Good gravy it was hot! Oh, sure, there's hot, but then there's the hot you get in the summer in the Midwest. If you didn't grow up here, you wouldn't know what I'm talking about! It's the kind of hot where the humidity is higher than the temperature. Your clothes stick to you. The air doesn't move. You keep hoping to find shade on the trail ahead, but when you get in the shade, it isn't any better. So far, this Independence Day weekend was the hottest weekend of the year. It was perfect weather for the plans we'd made.
I thought of lots of things as I pushed my way through the weeds, barely making out the long-unused trail through the trees and scrub ahead.
Swarms of gnats flickered in the sunlight. A helicopter-like dragonfly hovered, flitted briefly, and hovered again over the path before me. A monarch butterfly fluttered over the milkweed. To my right, a crow or starling lifted into the blue, cloudless sky. A jet left a white vapor trail high overhead. I wiped my sweaty brow and pressed on.
The mugginess cried for a good summer shower to clear and cool the air. But then when the sun came back, the oppressive humidity would return worse than before. The forecast called for hot, humid, then hotter, and even more of the same. One forecaster said there might be a slight chance of some distant "heat lightning" that evening, but it caused me no alarm.
My shirt was a thin nylon fishing model from one of the big online outfitters. It was white to reflect the heat, but so thin it was nearly transparent. Even that felt hot. I'd already fully unbuttoned it. I'd have taken it off completely, except it just seemed like too much work to drop and re-lift the heavy backpack on my shoulders.
I was glad I'd gone commando under the lightweight hiking kilt covering my hips. The swishing of the hem at least made a little air movement over my naked junk as my hiking boots trudged onward toward my goal. Sarah wanted me to shave off my pubes awhile back, and I'd liked the result, so down there I was still completely bald, and I had to admit, right now it felt pretty darned good! I was careful to give a wide berth to poison ivy or stinging nettles, and my minimal clothing was certainly scant protection from thorns or bug bites as well.
It really didn't make too much difference. I'd be stripping off completely as soon as I forded the stream and reached the island. I was looking forward to several glorious days of being stark naked in nature, the way God had intended.
Sarah and I had planned this trip together for months. I'd met her at the start of my sophomore year at college, and by the holidays, we'd become an item. Together we did all the boyfriend-girlfriend things. The shaving was just one of them. This summer's nude campout was to be the highlight of our brief vacation time together. The rest of the summer, except for this one-week interlude, we lived with our parents, a thousand miles apart.
We'd scanned the catalogs and selected just the right tent, a nylon dome. It was probably too big for just the two of us, but the price online was right. She insisted that we get a quality air mattress, even if it was a little heavier to carry. And she heartily approved the one "double-wide" sleeping bag we'd take for our nocturnal arrangements. All the other stuff I'd ordered also cost a little more, but the tab was worth it each time I fantasized about her jutting bare breasts, succulent nipples and naked backside, her long tanned, toned legs leading to that beautiful trimmed blonde landing strip, and ... well, it was a glorious exercise in daydreaming. I always got hard just thinking about it!
Of course the best part of the fantasy was our agreement that once we crossed to the island, we'd jettison all our clothes and spend our entire time together bare balled, bare-boobed, and butt naked, no matter what!
We'd only take the minimal clothes we wore, no underwear, no spares, (except maybe some extra socks, ) a couple towels, and of course, all our food and camping gear. Maybe we could even catch a couple fish for a fresh meal or two. River water was crystal-clear drinkable-pure, and there were plenty of places to hike, swim, and just enjoy nature. Of course, we also planned to enjoy lots and lots of each other! I guess that part got me a little carried away when I ordered, but I knew we'd be comfortable, cozy, and not too heavily burdened, as we'd share the load between our matching packs and hiking frames.
The problem was, suddenly Sarah was now my EX-girlfriend. With the trek already outfitted, I eagerly anticipated the coming summer, yet as finals loomed, she seemed more distant. She said she was just excited about going home to see her parents during June, and was looking forward to getting back with some of her high-school friends in the town where she grew up. She assured me after a month at home, she'd fly the thousand miles to meet me for our Independence Day outing.
