How Night Hiking Works

Author's Note: How Night Hiking Works

Several years ago, I was vacationing in Jekyll Island, Ga., and I couldn't sleep. After tossing and turning for a couple hours, I shrugged into a sweater and headed out to the beach.

A city girl like me rarely bothers to look up at the night sky. It's usually orange and depressing, a haze of smog and streetlamps. I'd never seen anything like the night sky I discovered in Jekyll Island. These weren't just stars; they were great, crusty swaths of universe: Stars upon stars upon stars, some big as fists, some tiny as diamonds. I could literally feel the energy streaming off of them.

Lying on my back in the starlight, I felt about a million things all at the same time: infinitesimal and macroscopic, all alone and completely connected. Writing this article made me smile to remember my occasional nocturnal wanderings, like the one in Jekyll Island. I loved discovering that there is a whole dark-sky movement dedicated to controlling light pollution and protecting the few areas of truly dark sky that remain in our world. Visit the International Dark-Sky Association to learn more.

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  • American Optometric Association. "The Eye and Night Vision." (July 5, 2012).
  • Moon, Yonder. "Hiking by the Light of the Silvery Moon." The New York Times. Nov. 11, 2005. (July 5, 2012)
  • "Gear." Sept. 26, 2007. (July 5, 2012)
  • Ramirez, Debbie. Hiker from Santa Fe. Personal Interview. July 5, 2012.
  • REI. "Day Hiking Checklist." (July 5, 2012)
  • "2012 Meteor Showers." (July 5, 2012)
  • Vlahos, James. "Star Trek: Yosemite to the Moon." National Geographic Traveler. July/August, 2011. (July 5, 2012)
  • Young, Sarah Moïse. "Top 3 Night Hikes." Backpacker Magazine. November 2008. (July 5, 2012)