Here, Rachael Fitzpatrick, 28, tells the story in her own words.
￼Pulling on my boots, I tied the laces in a double bow and grabbed my water bottle and hat.
The last thing I want is sun stroke, I thought. It wasn’t even 9am and the temperature was in the 30s.
Still, striding out, I loved the feeling of warmth on my skin, the grass brushing against my bare legs.
Then, a faint breeze patted my bare buttocks and tickled my breasts.
That’s because – free from the confines of clothes – I hike naked!
‘Free as a bird,’ I cooed, passing a tree full of parrots.
Since childhood, I’d loved going on long strolls. But after a heartbreaking split from my fiancé in 2016, I decided the only way to get over it was to plunge headfirst into life.
It meant not turning down any opportunities that came my way – no matter how wacky.
So, I dubbed 2017 my ‘Yes Year’, when I was going to say ‘yes’ to new experiences, however great the challenge.
I went skydiving, learnt to surf and travelled the world.
Then, on a hiking holiday in Perth with my mate Mark Daniels, 28, I really decided to throw caution to the wind.
Picking our way along a secluded 14km trail up in the hills, I fell behind Mark.
When I eventually caught up with him, I was surprised to see he’d taken off all his clothes!
‘Come on!’ he said. ‘What are you waiting for?’
It wasn’t the normal situation where I’d be ripping off my clothes in front of a bloke...
But he was right, it felt great!
With that, I caught the naked-hiking bug.
I’d trek in my birthday suit along discreet rural routes near home most weekends, without fear of bumping into anyone.
Trudging through the wilderness, foliage caressing my waist, each step brought with it a starburst of sensations.
As a digital specialist, working with modern gadgets, it was paradise to get back to basics.
‘It’s restored my confidence,’ I told my friends and family, happily.
My enthusiasm was clearly contagious, because soon they were joining me!
My mum Paula, 51, loves hiking.
Together, we’d find a secret spot, then we’d strip off and relax before snapping some pictures.
We always wear lots of sunscreen and keep our eyes out for venomous snakes and spiders.
I haven’t had any encounters so far, but I always carry a first-aid kit in my backpack just in case.
One day, I was in Cairns on a long naked hike when I decided to skinny dip at an isolated spot to cool off.
When the water got cold, I dressed just as two older women arrived. They told me they were sisters.
‘I don’t want to offend you...’ one said, ‘but we’ve come here to go skinny dipping.’
My eyes lit up and I laughed.
‘You’ve run into the right person!’ I said, before we all went back in the water together in the nuddy.
For some people, stripping off in public would be unthinkable.
For others, it might be a little daunting. But once you’ve got over that initial fear, it is so rewarding.
I find rambling naked completely liberating and it’s really helped me to become more comfortable in my own skin.
These days, I’m really content with who I am and know that I’m a much stronger person for it.
Happily single now, I’m even an ambassador for the body positivity campaign, Get Naked Australia.
I post my photos on Instagram in the hope it will encourage others to join me and enjoy the same confidence that going naked has given me.
Recently, I was out strolling in the buff when I got chatting to a lady about why I do it and how great it makes me feel.
A couple of weeks later she sent me a picture of herself on a naked hike too. You inspired me, she wrote. And it felt great!
Some people might think it’s a little strange, but from my experience nude hiking has been so helpful in making me a stronger, happier woman. That’s the naked truth!
Read more in this week's issue of that's life, on sale now.
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