View Full Version : day vs night

05-31-2009, 20:13
has anyone hiked in the night hours? could be a stupid question.

05-31-2009, 20:33
No quesiton is stupid, only the anwers you may get. Some enjoy night hiking while others avoid it. And each group holds strong opinions. The AT is a rough trail and south of Vermont the snakes will be out and about more at night. Lots of people hike successfully with headlamps despite the fact that they tend to make unevenness in the trail less visible. Others prefer hand-held lights which accent variations in the terrain. One thing you can't count on is the moon. The AT can be dark even at noon. In moonlight it can be tunnel dark. If I get early starts and hike hard during the day, I don't usually have the energy to keep going at night. But that's just me. You may be Superman.

05-31-2009, 22:28
Yeah on my last section and I twisted my ankle. Never again.

05-31-2009, 22:34
Some nights I love it, but other nights it is so dark out that even with a good flashlight you can only see a foot or 2 in front of you. It is easier to get hurt, and you mis out on some good views, but if you have a full moon and you are a good hiker there are some spots that a Night hike is amazing. Like Cali North of Bakersfeild, I forget exactly where I was but the moon was full and the hill made this bowl which had filled with fog, creating this mystical lake in the middle of the mountains, the light from the moon made it glow and sparkle.

05-31-2009, 22:37
i"ve hike those last few miles to a destination or to get away from an area. with dark you can miss that cutoff trail (blue blaze) or those rocks and tree roots Blissful alluded to. another problem could be the tendency to slow down. if i need to a few hours though it is not my preferred time.

05-31-2009, 23:44
I usually only night hike in the fall and winter when it gets dark early and still have a few miles to go to get to where I want to be.

Some people like to night hike. It is definately slower, but can be fun to do once in awhile. The woods look a lot different at night by headlamp then during the day!

06-01-2009, 00:12
Hot summer days, flatter terrain, adequate headlamp, and a realization that night hiking can sometimes require slightly more caution and there is no reason why most hikers can't put in after sunset miles on the AT. It makes for a whole different set of hiking conditions that with proper preparation can make for some exciting hiking. Nothing quite like coming upon that heard of deer with their eyes aglow during your first no moon night hike.

06-01-2009, 00:25
Full moon next weekend. May do a bit. LOVE night hiking under a full moon once the leaves are off the trees. You don't even need to turn on your headlamp on a clear night. Very cool.

06-01-2009, 00:52
I hear you CM. Can also be spectacular hiking at night under a full moon in the desert. Even on clear dark moonless nights the skies are so dark(little or no light pollution) you can see SOOO many stars, planets, etc.:banana

Full moon next weekend. May do a bit. LOVE night hiking under a full moon once the leaves are off the trees. You don't even need to turn on your headlamp on a clear night. Very cool.

06-01-2009, 01:13
I love full moon hiking...and night hiking in general.

One of my favorite hikes was going up Longs Peak (a "14er"..14k ft peak) by the light of the full moon. The clouds socked in anything below treeline. Above treeline? It was so bright, no head lamp was needed. And watching the sunrise over the plains? Simply awesome.

I have also done full moon backcountry skis. Swishing along fresh powder, seeing the continental divide simply glowing with the light of the winter moon and enjoy the alpine lake with some hot cider (and a splash of rum)... magical.

Don't be afraid of the night..embrace it!

06-01-2009, 05:05
I like to start hiking early, especially in the summer so I've hiked the pre-dawn hours a few times. It can get kinda wierd in places so I don't think I'd be one to hike at night out of just liking it.

If there were a section of trail I was pretty familiar with and had hiked a few times or recently enough to remember it pretty good I'd be more prone to do it.

06-01-2009, 06:47
Night hiking can be cool, especially during a full moon, but you can miss out on scenery though. I mostly do it on the first night as I arrive at the trailhead after dark and would rather hike in a couple of miles than sleep in or by the car. :)

06-01-2009, 06:55
I prefer half moon over full moon sometimes as when the sun goes down, the half moon is at it's highest.
One week later (waxing) comes full moon and when the sun goes down (of course) the moon is just rising.
You really don't get the light from it for a few more hours (unless you're at sea)

I've tried some all night hikes. I prefer daytime.

A strong light is important. (unless it's a moonlit night, then i prefer no light) Your eyes get fatigued if you don't have a good light.
(i used to run ultras)

Out west is much better for moonlight hiking IMO.

06-01-2009, 08:27
I've found that night hiking generally isn't that interesting.

Nothing to see and you run the risk of missing your campsite/shelter or turn offs of blue blazes. Or take a blue blaze thinking it's the trail.

Not worth it. Get to your campsite, set up and then scope out the area for good morning photo shoots when the photography is best.

That way you're not wasting precious morning time looking for the good shot.

06-01-2009, 08:39
I fully second Mag's comments.

I LOVE full moon hiking, especially in winter, with snow cover - BEAUTIFUL!!!

Night hiking is fun, and offers a new perspective. Enter into it with a curiosity and an open mind, and you will find unique enjoyment.

06-01-2009, 08:41
Boring in summer, fascinating in Winter.

06-01-2009, 08:55
A really nice change of pace from the day. Everything looks different and it's cooler at night as an added bonus.

Big Dawg
06-01-2009, 09:00
I've enjoyed a few night hikes. They were in winter, no leaves on trees, full moon, not difficult trail, and rarely needed headlamp. Pretty cool hiking!

