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  • Kathy Schrenk

Accidental night hiking and how to avoid it.

Is there anything better than fall hiking? No heat, no humidity, no bugs. Plus the spectauclar show put on the by trees. Even when they have shed their leaves, they reveal views for miles. What could be better?

But, there's a hidden...dark side.

Sorry, I can't help myself.

This is the time of year when dusk sneaks up on you. The days are getting shorter and it's dark sometimes before dinner's on the table.

I've blogged many times about being prepared and the Ten Essentials. High on the list of important things to have when you hike is a headlamp or flashlight. Please keep a headlamp or flashlight, or one of each, as part of your hiking gear. I was on a casual hike with a friend a few Decembers ago when I was visiting the San Francisco Bay Area. We expected to be back at the cars by 5. But we got jussst a little lost. We really weren't ever in danger, but we had to resort to smart phone flashlights to get back, and those will suck your phone battery down fast. We would have been much better off with a flashlight.

It's easy to get jussst a little lost. If you leave on a hike at 2 and it gets dark at five, you need to have a flashlight with you, just in case. I've often told this story about a little girl who was camping near where we used to live. She wandered into the woods and was lost for hours but was spotted because she had a flashlight -- and a glow necklace!

So, please. Carry a flashlight. Especially in Missouri. It's the Cave State, after all. And flashlights are also good for peering in to scary dark spaces where bats and...other creatures may reside.

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