When it comes to hiking and other outdoor adventures I always like to hike in the morning.
Here in the Rockies getting an early start means reducing the risk of being chased off of a mountain by afternoon lightning. It also means that I can get my kids down for their afternoon nap.
But about once a month we like to have some fun and go hiking (or cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing) in the evening instead of the morning.
Usually, our evening hike coincides with a full moon. It’s just fun hiking in the moonlight, right?
If you’re a daytime hiker it’s time to shake things up a bit.
On Sunday, Sept. 27th something magical will be happening in the sky.
A Harvest Moon & total lunar eclipse combo.
The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, the moon will be close, full and beautiful. There will also be a total lunar eclipse–when the moon’s orbit allows it to pass through the Earth’s shadow.
Cool huh? Why would anyone want to sit home and binge-watch old sitcoms on Netflix instead of get out and enjoy the night sky?
Here are a few tips on how you can get on the trails and enjoy this magical show in the sky.
1. Find the perfect location. You’ll want to be as far away from any natural lights as you can. Choose a hike through a prairie, open space or above timberline so you won’t have anything blocking your view of the night sky. But, since you’ll be hiking at night stick to a trail that you know. Hiking at night does add a certain element of risk, especially on unfamiliar terrain.
2. If you’re bringing along children start out before the sun sets to make unloading kids and assembling gear at the trailhead a little bit easier. When we go on night hikes I dress my kids in their pajamas with a shell layer on top depending on the weather since I know they’ll fall asleep in the car on the drive home.
3. Take Monday off of work and camp out underneath the moon and the stars. If camping isn’t your thing rent a yurt. Yurts are awesome for offering night-sky viewing opportunities and you’ll probably get to sleep on a bed or a cot so it’s a total win.
4. Start your hike from a picnic or camping area and or bring along a picnic dinner. Or fire up the stove and heat up a chili or stew. Or build a small fire in an established fire-pit and enjoy a cookout under the moon. Invite a few friends and have some fun. You can hike and then eat, or eat and then hike or just eat and watch the sky.
5. Bring headlamps for emergency purposes or to assemble gear at the trailhead but turn them off when you’re hiking to preserve your night vision. You’ll want to enjoy the full experience of the moonlit trails without any unnatural light getting in the way. If you have kids who aren’t fans of the dark crack a glow stick for them, I won’t judge you, I promise.
6. It’s fun to bring binoculars along on a full moon hike. Or you can leave a telescope in your car at the trailhead for a little stargazing before or after the hike.
7. If it’s chilly in your neck of the woods leave a thermos of hot water in your car at the trailhead or bring along our jetboil to fix a mug of cider or tea for the ride home.
Are you going to take a Harvest Moon Hike next weekend? Where are you going to go? How many people can we get on the trails? Our community is gonna want to see your Harvest Moon Hiking photos so be sure to share the on our facebook page.
(p.s. I’m not an astronomy expert but here’s a good website with information on the Super Harvest Moon of 2015.
Have you seen my latest articles at Moms Who Hike on how to plan a Leave No Trace Scavenger Hunt? If you’re in SE Wyoming I also added 3 more kid-friendly hikes to the list. I’ve also been over at Sierra Trading Post with these articles Safe Hiking During Hunting Season, Planning an Epic Girls Weekend, and Keeping Kids Safe on Hikes and on the NW Healthy Mama’s blog with an article on Overcoming Mom Guil.
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Did you like this post? Spread the word and share it with a friend. Curious about where to find more? Check out Just Trails for trail information in Southeastern Wyoming and Northern Colorado. If you hike with kids join our kid-friendly outdoor community at Moms Who Hike (officially launching on October 1st). And check out my podcast, The Great Adventures Podcast (coming soon!) where I’ll answer your questions and help you have a great adventure of your own.
Or chat with me directly by sending an email to rebecca (at) justtrails (dot) com