up to greet you: it's a scene that makes you feel like you're on Avatar's fictional planet Pandora, mingling with another species.
"It's absolutely surreal," says Jurek Zarzycki of Fremont. "The horses come within inches of you, so close you can feel their breath. It's like being on a moonscape with aliens. You may be a little afraid at first, but the horses are very friendly."
As part of a partnership between the Sequoians nudist park and the San Jose-based Bay Area Naturists, Hikers leave the Sequoians' property fully clothed at dusk and walk through meadows and up hills until the moon rises, before heading back down the slopes completely nude, with their clothes folded neatly into their backpacks. Some people walk partially nude, especially near the top of the main ridge used by the hikers where, says Zarzycki, "there can be very cold winds." San Leandro resident Dave Smith, who leads the naked treks, adds that "the coastal air just starts pouring over the hilltop. And the wind begins howling." Once on the peak, almost everyone dons a windbreaker.
Zarzycki suggests hikers bring good hiking shoes, a flashlight — though most of the time, the moon provides plenty of light — and bug spray. And don't forget baby carrots to give to the horses. "It's truly wonderful," says Smith. "We're usually the only ones on the path."
Zarzycki agrees. "It's one of the best experiences I've ever had. I pitched my tent right there at the Sequoians and then slept under the sky."
After the walk, most hikers shower at the Sequoians, then take a dip in the pool or hot tub.
Directions: Contact the Sequoians (www.sequoians.com) or the Bay Area Naturists (www.bayareanaturists.org) for details on how to join a walk. Meet at the Sequoians park. To get there, take Highway 580 east to the Crow Canyon Road exit. Or follow 580 west to the first Castro Valley off-ramp. Take Crow Canyon Road toward San Ramon three-quarters of a mile to Cull Canyon Road. Then follow Cull Canyon about 6.5 miles to the end of the paved road. Take the dirt road on the right until the Y in the road and keep left. Shortly after, you'll see the Sequoians sign. Proceed for another three-quarters mile to the Sequoians front gate.
SAN MATEO COUNTY
DEVIL'S SLIDE, MONTARA
Though it's one of 70 beaches and parks being closed by the state to save money, Gray Whale Cove is set to remain available for use through at least July 2012. (But days and hours may be reduced according to Roy Stearns, deputy director of communications of the California State Parks.) Today only a few visitors go nude: naturist numbers are down sharply form the several hundred that came during Devil Slide's heyday as a privately operated nude beach. The nudists that do come tend to hang out on the pretty northern end of the shoreline. "It's a good place to recharge from work," says Ron, a regular visitor who enjoys swimming there, even though signs warn of dangerous surf. Dogs are prohibited.
Directions: Driving from San Francisco, take Highway 1 south through Pacifica. Three miles south of the Denny's restaurant in Linda Mar, turn left (inland or east) on an unmarked road, which takes you to the beach's parking lot and to a 146-step staircase that leads to the sand. Coming from the south on Highway 1, look for a road on the right (east), 1.2 miles north of the Chart House restaurant in Montara.