The night. Dark, crisp, chilly but best of all a wonderfully clear sky. You know the type where the air is just cold enough so you can see your breath when you exhale. They are my favourite type of nights. Looking up, away from man-made light sources a whole show is played out above our heads.
Shooting stars. Satellites. Planets, comets and stars. They’re all there to be seen whenever we take the time to look up into the night sky instead of down at our mobile phones.
With the lower visibility levels at night our bodies automatically compensate. When vision dips, our other senses boost. Hearing becomes more acute. The sound levels that would be missed during the day become audible at night and can often give away vital clues about what is happening all around us.
Here in the UK we’re quite lucky we don’t have to worry about a range of animals that can cause us harm. Locally, I have to think about adders, snakes that are venomous but lack the instant kill of snakes in other parts of the world. That is probably the only worry I have about wandering the woods at night. (Having a morbid fear of snakes doesn’t help either.) No bears, no wolves, no mountain lions or bobcats, or other large predators that will eat us.
So while some folks love to get a big campfire going, I try to be a bit more discreet. Plus, I always worry about a large fire getting out of hand and losing control of it. For heat and for cooking (since I’m usually camping alone or only with one other person) I use a Solo Stove. It is not a cheap bit of kit, but is incredibly well made. Even with damp twigs and wood it achieves a very clean burn which means I get maximum heat value for the wood I burn and minimal (almost zero) smoke. Kicking up a lot of smoke is never a good idea. In fact, generating smoke at night can lead to phone calls to the fire service when well-intentioned people think they have spotted a problem.
So when 2 or 3am comes around it is great to be able just to sit, quietly, with a mug of tea in hand watching the sky above and listening to the sound of nature all around me. That is what I intend to be doing on most weekends over the coming summer months. Why not join me in giving it a go?