I will usually take any opportunity to hike and at least three times a week I can be found walking up my local mountain by 5:00am, regardless of the time of the year or the temperatures. I just find that it really allows me to focus my thoughts and as I have been doing this for a number of years I don’t worry about every little noise, which is usually the local kangaroo population moving around just off the track. If I’m really lucky these early morning walks will coincide with very clear sky’s and a full moon that is either, or almost directly overhead as this gives me the opportunity to turn my headlamp and walk in the natural light creating an almost eery landscape. Over the last three years I usually find that I hit that sweet spot at least twice a year when everything aligns:
As I write this article I am approaching my upcoming thru hike of the Bibbulmun Track in Western Australia and as I am planning on walking for around 5-6 weeks I definitely want to take the opportunity to do some night hiking. The option here is to play it by ear and just see what happens but as an obsessive planner I prefer to know what days are going to fit my criteria (maybe not the frost). In previous years I had been content to sit down at my computer and work this out but given all the wonderful technology that is available to us I though surely there must be an app that I can load onto my phone.
Sure enough there are hundreds of options available through the app stores. After spending a bit of time looking though a number of options I finally decided on the Moon Plus Phone App. This app is an Australian app designed by a New Zealander and provides up to date information from your location rather than the closet city. For grand total of $0 dollars this app will:
If you feel like paying the optional fee of $4.49 other features become available and these include:
Now back to my upcoming hike. Through using this app I have now narrowed by early morning full moon hikes to three days and given the moon set times of after 8:30 am these days will be perfect provided the sky is clear. I also cross referenced these days to where I expect to be on the track and discovered that I will be away from any lit up areas which is even better.
Now one word of warning on nighttime hiking. You need to use a bit of common sense and pay attention to the trail. If you are unfamiliar with the terrain or are going down a steepish/rough incline a descent light is essential. So while I have walked up my local mountain all the way to the top using just moonlight I always turn my light on coming down as the footing can be treacherous.
This app can be downloaded from:
This app is only available for iPhones so if you have a Windows or Android phone look at some of the other many options.
Monthly Calendar. The red square shows the current date. By clicking on the date more information will come up
Location map. Move the pin to where you want to see the location and the moon times will adjust to local time
Current Moon Phase example
The full information screen