If you thought day hikes were challenging, then you’re in for a big surprise when you hike after dark for the first time.
Hiking in the night is a completely different experience. All the landmarks that are so easy to spot during the day are hidden in the darkness of the night. In the midst of the darkness, you’re playing a bit of a guessing game which can be intriguing for some but terrifying for others!
Also, a bunch of animals come out to play after the sun sets.
There’s an added thrill to hiking in the dark that isn’t there during the day. If you’re going out to hike in the dark, here’s what you need to keep in mind:
The More The Merrier
Taking on a hiking trail at night is much more fun with a large group. Having friends around bolsters your courage as you leap into the depths of the darkness.
When traveling in a group, you can count on each other for support. Wait for those who need a bathroom break and if someone feels the need to rest, it’s better to take a short break.
Don’t let anyone wander off by one’s self.
Carry A Light Source
Your go-to light source should be a headlamp, as it will keep your hands free; but do keep a flashlight in your bag just in case.
A light source is useless without batteries so remember to pack some in your bag, especially if you’re going on a long hike that lasts for several days.
Small Animals Can Make Big Noises
No there isn’t a vicious bear waiting for you at every corner. In the steadiness of the dark, any sort of noise can seem loud. The rustling leaves may feel like a giant bear is hiding behind the bushes, but it’s much more likely to just be a squirrel. There’s no need to panic at every noise.
Be Mindful Of Your Headlamp
Head lamps can be a nuisance in a group if you aren’t watching out. Shining a headlamp directly at someone will hurt their eyes, so keep the lamp pointed at the ground or surrounding areas.
Don’t direct a headlamp at someone, use peripheral vision instead or else you’ll have to keep stopping for their eyes to readjust.
Let Your Itinerary Be Known
Hiking in the dark isn’t easy. Every year, thousands of hikers need to be rescued. Before you immerse yourself in the darkness of the outdoors, let a loved one know where you’re going and when you expect to come back. This way if you don’t make it back on time, they can send help for you.
Whether you’re going on a long hike during the night or just a short day hike, always make it a point to let people know where you’re headed.
The author of this post is a passionate hiker and a regular contributor to Aarn USA. Aarn is an award-winning, New Zealand-based designer and manufacturer of ultralight hiking gear. Their online specialty store offers an array hiking hear including daypacks, StrongLites, UltraLites and more.