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Night Hiking

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  • Night Hiking

    This is something I've been doing for years. It started as poor planning and stubborn decision making, then grew to a familiar way to get around parking issues, and now its an occasional goal. One of my rounds of the 46 was made up of hikes where at least half of my trip was via headlamp after dark, and on a couple of occasions I completed whole sections of ranges late at night. Sometimes its extraordinarily peaceful and beautiful in a very unearthly way, sometimes is borderline terrifying and makes me wonder where my life went wrong. I found my limit in the Macs in January one year when wind gusts were approaching 50mph and I was up to my chest in one spruce trap after another. Aside from an occasional trip out to Avalanche pass, which I believe to be one of the most beautiful places on earth on a clear winter night, I primarily limit my High Peaks night hikes to the warmer months now.

    All that being said, it must be approached reverently. Planning and packing needs to be done more deliberately, as does every step of the hike. This article does not do a very good job driving that point home. One the other hand, its interesting that the area's higher than average usage as gotten such a big stage.
    My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west.

  • #2
    Good article. Thanks for posting. Interesting to hear your perspective on this. I know salt and others like yourself do hike in the dark and occasionally post a trip report of such hikes but otherwise it's not talked about much on here except when some misadventure occurs.

    Originally posted by FlyFishingandBeer View Post
    ...sometimes is borderline terrifying and makes me wonder where my life went wrong.
    I get a similar feeling every time I'm in the car pre-dawn in the pitch black headed north with nobody else around except long-haul truckers, especially in winter. I always ask myself why the hell am I out here? But once the sun comes up I'm always thankful I dragged myself out of bed.

    I can't say night hiking will be a regular thing for me but it is on my list to try at some point. Some star-gazing or getting to see some nocturnal creatures of the forest would be the draw. However, the disruption of my normal routine the day before, day of, and day after such a hike would be the major downside for me. That and being predominantly a solo hiker I don't need extra risk factors thrown on top of my outings.


    • #3
      When I am leading a guide training trek and we happen to be at favorite campsites, I sometimes have the students head out at night with open eyes and open ears, and all other senses, walking along a rough lake shore trail, no lights, no talking allowed, single file separated by several body lengths(kind of an early version of social distancing). After a couple hundred yards, I ask, what did you experience? Answers such as the sounds of swishing grass, boots crunching sand, a frog leaping, night vision by starlight, stars reflecting off the water surface, musty odors, a gentle cool breeze, hearing an owl in the distance, for example. Maybe a brief bright meteor or an artificial satellite streaking across the sky. Back when Iridium satellite flares were common, my favorite thing to do was I had done my homework and at the preplanned exact time I might have pointed to the part of the sky where it was predicted to appear, and a very bright ray of sunlight reflected from the satellite surface would be suddenly cast upon us for a few seconds.
      "Leave the beaten track behind occasionally and dive into the woods. Every time you do you will be certain to find something you have never seen before." - Alexander Graham Bell