Night hikes feel like odysseys through a parallel universe. The familiar elements of the day are replaced by strange counterparts. The sun is replaced by a ghostly reflection, and the songs of birds are replaced by the eerily similar chirping of bats. The outlines of plants and stones, cloaked in a veil of darkness, appear suddenly and unexpectedly. And it is all wonderful!
Here in Tucson, the summer is really starting to heat up, and hiking during the day can be nearly unbearable. Night hiking is the brilliant solution to this problem. The weather is much cooler, you have the trails to yourself, and you can explore the brilliant nightscapes of your familiar daytime hikes.
Night Hiking Tips
- Go when the moon is close to full. Once my eyes adjusted, I found that the moon provided enough light to hike. Check this site for moon rise/set times and lunar luminosity (fullness).
- Bring two lights. The moon does not always provide enough light, particularly if the terrain is rocky or the weather is overcast. Bring two! I had a flashlight break in the middle of a Hawaiian lava field. With no back up, I was stuck trying to get back with nothing but my phone for light. Needless to say this is a major pain.
- Bring a GPS unit or a compass or both. It is much easier to get lost in the dark. Landmarks are difficult to spot, and it is much easier to accidentally get off the trail.
- Bring Water. It may be cooler, but you still need to drink.
- If you plan on taking pictures, you will need a tripod and a remote shutter release cable. Both the images above were taken using 20+ second exposures.