Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fun times at night

I had been jones’n for a night hike most of the summer and just never made time for it. Since we are getting into fall now and the temps are dropping daily, I figured the window of opportunity was closing. I was already up north climbing some rocks during the day so I picked a hike that I was more or less familiar with and wasn’t too far from where the climbing day ended; Franconia Notch, Falling Waters to Old Bridal Path.

I packed what I thought would be too much gear for those “just in case” situations. I grabbed a Losi 2P, Tuo Standard, and a Fillo from the office along with my sleeping bag and I was off, thinking to myself, “Oh yeah, the moon is at 50%. That should be enough light to hike by moonlight on the ridge.” Right…?

Turns out, my lunar awareness is sub-par. The moon, as Steve explained to me in the office on Monday, isn’t always in our vision for the entire night. And on top of that, the amount of reflected light isn’t always what you think it will be. Facts I have now learned by experience, but didn’t really acknowledge before my little adventure.

While I didn’t see the moon at all during my entire hike, I couldn’t stop looking at the stars. Each time I took cover from the wind, I turned off my headlamp and basked in the beauty of the cosmos. I am not a stranger to seeing stars, but I have never seen the night sky as dense with them as I did on Little Haystacks, Lincoln and Lafayette. The Milky Way was an undeniably clear band of stars above me, Orion clearly low on the horizon and you could clearly see twinkling. It was at that point that I wished I knew more constellations and could pick them out. Alas, the cold kept creeping in so I was forced to move.

Here is the only reasonable picture I was able to capture during the hike. It is at the summit of Lafayette at about 1am.

I managed to get down by a little after 3am and promptly fell asleep in my car.Good times, good learning experience and a great view.


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