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[at-l] Re: nite hiking
>While talking to a friend last nite,he said something that makes sense but
>may not be practacal (sp). We were talking about staying in the cold (
>comparing war stories ) when he said " why don't you hike at nite when it's
>the coldest, use the exercise to keep warm, and then sleep during the day
>while it's not so cold"
>Has anyone tried that or even heard of it being done?
I am an advocate of the nite hike for several reasons, some of which may
not be of interest to you. I have been forced to hike (ski) at night as
well as having chose to.
First, from the practical viewpoint. When I hiked the PCT, we found that
by taking a long siesta in the High Sierra afternoon, which was usually hot
and the snow had softened too much to make any forward progress, eating an
early supper while on break, and then heading out into the much cooler
evening, we could make much better progress than by fighting it. I took
this experience to other trips that involve snow travel (long spring ski
trips for me but dog mushers do this as well, especially as dogs do poorly
in the "heat" of mid-day) and it has always worked well.
There have been many times when I under-estimated the country I was
crossing or over-estimated my ability to get through it and have ended up
hiking at night, sometimes through the entire night and into the next day.
Of course, the Alaskan summer night is not much of a night, but I have also
done this in fall here and "down south" in summer. I have found these night
walks to be some of the most memorable walks I've ever done, mainly because
my senses are very keen.
There is something about darkness and the human psyche that is forgotten
about until one experiences it. In a word, fear. You will find yourself
straining to listen to every sound "out there" or see every "monster" (I
live in grizzly country and I have lost count how many bears turned out to
be tree stumps, whew...). You will be more "alive" than you have probably
been in a long time, and so I always heartily recommend night hiking. When
I know I am going to be out in the dark, I carry a flashlight or headlamp (I
have been on trips where 3 headlamps all failed and if it weren't for my
cheap keychain light, we would not have been able to rappel out of the
situation we were in) but I do not use the light unless I have to as I have
found it interfers with the mood and my peripheral vision. It would be wise
to leave a plan with someone you can trust too, but I admit that I have a
poor record of doing this (I am getting better).
I am also an afficiado (?) of that sibling of the night hike, the bivouac,
both forced and planned. For me, this has generally occured not on a hike
(at least not trail) but in a climbing situation, where we simply ran out of
time and light and were forced to spend the night tied into a small ledge,
teeth-chattering the night away between hallucinagenic slips into sleep.
However, a planned bivouac (no sleeping bags; that is cheating, not a true
bivy) would make for a good overnight trip. Basically, make sure you have
enough outerwear to put on to keep you somewhat warm through the night.
Also a cookset and some hot drinks makes for a very comfortable bivy, and
any true bivy purist will tell you that is cheating as well. Find a good
comfy spot out of any breeze, settle in and enjoy. Sing a few songs.
Examine your life and choices. Pray. Whatever. I can guarantee that come
morning, you will not be quite the same person you were the evening before.
If you doubt me, then read John Muir's tale of the night he spent surviving
a forced bivouac on Mt. Shasta.
Best of all, both the night walk and the bivy will give you experience
dealing with these situations BEFORE you are forced to in an emergency, and
you will feel much stronger for it. Try it - you might like it and then
people will REALLY think you are strange.
THE DISCLAIMER: Those of you who enjoy blaming others for your problems and
talking with your lawyers about various means to make you both rich, take note.
Night hiking and bivoucing are hazardous to your health and may cause death,
symbolically if not literally, or serious injury. You are therefore
instructed to forget this message altogether and go crawl back into your
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