Becoming Nocturnal 

The boys and I are attempting to become nocturnal. We are trying out this night hiking thing, but we are doing it in a way that is shocking most people. Many people out here are currently “night hiking” meaning they will hike from 6:00pm until midnight or so, stop, set up a tent, and then sleep until three or four in the morning, get up and hike until it gets too hot to keep moving. Stop, rest, repeat. But we figured we could take it one step further. Why not just actually change our sleep scheduled entirely? Why not hike straight through the night for ten or twelve hours, arrive at camp around sunrise, set up and sleep all through the heat and then rise at night to walk again? We thought it sounded doable but we hadn’t heard of anyone doing it. However, that didn’t mean it couldn’t be done. The way everyone else was doing it didn’t appeal to us, with the heatwave we were having we didn’t want to have to walk during the hot afternoon hours at all. Plus, we have seen a lot of desert at this point. Plus, we wanted an adventure. Basically we figured we had eight to ten days where night hiking would be useful. That would allow us to get through the Mojave desert, where temperatures have been in the high nineties and often the low one hudreds, and then we could transition back in the couple of days between Walker Pass and Kennedy Meadows, allowing us to be back on a day schedule for the Sierras. But first we had to see: could it even be done?

We transitioned into night hiking after leaving Hiker Heaven. Oh, also, side note, our friends Christina and Kenny from the AT came and visited us at Hiker Heaven and brought us (and everyone else) trail magic. Cookies, deviled eggs, soda, potato salad. Christina even remembered that Kyle didn’t like mayonnaise. They were a huge hit and it was great to see them. We reminisced about the AT for hours and filled eachother in on the ends of our hikes, since we had last seen eachother somewhere in Pennsylvania. So yay, trail friends! Anyway, back to our story. We got into Hiker Heaven, stayed the night and then hung out there all of the next day, napping and resting to prepare ourselves for the impending all-nighter. We caught the seven o’clock shuttle out after eating multiple bowls of cereal (what meal do you eat at night before you start your hiking night?) and got dropped off in Agua Dulce. Our place was to hike all night, straight to Casa De Luna, another very popular trail angel home, twenty four miles away.

Immediately we were greeted by cooler temperatures, which bolstered our resolve that this was the right thing to do. Scrambler, a fellow hiker, tagged along with us for a couple of hours, but we lost him around eleven after he, no doubt, got tired of choking on Kyle’s farts. We stopped for breaks every two hours just like we would during a normal day and marveled at the night sky. One of the things that people keep saying is: aren’t your worried you are going to miss the sights? The desert is a very beautiful place, full of diversity, and one of its most active and alive times is at night. Many desert animals don’t even come out during the day. This way we see sunrise and sunset, dawn and dusk, only adding to the diversity and beauty of the desert. Plus discovering creepy crawlers that we never dreamed existed.

After shrieking over every new insect that came at us and battling clouds of moths, intent on our headlamps, we decided to stop for “dinner” around two in the morning. It turned out to be a vigilant affair, with all of us checking for scorpions every couple of seconds and Cameron finding this strange mystery bug on him twice, which really freaked all of us out. I seriously don’t know how anyone cowboy camps in the desert.

After dinner things went rapidly downhill. We were all tired and we had talked ourselves into silence, all the adrenaline from early in the night gone. I had that feeling you get when you simply can’t keep your eyes open, something I hadn’t believed possible while walking. Kyle fell asleep standing up at one point while waiting for Cameron to pee. Our bodies were clearly loosing interest in getting to Casa De Luna, but we willed them to keep moving. Finally, the sun started to come up, which at least allowed me to keep my eyes open although I still felt exhausted, mentally and physically. At long last, after a couple delirious fits of the giggles, we reached the road. Casa De Luna is two miles off trail and it became immediately apparent to us it wasn’t going to be an easy hitch. Even thought it is just a two lane road, the cars were zooming by as people headed to work. We thumbed for probably five minutes and were about to give up when a car pulled over going the opposite way and offered to take us in, it’s driver claiming that we looked pretty beat. How did he know? How did we get so lucky?

We arrived at Casa De Luna around 7:30am, and were greeted by a driveway full of couches and chairs, a ritual hand washing, Hawaiian shirts, and a pancake breakfast. Casa De Luna is quirky and messy and cobbled together but despite its appearances it is a breath of fresh air. Behind the house they have two acres of manzanita forests with little trails running every which way and a plethora of flat, cool, shaded tent spots to choose from. The forest is quiet and peaceful, separated from the front of the house where people hang out and chat. Casa Del Luna boasts one of your best nights of sleep on trail, and even though our night time was day time, it was amazing. I took a cooling shower in their outdoor shower first and then I passed out. We woke up just in time to eat an incredible dinner of taco salad and hit the road by eight.

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As Edward Abbey said, "An indoor life is the next best thing to a premature burial."

6 thoughts on “Becoming Nocturnal 

  1. Thanks for letting us know where you are. Sounds like a good plan and Casa de Luna looked like a BBQ at your parents house lol. Funny bug story had to chuckle knowing Kyles affinity towards creepy crawlers, even if it wasn’t a spider. Looking good!! PMS

    1. Serious? Headlamps are a lifesaver. We relied on them for our early morning starts in the mountains. Too easy to trip over rocks and roots. Of course in the desert you don’t have roots but you also don’t want to accidentally step on a rattlesnake or have some other venomous critter such as scorpions to accidentally hitch a ride, plus it keeps most critters sans bugs away from you. At least that was our experience.

      1. I had only used ambient light at night as was just curious I see from other comments why you chose them. Thanks

    2. Basically it is pitch black at night ( no moon while we were night hiking this section) and we use our hands to hold our trekking poles so being able to see where you’re going via use of a headlamp is pretty clutch…

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