Some people head to the hills for the exercise, some for the view, and some for the adventure. But at some point, you settle into a walking rhythm, your focus is absorbed by the ground right in front of you and you move along, almost zombie-like, in autonomic strides.
Virtually every hike eventually settles in to near-silence. There is always friendly banter in the beginning, a few sustained conversations early on, but at some inexplicable moment, it’s the hike and everyone’s own quiet thoughts that define the experience. The only sounds are footfalls and the occasional trail warning.
I think this is especially true of night hikes. The darkness somehow closes down the world and we’re all forced to concentrate more on the footsteps, albeit in auto pilot. It usually takes a little while for the trails to narrow to single file – further defining each of us as singular participants.
Our trail leaders have done a great job in honing down the 21 ideal hiking courses. There are other hikes and even more alternative courses, but the 21 we eventually selected and refined are well-timed for two hour treks and offer a diversity of experiences.
Of course, we all have our favorites for different reasons and even different seasons. Gardenland, at the top of Mandeville, for example, is a solid year-round hike with wide-open fire roads and stellar views. The Crack in the Palisades Highlands is best done in the summer, with more light to negotiate a number of trickier passageways. Queensferry, off Westridge, and Capri in the Palisades, are both year-round destinations with just enough challenge to keep you awake without threatening life or limb.
As our days rapidly grow shorter, we’re all checking our mini lights. The operative word is “mini” – just enough light to illumine your next footstep without blowing out your night vision. There are few experiences more enchanting than a train of folks silently hiking along at night with little lights bobbing and twigs crunching underfoot.
If you’d like to join us, just show up. There is no “club,” no dues, no rules, no lectures, no formal leaders. We’re officially all on our own, hiking together.Fearless readers interested in free Monday and Wednesday night hikes may contact Scott Regberg at (310) 475-5735.