By Di Westaway | Founder of Coastrek
One of the most exciting parts of Coastrek adventures is exploring after dark. There’s a magical time from twilight to night that makes us feel like kids again as we walk through the forest or along the coast, occasionally spotting powerful owls, glimpsing stars and being bathed in moonshine.
If you’ve never hiked in the dark before, it can be daunting, particularly if you don’t know where you are, you get lost, you forget your head torch or if the weather turns sour.
The best way to embrace the night is to grab your friends and get out there in training. You can do all the same workouts and walks you do in the day, but start after work or after the kids go to bed. It's great girl time and you’ll have lots of fun. Take a thermos, tea and freshly baked cakes along and make it a girls' night out by having supper somewhere beautiful.
Here’s our top tips to surviving and thriving in the bush after dark:
- Head Torch: Don’t leave home without your head torch. It might seem obvious, but some Coastrekkers think their smart phone will do for a night light. While this might be the case in a full moon on a cloudless night, it's generally a bad idea. There’s lots of great brands of head torches available and you don’t have to spend a fortune. If you want a fully bright pool of light, go for the LedLenser brand, but if you’re happy to get enough light to stay safe without frightening the wildlife, the Petzl Tikka or Tikka Plus is perfect. They also come with a red lens so you don’t blind your teammates when you look them in the eye.
- Trekking Poles: If you’re new to night walking, you might want to use your trekking poles. Unless you’re very sure-footed, it's easier to miss little hazards like roots and stones when you’re walking by torch light. Having poles gives you a second chance if you trip. They’re also very handy for removing spiderwebs from the trail as you walk.
- Go in a group: It’s a good idea to take your whole team on your night hikes to give you a feeling of safety. Sadly, most women don’t feel safe walking alone in the bush at night. The best solution is to get your team together and walk as a group the whole time.
- Start with a short night hike until you build your confidence. You might choose a 5km out-and-back track the first time so you know where you are at all times. Once you’re more confident, head out for two or three hours and really have some fun.
- Stick to trails you know or do a reckie of the trails in daylight before heading out at night. While it can be fun getting lost in the daytime, it's not much fun at night, so plan ahead and make sure you know where you’re going and your family know when you expect to finish.
- Trip hazards: It's harder to see little trails and tree hazards in the dark, so remember to put your safety first and put your chatting second. We have a Wild Women saying for safety: “Every Step, Every Step.” You might not remember it until somebody trips, but it’s a great mantra to practice to keep you safe.