Jim Adams
06-01-2009, 09:09
I hiked about 250 miles of the AT at night on my 1990 thru but only about 35 on my 2002 thru. The full moon is nice but using a light and hiking with no moon reveals some incredible stars. IMO, once the leaves are out, the only good reasons to night hike is to avoid the heat of day or to get to a high elevation campsite for the night sky views.


06-01-2009, 12:23
I like to start hiking early, especially in the summer so I've hiked the pre-dawn hours a few times.

I was both really curious about night hiking and scared about night hiking. Mostly, the worry was that I would lose the trail and not be able to find it in the dark. I imagined spending a long night wondering if i'd wandered far enough afield to make finding the trail at sunup really difficult. So... for the first several times i hiked in the dark i just got up pretty early (easy enough in the winter!) and "tried" it. All the great things said by others about night hiking are true... as a treat, it is, well, a treat! I suggest you just relax about the starting and finishing times of your hiking day, so that you catch a bit of hiking in the dark at either end. not to mention a sunset/sunrise! ...and perhaps try it in the morning, first, to reduce the worry factor.

06-01-2009, 12:42
Night hiking when the the ice and snow is hanging from the trees is magical and eerie at the same time! Let's you know that you are alive and experiencing something that few others have.

06-01-2009, 17:55
I had some of the same concerns as 1azurus before Hikerhead talked me into hiking the last 4 miles of a 23-mile first day after dark in late October (Hampton, VA to Double Springs Shelter). I had a lot of reservations, but it was pretty cool (both neat and temperature-wise). I ended up hiking another hour in the dark later that trip, this time at the end of a 25-mile day, which gave me a higher fear factor as I was hiking solo by then. Tip: Don't try to hike at night when the snow is falling...the light from your headlamp reflects off of all the snowflakes and makes it hard to see anything!

06-01-2009, 20:21
Kerosene mentioned the fear factor...

If nothing else, it's good to do a bit of night hiking so you lose the fear of it. It's different, yes, but definitely do-able. Get a good headlamp (I upgraded from a two LED to a four), and try it sometimes. It is definitely easier to get lost at night, so be careful about keeping track of where you are. I go slowly and carefully at night. You'll see different animals. Everything looks different, and sounds different. It can be very cool.

06-01-2009, 20:26
I hiked the last mile of a 24 mile day after dark unintentionally for the first time on my last section. I have been leary of hiking at night for 2 reasons. #1) Even with a headlamp , the smallest of rocks can cause a twisted ankle , no fun in my book.
#2 Much easier to find a level place to set up a tent when there is still light unless your nights stay is in a shelter.

Devils adocate says its cool to hike at night , especially under the brightness of a full moon and.....blah...blah.

It's all good hiking .

06-01-2009, 20:40
Devils adocate says its cool to hike at night , especially under the brightness of a full moon and.....blah...blah.

Not being a devil's advocate...I just love doing it.

Esp when I can encounter a sunrise like this:



You can't do that by starting at 8am. :)

06-01-2009, 20:46
..also night time hiking lets you carve jack o' lanterns on the summit of a local mountain!


Wise Old Owl
06-01-2009, 21:53
;)There is an article about how to sleep better in the wild in this issue of Backpacker this month.... Then you won't have to hike at night.;)

06-01-2009, 22:00
I enjoy hiking in the early morning more so than thru dusk into the night.

You see more wildlife, but can also walk by some hiding in the dark. I hiked by a bear one morning (around 4:30 am) that Phreak saw while following me with his dog Suzi.

I agree with the other posts that it is easier to get off trail in the dark. It's happened more than once.

06-01-2009, 22:59
I am a early riser and a slow hiker also. I love to wake up early and hit the trail in the dark or dusk then stop at sunrise to eat breakfast. This gives me the best of both worlds.

06-01-2009, 23:05
I was member of a loose group of hikers/climbers in Seattle called "After Hours Mountaineering", and we called what we did "day hiking at night". There were usually a dozen or so of us out there after dark every Wednesday night. So it can't be that uncommon if there are groups devoted to the practice.

06-01-2009, 23:08
I love night hiking! I'm naturally a night owl - soooo not a morning person. So if I get a late start, I just keep going until I'm ready to stop. Yes, it is harder to find a campsite (or the shelter). A fresh set of batteries in the headlamp helps a lot. If it's well after dark and I'm going to stay at the shelter, I always keep a hand above my light so as not to wake anyone inside, then find a tent site nearby (unless the shelter is empty).

What I love about night hiking: it's cooler, quieter, exciting and solitary. Owls call and swoosh overhead. The breeze is soft. Spiders glow like LEDs. Watching a harvest moon rise throught the trees. Turning the headlamp off once the full moon is high enough. Taking a break and closing your eyes and just feeling the night.

Favorite night-hiking moments include hiking in to Cloud Pond Lean-To in Maine and having it all to myself, going throught the Lemon Squeezer at night, hiking out of Duncannon in a winter storm that soon got a little too exciting (freezing rain and falling branches :eek:) and hearing bull elks bugling under a chilly full moon hike out at the end of a Wyoming trip.

And (while not technically a hike) when camping at the South Rim, walking out to view the Grand Canyon under a full moon was truly magical. The softly diffused contours, the muted blues and pinks, the shadows deep in the canyon and the soft glimmer of the moon on the river far below - that was my first sight of the canyon, ever. I enjoyed that more than the daytime view. That is one of those moments I hope I never forget.