Nighttime hiking can obviously be more dangerous for a number of reasons than daytime hiking, firstly for the lack of visibility and an altered sense of judgment, but it also offers a unique beauty that changes a landscape into another world. Especially for those escaping the city and entering into the dark natural world without the constant glow of densely-populated areas, nighttime hiking provides a thrill unique to the activity.
It is a more isolated activity though, you are not likely to see any other hikers on the trail and the rangers are likely at home in bed, so you need to make extra preparations and guard against possible pitfalls. Here are some do’s and don’t of nighttime hiking.
It’s obvious that during a nighttime hike you are going to need some lighting. However, there are some important things to consider when deciding what lighting to use. Brighter isn’t necessarily better, as while a bright light will illuminate the dark, a harsh white light will also impair your normal night vision. Think about when you get up during the night to use the bathroom and how your vision is affected after turning the bathroom light on.
If you limit the use of your headlamp and try to use the natural light of the moon (if there is one), your eyes will adjust to the darkness allowing you observe the natural environment and enjoy the starry sky. Having said that, it’s important to ensure you have good lighting at your disposal so that when you need it you can access it easily. Purchasing a quality light is an investment in your safety, so ensure you go for a quality light like a LED Lenser to keep yourself out of trouble.
Move with the Moon
When planning your hike, it’s a good idea to keep track of the moon cycle and hike when there is a full moon to ensure you will have a good amount of natural lighting. This will make the hike more enjoyable because you’ll be able to see much more of the scenery around you and rely less on your headlamp and torches. Being organized is essential to nighttime hiking.
Choose your Trail
Starting your hike near sunset and making your way to a great viewpoint to see the sunset is a great way to start your night hike. From there, you can continue on as night falls and the darkness really sets in. You can also go the other way and start your hike with the end goal in mind or reaching a viewpoint to watch the sunrise.
Watching sunrise and sunset is a great experience and one that most metropolitan dwellers rarely get to enjoy in their busy lifestyles. It also helps have a goal to work towards during your hike – trekking to see that great view to watch the sunrise or stare up at the stars will keep you motivated and reward you for your hard work.
Observe Your Surroundings
During a nighttime hike you are bound to be more alert and aware of sounds while your vision is impaired, but be sure to have mapped out where you are going before you leave, check for landmarks to stay on the right track and stay aware of your surroundings. Watch your footing and also remain aware of wildlife.
Most of the time during night hikes your wildlife encounters will be minimal, but you should always make sure to check to know what animals to expect and where they might be found. Listen and look for animals to ensure their safety and yours, take the time to enjoy them but try not to disturb them as best you can.
Stay organized, never hike at night alone, and ensure you have working communications in case you get stuck and need assistance. Happy hiking!
| Image from httpss://coolofthewild.com/night-hike/