Photo Cred: Wednesday Night Hike

How can we open our senses–our eyes, our ears, and nose–to be more like a canine; to better operate in nature without technology?

July 15 is the full moon, and a great opportunity to train our senses to better acclimate to our surroundings.  Find your inner canine with a night hiking trip; disconnect from devises to connect with nature.  If you’ve never night hiked before, check out some of these pointers from the pros:

Adjust your eyes.  Avoid white light for 30 minutes prior night hiking.  It will take at least this long for your eyes to adjust to low light.  A human eye is built differently than a canine’s, so they need time to adjust.  A canine, on the other hand, sees very well in darkness.

Unlock your peripheral view.  Human eyes have a large number of cones in their eyes, while canines have more rods than cones.  The rods help us see dark and light (black and white) and are key to night vision.  Since there is a higher concentration of cones in the center of the eye, looking off to the side of your focus unlocks the area of your eye will fewer cones, allowing you to see better in the dark.

Concentrate on shadows.  You may not always be able to make out the trail, so the shadows from the vegetation surrounding the trail can help you find your way.

Avoid white light.  White light can interrupt your eyes’ night vision, so avoid it as much as possible.  This includes turning off your dog’s light.

Loosen your step. It’s a good idea to keep your knees loose–just in case you misstep!

Rely on other senses.  Humans heavily rely on their sense of sight whereas dogs rely on a collaboration of their senses.  Use the sounds and smell of a trail to help navigate through.

Just in case.  Even a very familiar trail can look quite different at night.  Carry a map, GPS, compass, and flashlight with you just in case you need help finding your way back.

For more night hiking tips, check out:

http://hikinghq.net/night_hiking.html

http://www.inquiry.net/outdoor/night/hiking.htm