The month of June seemed like a lifetime. But as I counted down the days, and fantasized through the lonely nights, I noticed I always called her; she never called me. I guessed she was just busy with her family and friends, and sometimes forgot.
Then, a week ago, the letter came. She told me she'd reconnected with her high school sweetheart. She was sorry, she said, but it was magic, and he'd even invited her to go river rafting over July 4 with his family in Western Colorado.
I guess a week in the nude with me on a tiny Midwest island just couldn't compete with the grandeur of the Grand Canyon of the Gunnison. Besides, she wrote, she was transferring to a college nearer to home in the fall, and it wouldn't be fair to either of us to try to maintain a long-distance relationship for the next several years. She'd known about the transfer for at least four months, but hadn't known how to tell me. And that was that! Sarah and I were through!
I tried to call, but this time she wouldn't even talk with me!
Well, fuck her! I'd already spent the money. I had all the gear, I'd made all the plans, and I was going nude camping, even if I had to carry all the damned stuff out to the island and spend my time there by myself. But as one consolation, I told my parents I'd only be gone for three or four days. No sense spending too much time wallowing in self-pity! I also purposely omitted telling them the part about going nude.
The timing was perfect. Mom and dad had already scheduled a road trip of their own, a couple weeks to visit my aunt and uncle at their cabin in the wilds of Northern Michigan, "far away from cell phones and civilization," so camping or not, for the next weeks I'd be on my own anyway. We bid each other goodbye at our driveway, and they headed north, while I headed to the nearest grocery to fill my larder for my camping trip.
Getting what I'd want should have been no problem, but finding a parking spot at the market was. Apparently everybody needed to stock up for the Independence Day holiday, and I circled the lot twice before I found a good space. But before I could turn in, some jackass in an older full-sized pickup cut me off and screeched into the spot before me. To add insult to injury, the greasy haired jerk gave me a gleeful smirk, and flipped me off!
I took a few breaths to calm myself, wrote him off as just another smart-ass, and finally found a spot at the far periphery of the lot. My supplies took just a couple minutes, and once again, I was on my way my island hideaway.
I'd been to Whipple Island before. I don't think too many people except some of my buddies and I had. Heck, I don't even know if anybody besides us even called it "Whipple Island." It's about a 6 or 7 acre thumb that juts out where the river meandered during a flood years ago. It's a little higher than the surrounding fields and forests, and now there's a town reservoir upstream, so the river hasn't really flooded in decades.
But it really is an island. On the one side, there's a small channel that cuts it off from the mainland. Unless they open the reservoir gates in a heavy storm, that channel is probably only ten or twelve feet wide, and usually not very deep, so if you know where, it's pretty easy to jump across between stepping stones without even getting wet.
On the other side, the main channel is probably seventy-five or a hundred feet across. And in places that side gets pretty deep. Unless the floodgates are open, the water just lazily burbles downstream. The island has plenty of trees so it's pretty secluded. There are several places we even skinny-dipped The shoreline is shaded, with lots of good fishing holes. All in all, it would have been the perfect spot for my nude getaway with Sarah. Now it would be mine alone.
The Whipple family owned the island, and probably another couple hundred acres west of it. That's why it got its name. Tre Whipple and I were in the same grade and joined Boy Scouts together. That's how I learned about camping, outdoor cooking, and first aid and stuff. His name is really "Jerry Whipple, III." Or I guess it's really "Gerald Whipple, The Third." That's why everybody calls him "Tre."
His dad is "Jerry Whipple, Junior," or just "Junior Whipple." He owns the local Ford-New Holland Implement dealership, which he inherited from Tre's grandfather, Gerald Whipple, Senior. Senior started out as a farmer, but found there was more money in selling tractors than running them. So he retired from farming, moved into town, and later leased part of the old farm to a couple other guys who graze dairy cattle and grow hay to feed them. The rest of it, including the island, is just trees and natural meadows.
.... There is more of this story ...