Hiking is awesome. Hiking at night is, in some cases, even better: it can give you the opportunity to see a stellar sunset from a backwoods viewpoint or get a good look at the starry night sky. Gazing up at the Milky Way galaxy or finding your way by the light of a full moon can be transformative experiences. When the sun takes its daily dive below the horizon and delivers nigh time to your doorstep, there's no rule saying you have to stay in for the evening, especially on the weekends.

On the night of Saturday, May, 22nd, I enjoyed watching and listening to the live feed (compliments of Emo News), and the excitement of the night hikers at the Cabrits National Park. As the hike leaders gave their final instructions with the Caribbean Sea in the background, I felt like Odysseus yearning to be 'home' to participate and enjoy the trek. The event was organized and sponsored by the Dominica Hotel & Tourism Association (DHTA) as part of the Hike Fest 2021 which runs throughout May.

This initiative is both necessary and timely, especially for young people. This type of activity allows them to develop wilderness skills, strong leadership, clear communication, and meaningful relationships. For the more mature and seasoned Dominican, hikes just confirm what we already know. We are blessed with an enchanting Nature Isle of beauty and splendor.

But the Hike fest should not only be only in May but year-round especially for pre-teens and teenagers. A large percentage of children and teenagers today are suffering from Nature Deficit Disorders for the increasingly disconnection from the natural world in their lives. One example, for this reason, is the high rate of cell phone and internet addictive disorder among our young people due to the highly diminished need to engage in outdoor activities. This leads to increase obesity, depression, discourteous and unpleasant behaviors and other physiological issues, and bad habits.

Child advocacy expert and the best-selling author of the book, 'Last Child in the Woods', (a must-read for parents), Richard Louv describes a generation so plugged into electronic diversions that it has lost its connection to the natural world. In this scholarly yet practical book, Mr. Louv offers solutions today for a healthier and greener tomorrow. In the meantime, parents, educators, therapists and others can benefit from taking seriously Louv's call for a "nature-child reunion." An enjoyable and satisfying outdoor activity that young people can engage with which can help reverse that disturbing trend and reality is hiking.

If you are contemplating nighttime hikes it is advisable that you consider and follow the moon cycles and plan your hike accordingly because the moon is your greatest ally. Not only is a full moon beautiful, but it also provides an unbelievable amount of natural light that can make the trails glow. Also, don't forget to consult your local weather forecast. Bring a cellphone for emergencies but understand that you can't always count on getting cell service.

You should always tell someone where you're going and at no time you should go hiking during the day or night solo. Hiking with a friend makes the experience a whole lot safer since you have two sets of eyes and one of you can get help if it's needed. Besides, having someone to chat with during the experience may also be a whole lot more fun!

If you're looking to extend your daily window of time for getting outdoors, then hiking at night with a group is an inspiration to get you started on your after-dark adventures. Many people who are interested in night hiking find themselves hesitating to actually get out there because they're nervous or intimidated. Understandably, if regular daytime hiking is dangerous, isn't nighttime hiking that much more so?

Well yes; everything is a little bit more treacherous and challenging when you can't see well and see all. Every snap of a twig or looming shadow can feel like a threat. If you're just getting into hiking at night, go with a group of friends. But with the right preparations and respect for basic hiking safety rules and etiquette, night hiking can be done safely and effectively.

A few reasons stand out- Your safety and security and not being too familiar with the terrain or trail. And sometimes the likely possibility of an encounter with snakes- Wow!!! You should use lighting and night vision while hiking at night. A flashlight or headlamp does improve your natural night vision and is a key factor to having a pleasant and enjoyable night hike. Also, pack a First Aid Kit in case you or a member of the group suffers an injury.

Pick the right location, wear proper boots and be ready for the creatures of the dark but avoid disturbing the wildlife. Listen and look for animals not only so you can enjoy seeing them but also so you can respond if and when necessary. Treat them with respect for after all you have entered their habitats, their bedrooms. Just imagine, lying in your bed at night and someone comes in yelling with flashlights and a camera. It would be terrifying so keep a thoughtful distance and avoid using harsh lights and bright photography.

Night hiking is a wonderful way to get a different perspective of a well-loved, historic, and or cultural destination. Enjoy the darkness – Don't be afraid of the dark, embrace the night and all that it has to offer. It can be a wondering and exhilarating opportunity where you can truly bask in the haunting beauty of nature at night. No matter where your wander feet lead you, enjoy your day or night hike and stay safe out there. Happy Trails and exhilarating Trekking!