Monday, August 8, 2016

Down a Dark Mountain

I've been wanting to get some nice sunset photos, and it seemed to me that the best vantage point would be the top of a mountain.  The only problem is that if you stay at the summit for the sunset, you have to hike down in the dark.

I'm not the most experienced hiker.  I've only been at this for a short time. So, I did what I do and consulted the internet.  Article after article said that you should never ever hike alone at night, that it wasn't smart or safe to go alone, especially if you're not an experienced hiker.

The articles stressed that this should only ever be done in good weather, on mountains you were super familiar with.

So, I told a few people what I was up to, and proceeded to climb Sleeping Beauty to take pictures of the sunset.  Alone.

It was a beautiful night, although there was a bit more cloud cover than I would have desired.  The clouds can make for more dramatic photos, but when there are too many, it just obscures most of the sunset, which is what eventually happened.  Before then, though, I managed to get a few pictures I was happy with.

There was a large group of hikers on the summit, obviously also there to watch the setting sun.  I could have hiked down with their group for safety, but by then I had set my mind on doing it alone.

So, once the sun set, I waited.  And once all the other hikers had gone, I waited.  I gave it about ten or fifteen minutes, just to be sure I wouldn't run into them on the way down.

The clouds had all but completely covered the sky and the second I started down the trail, it began to rain.  What could I do at that point but be glad my hiking boots were waterproof?  I turned on my headlamp and continued on.

At first I stumbled a few times, unused to judging the uneven ground in the beam of the headlamp, but after a few minutes I grew more sure of myself and had little trouble navigating.  I actually found that it was easier to see the trail markers in the dark as they reflected my light back to me. 

Once, I snagged my shoe lace on a tree stump as I took a step down and nearly fell, but I hopped around on one foot until I got free.  The rest really was smooth sailing.  I heard the other hikers up ahead calling someone's name once, but otherwise didn't see or hear anyone until I got to the end of the trail.  It didn't rain hard, just enough to make the trail squelchy in spots, and the dark trail and feeling of being utterly alone in the forest at night lent me some great ideas for a horror movie.

Before I knew it, I could see the lights of the group that had left before me gathered at the end of the trail just up ahead.  I had successfully completed my first night hike alone on a cloudy, rainy night. 

I can't wait to do it again!

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