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Hiker Midnight: Taking A Break in the Darkness

Read Time: Approximately 5 minutes

Hikers in the dark are often met with a feeling of trepidation and fear because they can’t see what’s coming up ahead on the trail. However, hiker midnight also has many benefits: it creates opportunities to enjoy night sounds, experience night on the trail, allows hikers to bond at shelters, and get that all-needed, recuperative rest.

Hiker midnight is a term used for when the daytime evaporates (typically around 9 pm) as night comes fast once on the trail and you don’t have city lights. This time can be used in many ways that help build trail friendships and to let exhausted hikers shut it down and get up early the next day.

For many new thru-hikers, they will think the nights will be rambunctious party time but in reality, for nearly all on the trail you will be torched from the 12-20+ miles hiked in the day and bed will sound amazing.

Why Early Bed Helps Thru-Hikers

There are many reasons why you want to have an early bedtime when you are on the trail, especially in those first weeks when you are adjusting to the trail life.

Bedtime is the best time for hikers to let their thoughts and emotions out, many will journal on their phones as this is when many old memories can flood back from your memories long forgotten.

Recuperative Sleep

The most important reason is to get your recuperative sleep. When you hiked all day, the need for rest and recovery is essential in avoiding injury or getting sick on trail.

You will find if you hike hard all day it will be difficult to stay up once the sun goes down. Instead, you want to focus on resting so your body can prepare for the next day of hard hiking to come.

It can take a bit to adjust to sleeping on the trail and quality sleep at first will be hard to come by as many will toss and turn leading to less quality rest.

Easy to Wake Early

Most thru-hikers start their hiking days early as it allows you to make more miles in the day and less time spent in camp.

The earlier you get up in the morning, the more hiking miles you can make in the day, and while some will try to sleep in later on their first days, it’s typically hard to rest once the sun is up and people are active.

This is where an early bedtime helps out immensely by allowing hikers to wake up easily when they want or need to.

In addition, the sound of birds and wildlife will help rouse your body from slumber as nature is typically active before sunrise. In fact, this can be a nice alarm clock that many hikers love waking up to.

Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Go to Bed Early

There are some reasons why you may choose to not go to bed early and instead hike or enjoy the end of your day in the dark.

If you are hiking with a tramily, it may be nice to just relax and talk and share stories. You can let out some emotions or stress together which makes for a bonding experience during the hike.

Explore Night Hiking

The night makes for a great time to explore and check out the night sky without the city lights and associated light pollution. There is a whole world that opens up when you take away those city lights and let yourself be immersed in nature’s masterpiece of stars above with hardly any light pollution for miles around.

Add on the ability to hike at night when the daytime temperatures are extreme and there are many reasons why you should explore night hiking on your thru-hike.

Having the opportunity to hike at night is a great way to break up the monotony of day after day of hiking and seeing more than just trees along the trail. It gives hikers an entirely different perspective while still being safe with proper gear, knowledge, and experience.

Even if you aren’t an avid night hiker on the trail, it’s a great time to learn and enjoy what nature has on display at night as long as you do so safely with proper gear and knowledge of how to do so. You don’t want hikers getting hurt or lost because they ventured out unprepared into the dark!

Bond with Your Fellow Hikers at a Shelter

Even hiker midnight has a number of positive impacts on other hikers as this is the time that many will congregate at shelters or campsites and enjoy conversation, laughter, stories, and bonding to go around.

This can be nice because it helps form those relationships with like-minded hikers who are going through similar experiences but from incredibly different places in life which make for amazing conversations.

When the end of the day comes, many will choose to huddle around the shelter and the groups will sit around a fire to stay warm or enjoy their meal while talking about what’s happened on the trail along with what may be coming up next.

This isn’t just nice for socializing but it can be a great learning experience as you get fresh perspectives from others who have hiked different places and done alternate trails that may have helped them avoid certain challenges you are now finding yourself facing.

Final Thoughts on Hiker Midnight

If you want to have a positive experience on your thru-hike, it’s important that you get enough sleep to aid in proper recovery when abusing your body day in and out.

When the end of the day comes, many will choose to huddle around the shelter and the groups will sit around a fire to stay warm or enjoy their meal while talking about what’s happened on the trail along with what may be coming up next.

This can be nice because it helps form those relationships with like-minded hikers who are going through similar experiences but from incredibly different places in life which make for amazing conversations.

The hours of darkness are a time to bond with your fellow hikers while you share stories, laugh together, and learn new perspectives on the trail. It’s an important part of any thru-hike that should not be taken for granted!

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Bikergeoff

Monday 14th of March 2022

Yo Josh, before recommending hiking at night, I would suggest considering what kind of wildlife resides in the area. I wouldn't be doing any night hiking in areas like Great Basin National Park. Was there last year and mountain lion warnings were VERY prevalent. Also, one might want to consider the presence of sand rattlers that exist in considerable numbers as in the desert north of Moab. Camped on BLM land last year near Dead Horse Point and the locals were WELL AWARE of not wandering around too much in the dark. If you involved in winter mountaineering like I was, nocturnal predators in the Northeast are usually not a problem as bears hibernate. In Alaska though, a nightly stroll or jog may have ya running for your life from a Wolfpack. It HAS happened. Just a reminder that the world of nature doesn't take it's foot off of the gas just cause night falls.

Josh

Monday 14th of March 2022

100% I agree and understand your concern, most people on thru-hikes will hike at night at least in part because summers are expressly warmer than Spring and Fall but also far more generally human-influenced. Of course, all people when hiking need to learn and know the local wildlife and dangers associated with risks they take but those are not something a blog post can cover without being wildly vague and useless to most readers in general.