Monday, July 1, 2013

Things that go Bump in the Night

Not a fan of summer’s high temperatures, on days where the mercury pushes high, I typically hide out in my basement, patiently waiting for the sun to dip below the horizon. Nighttime affords the perfect opportunity to enjoy favorite outdoor pursuits, without needing to contend with the sun’s brutal rays. Individuals wanting a truly unique experience will find that the woods after sunset are a beautiful and exciting place and that going “nocturnal” is loaded with potential advantages. Hikers enjoy abandoned trails, anglers paddle lakes absent of roaring outboards and stargazers can stare into the starlit heavens, enjoying the quite tranquility.

Another big benefit, includes being able to introduce kids to this mysterious world, teaching them from an early age that they do not need to be afraid of the dark. Good Gear Makes for a Good Night To be a successful creature of the night, it pays to invest in a high quality headlamp and flashlight. Petzl headlamps (http://www.petzl.com) are the ONLY headlamps I ever buy, their durability and performance are legendary. I have owned mine for over a decade and it has never failed. When paired with a high output Streamlight flashlight (http://www.streamlight.com), you will own even the darkest night. Users can choose from dozens of different models, based on their intended outdoor passion. While both are pricy, the benefits and years of service quickly outweigh the initial costs.

I prefer headlamps for their hands free operation. Light Emitting Diodes (LED) on these units provide adequate illumination for hiking and close proximity work. LEDs also require very little energy to function and therefore last a long time before needing new batteries. High output flash lights can reach out 100 yards and quickly illuminate large areas, should the need arise (think tracking a wounded animal at night). They do however often require pricy specialty batteries and drain quickly when compared to the energy efficient LED. A consideration, if you do not require a high power hand held flashlight, would be to purchase a very nice primary headlamp and a smaller, lighter weight (pocket sized) secondary headlamp. Always having two sources of illumination, guarantees not being stranded in the darkness, should the batteries die in the primary unit.

Eyes will adjust to darkness in steadily increasing increments, with major improvements occurring at approximately 20 seconds, 2 minutes, and 2 hours. After 2 hours eyes will be completely adjusted to the darkness and night vision likely not improve much beyond that point. Using a flashlight or headlamp, resets this clock and quickly negate any gains. Using a red or green filter on your headlamp or flashlight, instead of the standard white lens, will allow night vision to be more easily preserved and allow for faster recuperation of previously made gains.

Good Night Hiking
Trimble Mountain (DeLorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 37, D-2) boasts impressive views of the St. Croix River Valley and is a great spot for first time night hikers. Travel Route 1 South past the Calais/Robbinston line. In approximately 1.5 miles, turn right onto the Number 3 (Brewer Rd) road (if you pass the Redcliff Restaurant on the left, you have gone to far). Take a right at the fork and go about half a mile and then turn right onto the McNeil road. Drive straight ahead till you reach a sizeable parking lot. The last quarter mile to the summit is barely passable with a four-wheel drive vehicle and should be hiked. Trimble Mountain is privately owned and maintained, so visitors are asked to be extremely respectful and pack out all garbage, this will ensure continued access so the area and continued enjoyment by future generations.

Geocaching
For those interested or involved in the exciting sport of geocaching, two nearby caches will test the intestinal fortitude of even the steadiest nerves. Nearby by Brewer Cemetery (N 45° 04.806 W 067° 07.26) and Robbinston Ridge Cemetery (N 45° 04.925 W 067° 06.486) offer spooky early evening caches. For those with less resolve, the Robbinston boat landing (N 45° 04.925 W 067° 06.486) also has a fun cache in much less spooky surroundings. Please remember that whenever entering a cemetery, to always be extremely respectful and to obey the legal access times when these areas are open to the public.

Stargazing
Stargazers frequently use Trimble Mountain to peer into the heavens. Junior astronomers need not have an expensive telescope to enjoy the view of the heavens, as an inexpensive set of binoculars will allow viewing of many impressive astrological bodies, not readily seen with the naked eye. Though not occurring until next month, the impressive Perseids meteor shower is scheduled to occur around August 12th and promises to provide an impressive show that will quite literally be out of this world. Determining the viewing schedule and linking up with a local stargazing group is a great way to enter this hobby, without a large-scale initial investment.

The Downeast Amateur Astronomers (http://downeastaa.com) is hoping to offer several events in the Calais and Machias area throughout July. For more information, see the Downeast Amateur Astronomers website or contact, Charlie Sawyer at 214-5706 or csawyer7@roadrunner.com.

Good Night Bass Fishing
The warm waters of July, mark the return of the bass’s feisty attitude. Early mornings, late evenings and even the dead of night certainly top my list as favorite hours to fish. These times typically see less boat traffic and paddlers are less abused by high winds that tend to blow throughout the day. Add to these benefits, the possibility of viewing beautiful sunrises and sunsets and it isn’t hard to understand why the best time to be on the water usually starts or ends in the dark. Big bass tend to emerge from their shadowy underwater lairs to feed long after boat traffic has departed. Dark colored lures like Jitterbugs and other surface disturbers are the preferred lures and are guaranteed to elicit brutal strikes from hungry aquatic predators hiding in the shadows. Crawford Lake in DeLorme’s The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer (MAG), Map 36, D-2, is a great spot to begin your night angling obsession and promises excellent after dark bass fishing action.

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