Exploring in the Dark: Safety Tips for Night HIkes
When you go hiking at night you enter a whole new world. You hear new sounds and see new things out and about that you may not have encountered before. If you thought safety was important when you go hiking during the day, nighttime hikes need to be focuses on safety even more. Here are some practical tips for hiking at night.
1. First you need to find out if night hikes are even allowed where you want to go. Dedicated wilderness areas should be fine (i.e. where camping is allowed). Many public-owned parks and facilities will have daylight hours only. You will need to thoroughly research the place you are going before you decide to hiking at night.
2. Go in a group. Never hike alone at night as there are too many safety risks. Take at least one person with you but a group of three should be the minimum. I say three because it takes two people to carry one other person effectively for long distances should someone get hurt. Further, you can send one person to get help while the other stays with the injured person.
3. Flashlights are a must even if the moon is full. Take two sets of spare batteries and make sure the flashlight works before you leave your house. You don't have to take ultra-bright flashlights with huge lantern batteries as they will wear out your hand. Make sure you take plenty of extra batteries.
4. Check the weather before you go and dress appropriately. If it is winter time the temperatures may plunge at night. If the temps are cold dress in layers and shed the outer ones if you get hot.
5. Food and water are necessities even if it is cooler at night. Pack out your trash and eat trail food that is quick and simple. Animals will be out at night and can smell food easily so you want to keep the snack simple and eat it expediently so as to give any wild animals less of a chance to smell it and think you're holding their dinner.
6. Take a map with you and if you are savvy take a compass as well. Stay on marked trails and know where you are going and how long it should take you. Allow a little extra time for hiking at night since humans don't see well at night and it probably would take longer to walk.
Don't backpack alone,
is the prevailing advice
from backpacking books and government agencies. They say the risk is too great
if you were injured or got lost with no one to go for help. And
they are right - the risk is there, and a person backpacking alone has a
responsiblity to be very careful to avoid trouble.
But I think that something is lost in
all this good advice. The hard fact is that good sense and good health may delay
the inevitable, but will not change the fact that our lives our short and not
one of us will ultimately survive.
The problem as I see it is not how best
to avoid death, but how to live well. For some that means backpacking into
Time by one's self is underated as a
quality for a healthy individual. In solitude you learn plenty about yourself
and can discover a strength you were unaware of. Solitude can cause a turn in
your philosophy towards a belief in the divinity in the universe. Going alone in
wilderness seems to facilitate these changes, since you are away from the busy
activity and diverting gadgets that fill a normal life.
Standing before the beauty of a
mountain wilderness in solitude can make one feel as if they have stepped
through the door of heaven and now have the opportunity to walk within
Solitude and lonliness are not the same thing -
Solitude and lonliness are not the same thing - The beauty and peace and power of a wilderness is such that what
you witness in nature in one day is life-filling, and the emptiness that
characterizes lonliness drifts away.
The response of an individual to wild
nature is much like that of music, or art - everyone is affected by it
How to Fit a Week's Gear into a Weekend Pack. Don't own a massive pack for your big annual adventure? Here's how to make it all fit.
Use compression sacks for sleeping bags and puffy clothing. 2: Eliminate spare clothing and socks to gain space for food and fuel. 3: Use a tarp, and bug net if needed, rather than a full tent with poles.
4: Use a half-length sleeping pad that goes from shoulder to hips. Your pack can go beneath your lower legs. 5: Sample sized items and small zip-locks save weight and bulk. 6: Repackage your food, and deflate puffy freeze-dried packages with a pin. Tape over the hole after flattening.
7: Strap heavy items outside the pack on top and sides, to keep weight high and close to your spine. 8: Light items like clothing and pads go on the pack front. 9: Water and fuel bottles can go outside the pack, but don't let them swing around; it steals energy from every stride.
10: Make full use of hipbelt pockets and accessory pouches to gain space. 11: SLR cameras can stay in a chest holster, for more room - and better photos. And now you're ready to go!