View Full Version : night hiking

12-28-2004, 12:43
just curious on how many hikers hike at night.i average between 20 to 25 miles a day on the AT,so if it stop a lot,some time i hike several hours into the night,i just dont hike at night in the rain and fog:sun neo

12-28-2004, 12:50
Been years since I've done any serious night hiking but one thing to keep in mind ...the bears are active at night and they DO use the trails.

AT 2003

12-28-2004, 12:52
i was worried more about the boars in the smokeys than the bears:sun neo

SGT Rock
12-28-2004, 12:56
If I go night hiking, then it usually an outing just for that, and then I don't plan a lot of miles, just a nice hike to enjoy some night experiences.

12-28-2004, 13:00
While living near Franklin, NC, and doing day hikes I would see a lot places where the boar were active. It is something to be concerned about.

I night hiked once, it really messed up my sleep schedule for a few days. Also people sleeping in shelters or camped along the trail really don't a appreciate people coming in and bothering the whle their sleeping, I know the few times people in after dark I was not a very nice person. I am just glad I did go by anyone sleeping when I did my night hike.

12-28-2004, 13:08
I have done a few extra miles at night to make it to a certain destination. WE hiked with headlamps to reach the Fontana Hilton a day early, and started out from Derrick's Knob under headlamp before dawn, and ended up hiking under headlamp getting to the dam. Maybe a couple extra miles here and there, but the last long night hike I did was in Scouts.

Lion King
12-28-2004, 13:20
I night hike a lot.
I enjoy it.
I enjoy the adrenaline rush of hearing something Large move off to your right or left.

It can be scary as hell for certian, and I will never night hike in the Smokys again..well I say that now...
tow seperate incidents in the same night.

I was hiking with Wyldchild, Animal, Drifter and a couple of others in 2002...we were on the way to the Helicopter platform to watch the sun come up...actually they were there, I was night hiking to catch up...as my headlamp hit the trail, I could see the boot prints in the mud...then out of nowhere...large Cat tracks on top of the boot tracks for a good two hundred yards...then they vanished off to the right into the woods...that made me nervous.

I walked about 1/4 mile and heard a growl of some sort, three times within 5 minutes...maybe a bear walking beside me, I dont know..but I did one of those "GET SOME MOTHA" F&%^$ER!!!!!!!!!!" and waved my sticks in the air like a mad man.

Then about an hour later, while having abreak I was laughing at the whole thing...I begin to walk again in the dark..I hear wierd noises, rustlings all kinds of stuff, and right in front of me...liek fifty yards..little shadows bounced across thetrail...followed by one large snorting shadow.

Boars...Mom and babies...I was very nervous then...I sat there for a while waitng and looking for a tree to shimmy if neccasary...didnt hear them for about 10 minutes...but my heart was pounding so loud Im sure everyone with a mile could hear it.

The rest of the night went great, and I have had no oterh instances of that sourt of thing anywhere..well...Maine once with a Moose, but no other times...it is a rush for sure.

12-28-2004, 13:33
I do a night hike about once a month. Typically will hike on or near a full moon. Seeing the foothills bathed in the silvery light, the occasional fox and a chance to stretch out my legs in a relaxed, fun environment. Full moon snowshoes are esp. fun.

Doing a group night hike tonight. Here's the description to give you an idea of my focus for these hikes:

"The Chrismahanukwanzakah season is just about over. A season
of good cheer, good friends and many calories. Maybe you had a little
too much sour cream with your latkes. Perhaps that extra slice of
eggplant lasagna you had at a certain e-mail gnomes' house is still
with you. Or had just a tad too much eggnog? Then time to burn some
calories! We will be doing a hike in the silverly light of the almost
full moon. A casual stroll heading towards Enchanted Mesa that will be
about 2 hrs R/T. A great way to relax, unwind and (maybe) burn off the
slice of Double Chocolate Sinfully Delicious _Mocha Surprise. Bring a
headlamp and some warm clothes."

As you can see a fun, social outing that happens totake place at night. Good stuff!

12-28-2004, 14:09
Did my first night hike back in October on a section hike from the Appalachian Trail Station in NY heading for VT just above Williamstown MA. Got off the bus (train temporarily does not stop at station) and got started at exactly 10:02am. My destination was Schaghticoke Mtn Camp Site on the first day. I was a bit short when night closed in on me. I normally have a very good since of direction in the woods but found at night, it went with the light. The trail was not marked as well as it should have been. The blazes were old and were not the square crisp ones that we all prefer. I found that my LED light made the green moss that grows on trees and rocks appear white. I would wonder off the trail, realize it, and back track. My compass was of no use as a bearing North quickly turned to South on switch backs. I finally said enough, and pitched my hammock to spend the night somewhere short of my goal. At dawn everything was clear and I found I had camped about a ½ mile from my destination. I don't think I will try night hiking again.

