TIPS FOR KEEPING SAFE ON A NIGHT HIKE
Hiking at night is worlds apart from day hiking. The darkness transforms the countryside into another world, exposing all the creatures which spend the day hiding and giving you a symphony of sounds to accompany your walk.
The eerie beauty is certainly something to behold. But the risks are heightened at night. There is less margin for error and setting off full steam into the darkness without adequate preparation can end badly for everyone involved, and usually does. Here are some tips to keep you safe when stomping the trails at night.
This sounds obvious but it cannot be stressed enough. Bring heaps of lights. Not just one small torch that couldn’t illuminate the end of your nose. You will need a couple of powerful torches and spare batteries, at least. You might not use them all, after all, the fun is seeing the world from the perspective of darkness. But if an accident happens, you will want to be able to light the area up like the Sydney Opera House on New Year’s Eve to deal with it.
DON’T GO ALONE
While you can get away with hiking alone in the daytime, at night it’s not a good idea. With more animals, out and about at night, it’s better to go in a group. Remember, you don’t have to outrun the animal trying to tear you limb from limb, you just have to outrun the slowest member of your party.
RESPECT THE WILDLIFE
Don’t disturb them and shine lights in their face. Admire them from a distance and let them go about their nightly wanderings.
Again, it sounds like a blatantly obvious suggestion, but it needs reiterating. Many insects and spiders hunt at night and you will likely find you are sharing the trail with all manner of wandering insects. I would wear long hiking trousers on every night hike, just to avoid anything shooting up your leg before you have the chance to shake it off.
PICK A TRAIL YOU ARE FAMILIAR WITH
The pitch black isn’t the best time to start exploring new trails. You won’t be able to see the view and it could be incredibly dangerous if you don’t know the trail well. Even a trail you have walked 100 times in the daytime has a totally different feel at night and you will get something out of it. Hiking territory you’re not familiar with at night is just too risky to consider. Pick a trail you know well so you don’t get lost.
PACK PLENTY OF FOOD AND WATER
Speaking of getting lost, the chances of you losing the trail are much higher at night. If you do, you might need to wait until morning to get back on track. Make sure you have enough food and water to last at least until the sun comes up. It is cooler at night, but you still need to stay hydrated.
Whatever you do, don’t go off walking at night when you’re drunk, which seems to happen more often than not.
Do you have any experience with night hiking? Share your thoughts and advice through the comments section below.