Words & Photos by Andrea Davis
Due to the risks involved, solo hiking can be dangerous in general, but more so when the sun is down. When hiking at night, bring a hiking buddy long. It will decrease the likelihood of getting lost. If something were to go wrong and you are unable to walk out on your own feet, having someone else there will be essential for your well being.
Picking a durable headlamp is important when planning a night hike. Always carry a reliable headlamp on any given hike, especially at night. Put new batteries in before heading out on the trail. Be sure to pack an spare set of them too, just in case they’re needed. Make sure to practice appropriate headlamp etiquette and adjust your light so that it faces downward towards the ground so that you aren’t temporarily blinding your fellow hikers.*The absolute WORST.*
It is important that you remain fully aware of your surroundings when hiking in the dark. You must be extra cautious of any downed tree limbs, uneven roots, or jagged rocks along the trail. This, too, might come along with having to move a bit slower than you normally would on a normal day hike. Slow down and be mindful of your surroundings. If you encounter any wildlife, be wary and show respect. When hiking in the woods at anytime of the day, including night, be sure that you are aware of what to do in this type of situation. Act accordingly and remember that you are in their territory, not the other way around!
Layers will be your very best friend when hiking after dark. Dress in all the layers. Bring extra clothing in case yours get wet or sweaty and you need to change out of them. It is also very important to remember that the temperature will typically drop a significant amount after the sun goes down. Dress and pack for weather conditions that are colder than you anticipate them to be. Keep in mind that wind chill plays a factor in how cold it will be, and wind can make it feel twice as chilly when in higher elevations. You can always remove layers if you get too warm, but you can’t add an extra layer that you didn’t bring.
It’s smart to avoid hiking a trail that you are unfamiliar with when hiking at night. It isn’t the best idea to be wandering around foreign terrain without the luxury of daylight. Things can take a turn for the worst, very quickly. Being unfamiliar with your surroundings will only add to the situation. Save the new trails for a day hike. It’s certainly not worth the risk of getting lost.
If you plan to start your hike before the sun comes up, a good idea would be to plan it out so that you don’t miss the sunrise. Start early enough so that you can see the sunrise from the summit.Two perks of this would be that you’ll beat all the crowds of people and get to see the beautiful sun rising from the alpine zone. It’s a win win.
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