12-28-2004, 16:12
regardless of my speed to distance and elevation,i average about 12 hours a day or night hiking on the AT. NEO

just curious on how many hikers hike at night.i average between 20 to 25 miles a day on the AT,so if it stop a lot,some time i hike several hours into the night,i just dont hike at night in the rain and fog neo

Make up our minds, is it 12 or 20 to 25?

Couldn't resist givin you a little crap, considering all of your "Trail Princess" threads. I'm sure if you get out and on the trail you're more likely to find one, like I did, than spamming the boards and annoying your fellow hikers. Good luck none the less!

12-28-2004, 17:02
12 hours a day,that means,i spend 12 hours on my feet,that includes stops
but during that 12 hours,i hike 20 to 25 miles on average,i spend more time stealth camping or staying at shelters when not crowed,i like meeting other hikers,just cant handle large crowds:sun

12-28-2004, 17:04
Yup, in my rush to give you a ration, I misread. Thoug I stand by my suggestion to look more on trail and less here for your Princess! :D

12-28-2004, 17:18
From what I surmize from talking with others on the trail, and staying at shelters, it seems that most people do some night hiking. There has been many a time when someone stumbles into a shelter after dark and wakes everyone else up. I don't know of any statistic to say how many night hike, or how many miles at night.

People hike at night because they push to get into town, or to a particular shelter or location, or to do the long day, like the MD challenge, or be on top of a mountain (Katahdin) at sunrise. Some night hike to avoid the heat and humidity during the day. For others, it's just a change from day hiking.

12-28-2004, 17:35
I had hiked from Amicalola to the Black Gap shelter one mild day last summer, and it was still relatively early. Noone else had showed up to make it a social occasion, and (this was in my recent poverty phase), my sleeping gear was on the minimal side. I had two working flashlights with extra batteries, and sufficient food and water. I said what the hey, let's see what night hiking here is like, and headed back.

It was pleasantly cooler (and the heat had not been bad during the day as it was). Avoiding rocks and roots was harder, so the bottoms of my feet and ankles took more of a beating. Holding a flashlight with one hand and my walking stick with the other meant that no hand was ever getting a complete break while I was still making headway. I would have enjoyed having a decent headlamp along, definitely.

There were far fewer spider webs across the Trail than I would have expected; perhaps the AT's spiders don't spin webs in darkness much?

I did pass a couple of small occupied camps within 30 yards of the Trail, and had a flashlight shone on me for a few seconds from one. No words were exchanged. Night hiking is perhaps less social just from it being nighttime (where people tend to be more psychologically insular), and not just from fewer hikers out on the Trail. I saw no animals, and heard little beyond crickets chirping and the like.

If it were terribly hot, the hours of daylight were shorter than the # of hours I could hike in a day, or if I had an unusually high need to make miles right then, I might hike at night again. As I could see very little of the beauty of the Trail, I don't think I would want to do it routinely.

12-28-2004, 23:00
i really enjoy night hiking,some of steepest decsent at night,angels rest into pearisburg va,coming into port clinton pa,bear mountain new york,i really love the trail both day and night:sun neo

12-28-2004, 23:35
my buddy, shoeless jon, and i night hiked from max patch almost to hot springs once. we never used headlamps. it was incredible. read about it here (http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=11947)

SGT Rock
12-28-2004, 23:45
A good night haike is always accomplished without a headlamp so you can really enjoy it. IMHO anything else is just making miles in the dark.

12-29-2004, 00:47
A good night haike is always accomplished without a headlamp so you can really enjoy it. IMHO anything else is just making miles in the dark.
I agree! Just got back from a night time stroll. With the almost full moon reflecting on the patches of snow, it was gorgeous. The foothills were almost glowing in the moonlight. Did not use my headlamp once tonight.

Nest month hope to do a full moon snowshoe. The next full moon is Jan 25th if anyone is curious.

I remember my first backpack at night. It was early October in Vermont on Columbus Day Weekend. I can't remember the shelter I camped at but walking on the AT in the crisp fall air, hearing the leaves rustle and seeing the stars and moonlight was just magical.

12-29-2004, 01:22
Sometimes you night-hike because you NEED to (the daylight just runs out before you get to your destination or rendezvous), and sometimes you night-hike because you WANT to.

I night-hike regularly in places I'm very familiar with like certain parts of SNP, and the A.T. or side trails between Dickey Gap and Damascus. The brighter the moon the more magical and enjoyable, but if it's really foggy it can be easy to miss landmarks, trail intersections, etc. you've eyeballed scores of times before.

I had no choice but to night-hike twice last year in Maine--both times descending precariously infamous rockpiles (I'd never been on before) in rain and fog. No thanks!

Pooja Blue
12-29-2004, 03:23
I hated night hiking at first. Hiking so late in the year necessitated some night hiking, though; there just weren't enough daylight hours. With a strong moon, good electric light, and reasonable terrain, I ended up enjoying it.

