Night Hiking

Hiking into the Heart of Darkness

Hiking at night is generally not a good idea. It usually means you’re late, you’re tired, and you can’t see as well. Some outdoorsmen call twilight the bewitching hour, because statistically, more accidents happen around dusk than any other time of the day. This makes sense- you’re tired, the light isn’t as good, and you just want to get to bed. Indigenous people who hike all the time refuse to hike at night. Night it time to make camp.

So, if you’re hiking into the night, chances are, something is wrong. That’s not always the case though. Sometimes it’s advantageous to hike at night. It helps you avoid the heat, it’s a different experience, and it’s beautiful in its own right. I try to avoid night hiking, but since I also try to avoid getting out of bed too early, I find myself hiking into the night during the short days of winter. In that light, here are a few tips for night hiking: 1. If the tree cover isn’t too thick and the moon is bright, try hiking without a light. You’ll see more and not stress as much.2. Slow down. 3 mph during the day is a good pace, but you have to cut it back at night.3. Use your peripheral vision. Your retinal nerve is attached to the center of your eye, thus less rods in that area. You’re effectively blind in the center. This is more pronounced at night.4. Turn on your headlamp if it’s bad. There’s no shame in lighting your path if it means keeping yourself from breaking an ankle.5. Feel the path. The trail is significantly harder than the surrounding forest floor. If your steps get soft, you’re probably off trail. Enjoy your hike and if you find yourself hiking at night, relax, slow down, and next time exercise better timing!