We came to a stop in the narrow clearing accommodating a power line and switched off our headlamps. We’d reached the turnaround point for our weekly Tuesday Night Hike, and as was our habit, we went dark for several minutes. The sun was long gone, having set two hours earlier, and the moon was just starting to think about cresting the eastern horizon. It was dark, really dark, and it took our eyes a minute to adjust. Our psyches, too.
We typically wait until the end of Daylight Saving Time to advocate hiking at night, for strapping on a headlamp and venturing down your favorite trails after dark. We’ve long been fans of hiking in night in winter because, for those of us in the workforce, it’s typically the only time we can work in a midweek hike. The sun sets at 5 p.m., before the whistle blows at the Widget Works, who cares? You’ve got a 300-lumen torch strapped to your forehead to light the way.
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
What to do on the last weekend of July? We have a thought or two …
Geology of Stone Mountain, Saturday, 9 a.m., Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap. No doubt you’ve looked at that strange forehead protruding from the ground, the one from which Stone Mountain gets its name, and wondered, How did that happen? Here, at this one hour program at the Hutchinson Homestead, is your chance to find out. And if you’re left at the end yearning for more, eager to know all about Stone Mountain, then stick around until 2 p.m. for “All About Stone Mountain.” (You can do some hiking in between to pass the time.) For more info on both programs and to register, go here.
=&1=&, Saturday, 8 p.m., Haw River State Park Iron Ore Belt Access, Greensboro. We love a night hike, and we especially love one where we’re not compelled to watch our every footstep to avoid rocks and roots in the trail. On the smooth-as-sandstone 3.8-mile Great Blue Heron Trail you’ll be able to focus on the wonder of the night. Bring a flashlight/headlamp with red or blue filter, bring bug spray and water. For more info and to register, go here.
=&2=&, Sunday, 11 a.m., Mount Mitchell State Park. Visiting Mount Mitchell, which tops out at 6,684 feet, is like visiting another world — so many unusual things to see at that elevation. Sunday, let a ranger explain what it is your seeing and why it’s there on this guided hike on the Balsam Trail. More info and register here.
You can find more opportunities this weekend here:
- North Carolina State Parks have a variety of adventures planned for the weekend. Check those options here.
- North Carolina Environmental Education Centers has an extensive calendar of what’s happening at its affiliates; check it out here.
- You can also find more adventures right here, at GetGoingNC.com.
And learn more about where we spent this past week, featured in the video, by visiting the web sites for
Umstead State Park