Nude Hikers Shock Sleepy Swiss Town

Deep in the Alps, a village encounters influx of naked visitors
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2009 8:00 AM CDT
The Alps seen from Appenzell, Switzerland. The quiet town has seen an influx of hikers wearing little more than climbing boots.   (©Kecko)
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(Newser) – Appenzell is a remote, conservative town in the Swiss Alps; it has just 5,600 residents, makes famed cheese, and finally awarded women the right to vote in 1990. Yet in recent years, a growing number of Swiss and foreign visitors have taken to hiking through the mountains wearing nothing more than boots and a backpack. The town is struggling to understand why nude hiking has taken off—and as the New York Times reports, seems powerless to stop it.

In September one hiker was detained for traipsing through the Alps in the altogether, but the police had to let him go; there's no law against nude hiking, and Swiss constitutional experts say banning public nudity would be unconstitutional. As the weather warms up and  Appenzell prepares for another influx of unclothed hiking enthusiasts, many in the town expressed confusion at naked hiking's allure. "I can understand swimming nude," said one woman, "but not hiking."