The problem with winter is long nights

Im in the mountains near puebla mexico. A bit closer to the equator but still a long way from it and the nights still seem long. We usually think of temperatures as the big draw back for winter but for me the downtime at night is a bigger issue for camping in the winter. Not so bad right now, i’m hoteling tonight so have indoor lighting. Should have brought more books to read, internet sketchy where i am as well.

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I agree. I’m at home with every time waster known to man and it still makes me sad when it gets dark way too early.

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Ah yes, I absoutely agree. It’s a battle to stay up to 10 PM but if I don’t I’ll be up way before sun up. You have it good down there though. Roughly 26 degees farther North (Northern Michigan) sunrise is about 8 AM and sunset is 5 PM

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When I lived in Norway I learned to view winter nights differently. Since winter nights are very long or even without daylight all day in the far North, Norwegians have learned how to enjoy the “koselig” of Winter nights. Sometimes outdoors with skiing under the full moon or on lighted paths or home with friends and family and food and drink, music and stories. Also a time for doing crafts and woodwork together or at least at the same time. For me winter nights are times to make arrows and bowstrings, and to learn some new songs or how to play new instruments, and I tend to reread my favorite books.


Love your description of the Norwegian winter coping activities and communal life.

For me, unfortunately, I think I would still feel the claustrophobic walls of darkness closing in on me.


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Nothing worse than waking up in a tent fully rested and realizing sunrise is four hours away. You can only fritter away so much time making coffee, and headlamp and book get old fast.


Long nights are for observing and enjoying the night sky. Embrace the science of astronomy. Hopefully you can find a dark sky far from city lights.

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Watching the stars and chasing the Northern Lights… We have had the latter recently in dark sky areas of Maine. We do lights for the holidays to beat the darkest days of the year and enjoy going around to see what others have done though in our rural area that means driving.

We are actualy going on a winter cruise… above the Arctic Circle. For astronomy and the aurorae.

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Yes. This time of year I often camp in a trailer. It gets dark early. I like to catch up on reading.

Some years ago we did a winter canoe trip on the Lower Colorado River in Feb. Blythe, CA to Yuma, CA. The weather was still cold at 300 feet in the low desert. Frost every night and little to build a fire with. We brought solar yard lights for around camp.

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Do Not Let the Owl Call My Name Just Yet

Stumble out into the dark,
cabin walls will heed not cries.
Be uplifted by starlight,
an ancient motion scrolls night’s sky.

Join the pine in silhouette,
still together and then await,
nocturnal treasures stirring wonder,
as eyes and senses dilate,

to smell the fragrant through the frost,
evergreen or leaf’s decay,
as barren limbs aloft will rustle,
gentle breeze puts much in play,

all these shadows to weak site.
Motive creature or forest ghost?
Now let the ears take from the wind,
sound imagination hosts.

Till there comes aired with assurance,
to lift attention in dark enthrall,
the hunting soul’s booming beckon.
The owl sends out its call.


I was born and grew up in the sunshine state. Yet I love the mystery of the night. I just don’t do well when the night is longer than the day. I have spent winter nights in tents awake before and the break of day brings a certain relief. Still to wander the woods and waters at night is a joy and a dark sky is filled with wonder.

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Another problem with Winter is that it sometimes starts in Fall. Windchill of 10F this morning. My river is resisting bravely and I hope to paddle later this week.

With a light coating of fresh white snow and bright moonlight it didn’t really get dark last night.

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Ppine i like the solar yard light idea!

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For many years I was one of the primary instuctors for a BSA adult (typically college age) trek leader guide training program in the Adirondacks. I often would spend one night at a particular favorite campsite on a lake shore. If the weather was good I would ask the group to gather after dark, and hike single file along the lake shore through a grassy area in total silence and with no lights, no speaking whatsoever. After about a quarter mile at a crossing stream, each would relate their experiences of sound and sight and thought. Swiching of footsteps through the grass, sound of light riffles of the lake on the shore, frogs calling from the swamp, maybe a distant owl hooting in the nearby woods, as many stars reflecting off the calm lake surface as are in the sky, how their night vision improved to see objects just by starlight alone, etc.

If the timing was right I would have preplanned the solar reflection flash prediction from the old generation of Iridium satellites, as if a star suddenly brightens for10 seconds to light up the earth in our location bright enough to cast a shodow and to read by. I would point to the place in the sky where and when it was to appear and say someething prophetic.

I like to believe that this exercise was something spiritual and lasting that they could relate to young scouts that they were to lead in their summer jobs yet to come as trek leaders. Similarly, we often would not necessarily have the experience of a roaring campfire at night to blind our vision and hearing of night sights and sounds from animals and nature.


I don’t mind the long nights as much as I mind snow, though the latter is necessary for water supplies. The cold, meh. We get enough sunshine that normal cold doesn’t feel bad; abnormal cold still sucks—just as abnormal heat in summer does.

And now “normal” keeps taking vacations!

I absolutely loved the fog season in the PNW. Late sunrises, thick fog, the various pitches and timbres of ship foghorns, fewer people around, and the general grayness of the maritime environment was a beautiful contrast from summer and early fall.

Make lemonade out of lemons. I read more books in winter, take naps if I feel like it, and enjoy baking, which is a no-go in the hot season.

But all that said, I still really miss paddling, especially paddling with summer clothing.

High of 14 yesterday, with noticeable though not face-ripping wind (12-15 mph).
Message on a local bank sign: “I miss complaining about the heat.”

Night separates the sheep from the goats so to speak.

I have fond memories of xc skiing at night in the Sierra by moonlight in places with no tracks except fur bearing animals. I will never forget riding a mule in the Rockies at night in a snow storm just trying to get my horse and several mules back to the trucks in one piece. Or coming back from hunting so many times and seeing the wall tent with a lantern in it like a beacon in the night.

Mostly winter nights are too long and too cold. I never liked being cacooned in a sleeping bag in a little tent waiting for first light. My best nights in winter have been in a wall tent with a wood stove. The other great solution for ski trips is a Whelen lean to with a fire in front.

In Feb on the Colorado River, with a full moon and no visible lights, an otter swam by, then the wild donkeys started singing, then the coyote choir and two owls in the Russian olives behind camp. Maybe the best winter night of all.


We just spent a few days in Prague enjoying the winter coziness.

It’s all new to me at this latitude. I am prone to seasonal affective “lack of motivation” so we begin the gym tonight.

We only eat outside because they keep the heat too high inside. The food tastes very good outside.

I like anything that is new and I’ve lived most of my years in Hawaii and SoCal so learning to dress for cold weather has been a long and challenging project . :wink:

We walked about seven miles a day and that keeps me pretty warm.


at least we are not camping this November, I take what I can get.


On the topic of “more books to read” : The Patrick O’Brian books are priceless, and especially appealing for people who love life on the water. Twenty in the series; historical fiction but with a heavy emphasis on the “historical” aspects of a seafaring life, and natural history. Warm and nourishing reading, while one waits for longer days!

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