Category Archives: Night

GetOut! Your Nudge for Weekend Adventure

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: read more

This Sunday’s fall back (and what it means to you)

On Sunday, we’ll turn our clocks back one hour as we leave Daylight Saving Time. That means we will no longer have the extra hour of sunlight we’ve enjoyed at day’s end since March 11. On Saturday, sunset in the Raleigh area is at 6:16:44 p.m.; on Sunday, when we switch back to Standard Time, it’s at 5:15:46 p.m. Poof! Just like that.

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!

Happy trails,


Explore the night read more

This winter, enjoy the solitude of a night hike

It was a late November night in the late 1990s and Alan and I were hiking a stretch of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along Falls Lake. Though we’d been mountain biking at night for two or three years, the notion of hiking in the dark had only recently occurred to us. Making our way through the woods in the quiet of night made us a bit giddy; instead of two guys in their late 40s, we were like a couple of 10-year-olds who’d snuck out of our bedroom windows on a clandestine adventure.

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?

Happy trails,


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.

GetOut! Your Nudge for Weekend Adventure

After a teasing blast of fall early in the week, we’re back to the realities of July in the Southeast this weekend. Not a bad thing, just something to take into account as you plan your weekend. We share our thoughts on what might make for a grand weekend of adventure below.

Canoe 101, read more

Goodbye Daylight Saving Time, Hello Night Hike

It’s happening, people! Starting this Sunday, that dwindling daylight will sharply ratchet back an hour. So, while you might be able to sneak in a quick hike after work this evening before the sun sets at 6:19 p.m., next week you’ll be hard pressed to hike before the 5:12 p.m. sunset.

What to do?

Night hike!

Hiking at night offers some special rewards not found during the day. This type of hiking calls for different levels of concentration, as you focus on a close world circumscribed by an orb of light as you scan for footing; this problem-solving aspect of hiking is one of the things that improves not only body but also mind. You can tune in to the sounds of night life, which is not the same as the sounds of daytime critters (more owls than warblers, more raccoons than squirrels). And if you pause and look up, you can see the glories of the night sky (pausing is key; we have tried to hike while looking up at the stars and it ended badly). It’s a special place, the night world, and it is one well worth exploring.

We get that night hiking isn’t for everyone. If you’re hopelessly scared of the dark or have very poor night vision, for instance, you might want to pass. But for the rest of you open to the concept, we have some tips for you.

=&0=&. This is a must. Flashlights, work, sure, but you really want to keep your hands free. You can get a decent one for as little as $15; note that LEDs cast a more hike-friendly light. Be sure to pack both extra batteries and a spare light (a little pen light will do, so you can see to change out your batteries).
=&1=&. Night hiking takes some getting used to. Your world is confined to the glow of your headlamp, and it takes some concentration to focus on such a limited portion of the trail. Surprisingly, it can be a sensory overload, as your other senses tune in to the world beyond the scope of your light. So don’t overstay on your first outing.
=&2=&. Even though it’s dark, familiarity is a huge plus. You’ll be amazed at how things you didn’t think you noticed during the day will pop out as key markers of where you are on the trail.
=&3=&. It takes a bit more effort to scout out the blazes at night rather than in the day. The best way to tell whether you’ve wandered off the beaten path is if your boots are suddenly sinking into soft, untrodden leaf litter. Backtrack and seek out firm footing.
=&4=&. Nighttime is cooler than day, of course. Counter the chill with one more layer than you think you’ll need; you can always shed a layer later.
=&5=&. I do a lot of soloing, but not at night.
=&6=&. If your light goes out, you’re really in the dark.
=&7=&. Even a $5 keychain light can be a lifesaver if your main torch goes out. (Ever try to change batteries in the dark?)
=&8=&.* You should already have these in your daypack, but make extra sure you have them at night.
=&9=&. Just because it’s dark doesn’t mean you can’t get dehydrated. And  hiking in the cool air while concentrating on the trail will burn some calories; you’ll be glad to have the extra fuel.
=&10=&. Because that’s one reason you’re hiking at night!