12-29-2004, 12:19
...you miss the surrounding scenery. I only night hike when I've already been through an area in the day, or know there’s nothing to see along the route. I use a Petzl Duo, with 5 LEDS; rarely use the halogen high beam. I do not recommend the variable brightness features they offer on one type unit they sell, the computer chip used can do some funky stuff when your batteries get low, will even cut off, stay with the one power job. Also, hiking with a headlamp causes major visual problems in rocky areas (you get a 2 dimensional rather than a 3 dimensional view) and also in fog. Fog reflects the light back in your face; I usually have to hand carry the headlight at this point. I also carry a minimag
2-AA as backup.

12-29-2004, 13:48
Hike at night, check out the comet:

Comet Machholz Dances Across Night Skies (http://www.mywisecounty.com/news/122904-3.htm)

12-29-2004, 14:16
I hiked from Duncannon to the other side of Peters Mountain in PA this Past summer all in the dark w/o headlight action starting at like 8 pm to avoid busy shelters

12-29-2004, 17:24
I hiked 62 miles over the past 2 days on the Georgia AT with 32 of them at night. I usually wake up around 1or 2am when backpacking, so I often break camp early and hike the first 5-6 hours in the dark.

12-30-2004, 03:33
I night-hiked three times on purpose on my thru-hike, both on a full moon. The first time was just out of Damascus, and the leaves weren't on the trees yet. I'd hiked out of Damascus and took a nap at Saunders Shelter, then when the moon came up I hiked with Brer Rabbit another 6.4 miles to Lost Mtn. Shelter. That was a great hike - part of the Trail goes along the Creeper Trail, and with no leaves on the trees it was bright enough to read my trail guide. I could feeli the trail beneath my feet, and didn't even need to see it. We never turned on our headlamps the entire time, and it was just magical.

The second time was in the Shenandoahs, a month later, at the next full moon. There were several of us hiking - Waterfall, Foggy Bottom, and Redbeard. None of us could see anything, because there were leaves on the trees. Besides, we'd just eaten a full meal and a few beers at Skyland. Anyway, we kept stumbling over rocks and roots, though the night view of Luray was nice. No headlamps.

The last time was coming into Delaware Water Gap from Palmerton. Sugar Daddy and I did the entire distance overnight, leaving Palmerton around three in the afternoon, and getting into DWG the next day before noon (the post office was closing). That section, of course, is the worst PA rocks of the whole state, and we hiked it at night, in the rain. We used headlamps, but I still ended up slicing a huge gash in my shoe.

I'm glad I did all those times night hiking, but I'd recommend trying it without leaves on the trees. That first time was truly amazing, everything in black and white, no depth perception, feeling the trail instead of seeing it. I'll definitely night hike again.


12-30-2004, 03:35
Sorry, guess I can't edit posts. That should read "the first two times on a full moon" not "both on a full moon".


01-04-2005, 17:26
just curious on how many hikers hike at night?
Oh yeah. I was given the name "night walker" within about 3 days.

Sleep late, start late, hike late.


The Solemates
01-04-2005, 17:41
Only very occasionally do we hike at night. On our thru we did some, but only if we had 0-3 miles or so to go for the night on a long day.

That said, over the holidays we got up early on our last day out and hiked 3 miles or so before sunrise since the people we were hiking with had to be back home by noon, we had a 5 mile hike and it was a 2 hour drive. It was a great experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The sunrise was spectacular, which helped.

I also trail run a bit in a local park at night. I use my headlamp and my dog always goes with me. Plus, I know the area fairly well.

01-04-2005, 18:23
Closest I came to a night hike recently was in 2003 on my thru-hike. I got up at around 3:30 and hiked from Cable Gap Shelter into Fontana. Didn't do it for the "night-hike experience" though. I was trying to get into Fontana bright and early so that I could resupply and get the heck back out on the trail.

I guess I just had my fill of "night hiking" experiences in the military (1968 - 1971). Stakes were higher then and I just never got used to the feeling that someone had me zeroed in with their twilight scope.

AT 2003

Rain Man
01-04-2005, 22:04
I climbed Standing Indian Mountain in the dark one moonless night. I could "feel" the trail. Only lost the trail in a dark, dark, dark rhodondenron tunnel near the top.

Read about it if you like.
Rain Man


Papa Razzi
01-04-2005, 23:50
While I haven't backpacked at night, I've still managed to find myself on the AT after dark. I did a 24 hour rogaine last May in Caledonia State Park, PA. We hit the ridgeline of Rocky Mountain right as darkness fell and followed it north until the AT joined it. We stayed on or around the AT for a mile or two until it crossed Route 30. We found two of the three checkpoints on the ridge, though we missed the one that everyone else found. I'm sure this differs from the normal night hiking experience on the AT, but it was a blast nonetheless.