Hiker Midnight is a popular term on long-distance hiking trails such as the Appalachian Trail. The general idea is that hikers are tired from the day and want to have a restful night before breaking camp in the morning. The ask is that other hikers tone down the noise and commotion at 9 PM, even if they are staying up later.
Respecting Hiker Midnight is common decency. We all hike for different reasons and for some, they seek silence away from the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives. One of the principles of Leave No Trace is to be considerate of other visitors. This includes letting the sound of nature prevail over the sound of our voices and music.
We should all aim to be respectful of noise levels and commotion when we are sharing space with other hikers at camp. We should be mindful and aware of how we are impacting others. If hikers have retired into their tent or hammock, take that as a queue that people are settling in for the night.
By no means am I suggesting that camp become a silent movie or for us to start miming as soon as the clock strikes 9 PM. Think about it this way, would you use a jackhammer at 9 PM to renovate your backyard stone patio? Likely not and if you would, I suggest you start being kinder to your neighbours. You likely enjoy your backyard quietly at 9 PM though.
To avoid coming across as holier than thou, I will confess that I was visited by Conservation for being too loud while camping. They tracked the sound of my very loud and distinctive laugh from a few bays over and I was spoken to about keeping the noise down. I have grown as an outdoors woman since that incident.
Here are a few things to consider when you are at camp:
- If someone does not want to socialize with you, respect their space.
- If you are listening to music, turn it down so it becomes background noise (or better yet, turn it off.) The woods is not a bump’n night club on a Saturday night and not everyone wants to hear your music.
- If you are in the mood to socialize, sit beside someone instead of yelling. Not everyone needs to hear your conversation.
- Groups are obviously louder than an individual but please be mindful that other people are around and may be looking for a different experience on the trail than your group.
- If you decide to decorate camp with a string of lights, please remove them before going to bed so another hiker does not nearly closeline themselves while going to the privy. This may or may not be based on a true story.
Here is a video from the Appalachian Conservancy on being considerate of other visitors as related to Leave No Trace. I encourage you to watch the entire humorous yet serious Leave No Trace video series entitled Don’t Be That Guy.