Hiking in the Moonlight

This Saturday night, when most people were getting ready to plan their evenings out on the town, I was getting myself ready to enter the wilderness. I had signed up for a Full Moon Hike through Outdoor Bound. So I gathered my new headlamp, my water bottle, some snacks and my backpack. I was ready to go.

I had been worried about the weather since showers were in the forecast. All day it looked dreary and cloudy. I wondered how I would be hiking in the moonlight if there was no visible moon? But the trip was still a go so I met up with my group at 7pm. We ventured out of the city and were on our way to Harriman State Park in upstate NY. It was about an hour drive away from the city.

As we drove, there were some rain showers and only cloudy skies. I just hoped the weather would hold out when we got there. Luckily as we were driving up the mountain it looked like the rain had stopped! Hopefully it would stay that way while we were out in the woods.
We went up a small winding road and when the van was parked and we turned out the lights it was pitch black. All you could hear was the chirping of all of the surrounding nocturnal insects. It was then that the reality hit me of what I had signed up for. I was about to head into the middle of the forest with 12 other people with nothing but our headlamps/flashlights and our hiking guide to lead the way. It was exhilarating and a bit scary.

As we started out, I quickly adjusted to the ways of night hiking. You could only see what your headlamp revealed directly ahead of you, along with the trail of lights ahead where the others were walking in front of you. If you wanted to see the surrounding area, you really needed to watch your step since your light would no longer be guiding your feet! As I walked, I kept thinking to myself – WOW! I am in the middle of the woods, in the dark, and if I turn off this light I will be in complete darkness! Not only that but we were climbing steep trails and slippery rocks since it had rained so much before. It was hot and muggy so any rain drops that fell through the trees were actually welcome.

We made our way to the lake where if it hadn’t been raining you would light a fire and roast marshmallows. This wasn’t possible for our group with all the rain that had occurred but it might have been even better this way. This way you got to fully appreciate the surrounding darkness. To my happy surprise the full moon had made itself known through some thinner clouds. Shining brightly in the sky it had an illuminating glow over the lake and surrounding forest. It was beautiful! We had been prepared for a possible night swim in the lake but the water was a tad chilly. So those of us who were so inclined went in to wade in the shallow water. I could have stood there for hours. It was such a peaceful experience. Most of us had turned off our lights and our eyes had adjusted to the moonlight while we rested. I really enjoyed our time by the lake.

Soon it was time to get back on our way. For the rest of the journey we encountered some steep inclines, had to climb some rocky sections (which is why they suggest using a headlamp so you have the use of both hands), and were able to hear some owls, see a family of deer and hear the surrounding wildlife. I felt a million miles away from civilization. When I turned off my light and looked around I could see no other lights at all. We were that far away from any stores, houses and lights. I loved it!

Our hike was completed at around 1am. I was sad when we returned to the van and had to head back. But my body was a bit sore from all the activity so I guess it was for the best. All I know is, I had an amazing time and cannot wait to go on another night hike. I was also extremely thankful that the weather had held out for us. Once back in the van we had more showers to drive through and I was happy to be sheltered again when that happened.

Outdoor Bound has another full moon hike offered in October. That is the last one for this season but they will have more next season. I know I will be signing up next spring/summer! It is a wonderful experience and I highly recommend giving it a try.
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