4 Things to Watch for When Hiking at Night

Pros and Cons for Hiking at Night

Some people love to go hiking, but they usually do it during the day to be safe.  While there are risks to hiking at night, there are also many things you can’t see during the day.  It’s a hard choice to choose between one and the other, but if given the chance you will want to try hiking at night at least once.  We’ve set up this guide to help you in the pitfalls of what you could expect and how to prepare for them, as well as the highlights of what you can expect.  The biggest thing to remember is your safety and there is always safety in numbers.  It’s best to do hiking at night with at least one other person, but a group of 4 or more is even better.  Essentially the more eyes that can see around you when visibility is low the better your chances of a safe hike in the wilderness.

(Keep in mind that the hiking we are referring to is in the forests or jungles, not in the inner city.)

Nature

Comfreak / Pixabay

Nature for some can be their own worst enemy.  At night this could not be truer.  Nature has a way of telling you when things are different, and nature looks very different at night than it does during the day.  When you are hiking through a thick forest you will be in almost total darkness.  The stars might not be visible, and you will have to rely on flashlights and lanterns to see.  A lantern will only illuminate a short space around you, while a flashlight will concentrate a beam of light a much further direction, but only where you point it.  With multiple people in your party you can see more around you, especially the ground where you are walking.  (more on this later)

The trees will look darker in the night, and if you are not careful you could walk into trees or bushes, especially low hanging branches.  But there is beauty to be found too.  At night there will be different species of animals that you won’t see during the day.  There could be plants that bloom at night.  And if you catch it as the sun goes down you are going to see a different type of light in the forest that has a beauty all its own.

Sight

Hiking at night will open new sights for you that you can’t see during the day.  You do have to let your eyes adjust to the darkness as seeing them with the artificial

surgull01 / Pixabay

light of your flashlight is different.  If there is a clearing that is big enough for your group, hike into it safely with the use of your lights.  Than once everyone is ready, all of you turn off your lights at the same time and let your eyes adjust.  Once they do you can see the beauty of the forest at night.  The difference is astounding and something you will remember.  You might see animals that you don’t normally see during the day, with several that you do.  Owls and bats make their way at night as do raccoons, possum, and don’t forget the predators.

It also allows you a clear and open view of the stars, one that seems to go on for miles and lights up the sky on a clear night.  Living in the city dims your view of this spectacle, but out in the middle of nowhere you can see just how bright and numerous those stars can be.

Sounds

If you live in the country, the sounds won’t be much different.  There will be hoots and tweets, chirps and squeaks that you might not be familiar with, but they are similar.  If you live in the city however, those sounds are going to be very different from what you are used to.  For one it is much quitter, at times so quite that you can hear yourself breathing, or even hear your own heartbeat.  You might need to quite your breathing so that you can breathe in the sounds around you, listening to every twig snap, every bush shake, and every creature stir at night.  The sound of a stick breaking in a quite forest can sound loud, and carry for a long way.  It can be disturbing for those not used to the silence, but is also peaceful.

Watch the Ground

PGloutnay / Pixabay

When taking a long hike at night, in woods that you are unfamiliar with, it is important to not only watch around you, but to watch where you are walking.  The ground can be uneven, rough, or full of holes and if you don’t pay attention to it, you could be hurt.  There are cliffs if you are climbing up the mountain, some that slope and some that have a sheer drop.

(Doing a night hike years ago with several friends we had one guy slip and fall down a slope.  Luckily, he didn’t fall far, but one little slip could have taken him a lot further.)  Keep in mind that animals use these trails at times and might leave scat on them.  You don’t want to step in that as the smell will stay with you for a while.  And if you can identify the scat if you come across some, you can tell what animals might be around you at night.  Don’t just pay attention to the ground though as you don’t want to hit your head on low hanging branches or walk into thorns either.

What to Bring

The first thing I would tell you to bring is friends, then flashlights and lanterns, rope, blankets to lay on, and some snacks.  If this is just a hike in and out, you won’t need much more than that, if you are camping though you are going to want to bring your full gear.  The rope can be used in case someone does slide down a hill or drop and needs help getting back up.  It can also be used for everyone to hold onto so nobody gets lost.

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