‘What a difference a night makes’, as the song almost goes!
It can be a challenge to keep up the hiking in the short winter days so I got a good head-torch. Made all the difference and I’ve done quite a bit of night hiking recently.
It’s another world, great, out of the ordinary! It’s when the wildlife seems to wake up and start moving about!
Just tonight a big mountain hare came charging towards me – making a rapid getaway from a predator hunting for supper, only saw a quick shadow but probably a fox.The hare saw me, jammed on his brakes about 3 or 4 metres from me, did an instant 180 back the way he came, thought better of it when he was almost in the jaws of the predator, back towards me again, another instant 180 and started back again. The penny dropped for him at that point – he didn’t like being the meat in the sandwich and bolted off at an angle into the trees! All went silent then – these two characters obviously hadn’t expected some crazy hiker to interrupt the party! Quite something!
In one way sorta glad the days of wild boars, wolves, etc, are long gone. But in another way I’m not glad, for many reasons.
One other thing that fascinates me: I’m not an overly-nervous person or someone who’s into conjuring up irrational or paranoid fearful imaginings. But once in a while out night hiking I have found myself focusing to pick up unexplained sounds and occasionally checking behind me!
I think it must be one of our primeval responses buried deep in our DNA from a time when seriously dangerous wild animals roamed our countryside. I guess it’s just interesting that those responses still pop their heads above the parapet after thousands of years – they are still there and have to be dealt with in a rational way.
It’s one of the many things I love about the remote outdoors – it’s a re-connection with the greater nature, as well as one’s own, that’s just not possible in dense urban, cosmopolitan life, and I’m not referring to being careful of muggers, drunks, etc. I think human nature is not at all the better of losing that connection.
A few suggestions if you’re thinking of trying some night hiking:
- bring a fully charged mobile phone but remember there may be no coverage in the mountains
- good head-torch and spare batteries (I got a Black Diamond Storm 160 and I can recommend it)
- extra-thorough preparation in term of the right clothing and equipment
- make sure to stay on very familiar trails – so easy to get lost since landmarks are not easily visible
- likely nobody else will be out so move carefully – don’t take unnecessary risks that could injure and immobilise