There’s controversy brewing over naked hiking in the snowy mountainous range of Appenzell, Switzerland. Heading up the coalition for naked hiking rights is a growing population of Swiss and sympathetic foreigners who like to see nature au naturel. Yup, that’s right: boots, sunscreen, and a backpack. Though you might run across a brave hiker tromping nude through the snow, the most popular time to drop trou and walk off into the sunset is in the summer, which is disconcerting for some residents of the ultra-conservative town of Appenzell, population 5,600 (women just got the right to vote in 1990).
It seems that they tried to arrest a nudie hiker only to release him because there’s no law against nude hiking. So now, they’re going to do their best to get nude hiking outlawed. “We’re not in Canada, where you can hike for hours in vast forests,” said a spokesman for the local government. “Here you meet other hikers every few minutes. It was bothersome.” They plan is to hold a grand assembly of the town to make the law go into effect for the summer season of hiking. The law would fine nude hikers $170 — and would likely be challenged in a higher court because Switzerland struck down the laws banning public nudity back in 1991. “Simply being naked without any sexual connotation is no longer illegal,” says Daniel Kettiger, a legal expert, who published a six-page paper last month titled, “The Bare Facts: On the Criminal Prosecution of Nude Hiking.” Ironically, nude hiking would be the only situation where “pitching a tent” could have exclusively nonsexual connotations.