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Eyes in the dark

Walking in the night is one thing, but it was only after writing my last post that I realized something that completely changes the atmosphere of those hikes: the eyes. When you hike through the countryside and woods during the day, you might be lucky enough to spot some wildlife. But at night, it's a very different story. Thanks to your headlamp, you get to enjoy the experience of seeing eyes in the dark - eyes of animals you might not otherwise notice.

The reflection of the light on the animals' retinas makes their eyes glow. If you aren't the one wearing the headlamp, you might miss it entirely. But put it on, and voilà - there they are, eyes watching your every move. Sometimes during your nighttime hike, you'll see just a couple of pairs quickly glance at you before they're gone—most likely a hare. Other encounters are much more spectacular: an odd pair of eyes in the distance, assessing whether or not you're a threat. They might stay or leave as quietly as only a deer can. If you're lucky and in the open, you might spot shadows running along the horizon before they, too, disappear.

Confronted by these eyes, you might feel a range of emotions. For me, there's this strange feeling of connection. There's an unwritten exchange between the hiker and the silent observers - a mutual curiosity. But it's the eyes that might spark fear. Walking through the forest at night introduces strong psychological and cultural overtones. The fear of the unknown looms large, and those glowing eyes only serve to amplify your vivid imagination and existing fears. Fairy tales and horror stories have taught us to be wary of the nocturnal dangers lurking in the woods. And it’s the protective mechanism, the increased alertness that those staring eyes provoke, that might even affect you. In the end, we are still animals, and that heightened state of alertness still applies to us when walking in the night.