Go Bump in the Night
Just because the days are shorter doesn’t mean you have to stay inside and watch football. Ok, I only do that when the New England Patriots are on a roll. Big games for Patriots notwithstanding, I tend to do a lot of my crazy outdoor stuff at night just because I can and because it’s an added blast.
Years ago, I started a magazine called Explore New England. Sadly, it didn’t last too long—much like many other new magazines or new restaurants in that early 1990s business climate. For one of the first issues, I wrote a piece on night skiing in New England. That was when the movie “Interview with the Vampire” was out. I remember starting off saying how cool it would be to be a vampire—you could ski all night for the rest of eternity and not need a chairlift.
Night skiing is something I have always insisted on having accessible. For the entire duration of my career as a writer and editor, I have had a night skiing area nearby to feed the mid-week need. In fact, when I started teaching skiing, it was just nights at the now defunct Temple Mountain in Peterborough, NH. The mountain is still there, but now it’s a nature preserve. As I write this post, my skis are in the ski box on my car ready for one of my weekly excursions over to Wachusett Mountain in Princeton, MA—arguably one of the best night skiing spots in New England. And trust me, I’ve checked out almost all of them.
Skiing isn’t the only thing that can go bump in the night. There’s hiking, kayaking, and of course mountain biking. A few years ago, I was on a roll with some friends of mine. We went mountain biking every Thursday night for more than a year and a half! And yes, that means during the winter too. Lighting is always an issue when night mountain biking. I had my headlamp die on me just as I was bouncing over some roots on a trail about a foot from the shore of the Charles River. Amazingly, I got through that experience completely dry. My setup included a large light on the handlebar so I could see where my bike was heading, and a strong headlamp on my helmet so I could see where I wanted to go. That usually gave me enough light—usually.
One night I was gingerly making my way down a trail I knew quite well. I was moving just fast enough that stubbing my front tire on a small root sent me flying straight up and over the handlebars. I’m not sure what happened next, but I rolled out and up onto my feet like it was intentional. My friend came up behind laughing his head off and telling me he saw lights heading every which way. I turned around and saw my bike suspended in a giant pine bough hanging over the trail. I was still amazed at how I had rolled out of it. I was actively training taekwondo and hapkido at that time, so I told my hapkido master about that incident the next night at class. I didn’t really get past, “I was mountain biking last night, and…” He was already looking at me like I had three heads.
My point is—at least I think I started out with a point—try your favorite activity at night! You’ll see things you’d never see during the day. You’ll have a whole fresh perspective on your favorite mountain, trail or lake. Take a few precautions, prepare yourself, and go nocturnal.