Last night Cindy and I went on our first night-time hike, an AMC trip to the top of Mt. Monadnock to see the fireworks in Jaffrey. Apparently one of the big fireworks manufacturers is in Jaffrey, so it’s quite a show.

Our original plan was to come in on the Pumpelly trail, which comes in along a ridge from the north. It’s one of our favorites because it avoids most of the crowds who come in from the south and east, but it’s also the longest way to the summit and the weather was kind of questionable (climbing along ridges when there are thunderstorms in the area is not recommended) so we decided to try the Dublin trail instead. After a couple of hours of steady hiking, we reached the top about an hour early. There were a couple of other groups there, but we didn’t interact with them much. Mostly we just ate our dinners and then hung out in a little nook away from the wind until the show started.

The fireworks themselves were pretty neat, though a bit small from our distance. I did bring my binoculars, so I was able to switch between a nearer but slightly shaky view and a more distant but steady view. There were several interesting types – rings, hearts, and even a few spirals that I hadn’t seen before. The show lasted a little over half an hour, and then we headed down.

Hiking in the dark is quite a different experience, and life got even more interesting where there was water or mud. We all had headlamps, of course, in most cases the newer white-LED type that cast a very bright though slightly bluish light. The light’s kind of flat, though, so depth perception is a bit off and it’s slightly more difficult than usual to judge the angle or texture of the rocks you’re stepping on. Mud is the worst; in that light you just can’t really tell the difference between normal ground and a mud-puddle. I gooshed pretty badly a couple of times. We all got down pretty well, though, so the trip can be considered a success.

I think I actually like hiking at night. It’s cooler, with no danger of sunburn (important for a freakishly pale person like me) and fewer bugs. For long-distance hiking reduced competition for lodging/campsites would be another plus. Sure, it’s not as scenic the whole time, but mornings and evenings often provide the best views anyway. I think climbing mountains in time for a good sunset, and then down in the dark, could be a pretty good modus operandi.