Hiding from the Sun on the AT

Excessive ultraviolet radiation from the sun causes skin to wither, blister, and burn. I guess whatever tan I acquired on previous hikes is gone. My skin is excessively sensitive to it. It is almost torturous to hike across exposed balds or sections of road mid-day. Even the light rays that creep through the thick and protective canopy of the forest bother me. Cloaked in my sun hoodie, I do my best to stay in the shade, but it is never enough.

I’ve taken to night hiking. The forest feels better this way. It’s cool and damp. Fireflies blink all around me as I stroll down the trail. Maybe it’s the moon, or light pollution from nearby cities, but a headlamp barely seems necessary, and I leave it off half the time.

Afternoon siestas are a staple of the PCT desert section, but they are just as useful here. I nap in the shade of shelters while the sun moves through it’s apex. Then return to the trail once it’s hidden behind the trees on the horizon. The shelters feel too large with no one else. I don’t know what the opposite of claustrophobia is, but I am experiencing it.

These daytime naps seem to be enough to sustain me. Once the darkness welcomes me, I feel energized and will hike for most of the night with few problems. I don’t find myself checking the miles on Farout or distracting myself with music and podcasts as much. It feels fast and natural to quickly move down the moonlit path, and before I know it, the sun is up and I am looking for a shelter to snooze in.

I definitely meet fewer other hikers this way. I’m still behind the bubble, but once I catch them, I’m sure there will be others who have discovered the wonders of night hiking this trail.

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Comments 1

  • thetentman : Jun 5th

    Good luck.


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