When we head down the trail, one of our goals is to head out of our lives. Not that we’re escaping ourselves — necessarily. Rather, the parts of our life — the social media babble, the job, a demanding cat — from which we need a break. Curious that we seek to escape by heading somewhere so open and exposed. Even curiouser that it’s so effective.
Summer called: it misses you and wants you to know it won’t be around forever — would it hurt you to pay a visit?
Did I say summer or your mother? In any event, Labor Day weekend, the ceremonial end of summer, is in three weeks and we have a most summer-friendly weekend on tap that you should get out and enjoy (before it’s too late): temperatures in the upper 80s under mostly sunny skies. Get Out and enjoy!
After a dang cold week we’re heading into a darn nice weekend, with mostly sunny skies and temperatures, brace yourself, reaching 60.
So if you’ve been hibernating so far this winter, now’s your chance to emerge from your den for an adventure. An adventure such as:
Here are a few things to keep in mind with the time change:
- We have an hour more daylight in the morning. The extra hour is nice if you like to get in a morning run, ride or walk before work. On Saturday, sunrise is at 7:39:30 a.m.; Sunday, it’s 6:40:31 a.m.
- Plan your afternoon adventures accordingly. It’s easy to keep thinking, “Ahh, I’ll be done by 6.” But if you’re done at 6 p.m. on Sunday, the sun already set 45 minutes earlier and you’ll be 20 minutes past twilight. It will be dark. Better bring a headlamp.
- Don’t despair: it won’t last long. We will only lose another 15 minutes of afternoon sunlight before the tide turns. Though overall daylight keeps diminishing until Dec. 21, the first day of winter, we actually start regaining afternoon sun on Dec. 6. In fact, by the time December is over we will have gained back 10 minutes of afternoon sunlight.
- Don’t be afraid of the dark. We love going out at night, especially with the aid of today’s versatile and lightweight headlamps. Every other Tuesday from Nov. 20 through March 5, we’ll be doing a night hike that starts at 7 p.m. We’ll hike different spots around the Triangle, exposing you to some great night hike options. We’ve got loaner headlamps. And, this being GetHiking!, there’s no chance of getting dropped; we lead our hikes from the rear, so nobody gets left in the dark. It’s a great way to get on the trail during winter.
- You can put that time to good use. After the holiday hubbub settles, we’ll be doing weeknight seminars on a variety of hiking and backpacking topics. This is an excellent time to start planning what to do when the sunshine returns. Watch for details in early December.
- March 10 is only 140 days away. March 10, at 2 a.m. — that’s when Daylight Saving Time returns.
Come explore with us on the dark side!
Explore the night
Clandestine, in part, because the end of Daylight Saving Time traditionally meant the end of getting in a midweek hike after work. We were supposed to concede to the night, to restrict ourselves weekend hikes only. We were expected to go into midweek hibernation.
Instead, we were reinventing the notion of winter hiking.
Cone of Solitude
On a night hike, your world is reduced to the 20-foot-or-so beam of light cast by your headlamp. Your world is shrunk to what your lumens can illuminate, and there’s a certain degree of comfort in that. Think of how overwhelming it can be navigating a crowded downtown street at lunch, or making your way through the mall on a Saturday afternoon. On the trail at night, your headlamp reduces your world to an impenetrable fortress. Maxwell Smart had his Cone of Silence, a night hike offers a cone of solitude.
Another curious thing about your 20-foot world? It actually makes hiking safer. People fear they’ll be stumbling and bumbling down the trail on a night hike, that hiking in the dark isn’t only unsafe, it’s insane. In reality, with your world reduced to the 20 feet of trail in front of you, you’re less likely to be distracted by the visual temptations beyond. At night, it’s almost instinctual that you stop whenever you’re tempted to look off trail. You trip over far fewer rocks and roots in the dark.
That said …
Not every trail is meant for a night hike. Many, for instance, have hours and it’s considered trespassing if you disregard them. Trails that have steep drops or that aren’t particularly well blazed may be off the trail as well: there’s a good deal of looking down on a night hike, making it easy to miss a subtle turn. On a night hike, you stop and take stock of your location, checking for blazes more often than you do during the day. You do a number of things differently on a night hike (for tips on how to best approach a night hike see the link to a post from last year, below).
All of this is why we suggest you tag along with us on our new monthly night hike series, which begins this month and runs through the last week of Standard Time. We know the places that are legal to hike between dusk and dawn, and for the places where it’s not allowed, we get permission. We have extra headlamps, we have extra batteries, and we’ll share some thoughts about navigating at night. If you’re intrigued by the idea of getting in a midweek hike year-round, but are hesitant about hiking in the dark on your own, it’s a good opportunity.
Besides, when was the last time you snuck out your bedroom window at night to have a little fun?
Come night hike with us
In the Triangle, we’re about to launch our Tuesday Night Hikes series, one night hike a month, on a Tuesday, at a different spot around the area. It’s a good introduction for the night-hike curious. Learn more and register here.
Learn more about night hiking
Before you join us for our Tuesday Night Hikes, check out our post, Goodbye Daylight Saving Time, Hello Night Hike, from this time last year, where you’ll find tips on night hiking, from the gear you need to evaluating a good trail for night hiking, to the assorted benefits of hiking under the stars. Check it out.
Cone of Silence?
See this marvel of Cold War spy technology in action here.