Backwoods Home Magazine

Take a nite hike!

Just for Kids

Take a nite hike!

By Lucy Shober


Issue #22 • July/August, 1993

Click on pictures for printable, full-sized versions to color.

How many times have you lain awake in your bed on late summer nights listening to the symphony of creatures outside? Sometimes do you imagine what it might be like to become a part of that chorus yourself? If you get permission from your grownup, you might just be able to join in the ruckus…take a nite hike! It’s best (and more fun) if you invite a quiet buddy or two to go along with you. Perhaps you might even wangle your favorite adult friend into giving your hike a grand start by helping you to make a camp fire supper.

Need an obnoxious buddy to keep you company on the way home from your night hike? First, print out the full size version of this picture. Then cut out this poor screech owl who seems to have a walloping case of larengitis. Snip the dotted diamond shaped beack. Fold his wings and middle so that he fits over your mouth as shown in the picture, below. Then squeeze the paper with two fingers and blow. You might like to print the picture onto several other thicknesses of paper until you achieve the obnoxious scree that is most desireable.

Hot-dogs…cider… marshmallows roasted on a stick and maybe even a rowdy campfire song or two would be a good warm up for the evening. After you’ve had your fill of good fun, take time to lie back on the cool earth and quietly take stock of the dark world around you. Let the feel of the night envelop you. Breathe deeply of the moist evening air. Soon, if you are quiet, you will be able to hear the chorus of nocturnal (nighttime) animals warming up for the sunset serenade.

When the scritch-scritch of that busy carpenter ant gets a little too close to your ear, maybe lt’s time to gather up the knapsack which you’ve packed just for this occasion, and begin your walk. Remember, if you can become a part of the night yourself, you will see and learn much more, so….SSHHHH!!

Things to put into your backpack

  • 1 white or pastel pillow case
  • 1 stout stick or an old broom stick
  • 1 small flashlight
  • 1 canteen or plastic bottle of water (in case those marshmallows didn’t quite get where they were going!)
  • 1 sliced apple (to leave as a treat for some hungry night creature)

What you can do

BUG A FROG…Warm evenings are a peepers’ paradise. Tiny tree frogs sing to each other throughout the forest, perched on branches and leaves as they chat the night away. You, if you are careful enough, might be able to sneak up on an amorous peeper. When you hear the high-pitched squeak of one of these little fellows, tip-toe toward it. If you get too close, the peeping will stop. So YOU stop. Be quieter than you ever thought possible. When the singing begins again (because the frog thinks that you’ve gone away), inch a little closer. Each time the singing stops, you stop, until you are able to pinpoint which bush or tree your friend is using as home tonight. Then (and only then) you turn on your light and try to spot the little fellow! What looks like a surprised mound of bubble gum will be your reward for patience. These delightful critters will be very thankful if you simply enjoy without touching them. (Imagine how you might feel if a finger the size of an elephant wanted to give YOU a gentle pat!)

This is how you hold the screech owl when you blow.

FROG A BUG! When you have said goodbye to your little green buddy, choose as your next night spot, a leafy tree branch with low-hanging leaves. Now, with one of your human pals, stretch the pillow case out flat. Hold it as close as you can to the leafy tree branch. With your stout stick, give the branch one good crack, and then quickly, another. When you shine your light upon the pillowcase, you might be surprised at what’s happened…You have just interrupted nature’s cafe! How many different kinds of bugs have fallen onto your case? On a good night, you might find as many as ten different types of insects feeding on a single branch. Imagine how many millions of these little feasters must be munching away all around you. Some come for the leaves, and others come for the leaf eaters. What’s on the menu tonight?

DIAMONDS IN THE LEAVES! The forest around you is rich with treasure. Would you like to explore a little further, and discover the secret diamonds of the night? Take your flashlight now, and place it EXACTLY between your eyes, on the bridge of your nose. It might take a little practice and a lot of giggling before you master the technique, but if you look straight down the beam of light into the leaves of the forest floor, the tiny diamonds will begin to show themselves. They glisten so brightly in the dark…what could they be? Gently push aside a clump of leaves to uncover even more of these glimmering jewels. This treasure though, is rarely gathered up by pirates. Why? Because it BITES!! Did you guess? What you have been hunting is really SPIDERS. As they stare up at you, their tiny eyes reflect the beam of your flashlight.

Be the night

By now, you are probably about to burst at the seams from being quiet for such a long time! So just let it all go now…take time out for a quick holler! Screech and roll on the ground, whoop and snort. Grab up a big handful of that good rich earth and inhale its delicious fragrance. YUM! Do two somersaults, put your flashlight on the ground, run twenty feet into the dark night then return to its safe glow. Feel better? O.K. It’s quiet time again. Slowly and quietly walk away from your noisy spot. Keep walking until that nighttime feeling of peace has come over you again. Now, notice a particular nook or cranny, maybe a flat rock or mossy log which seems to invite YOU over for a sit. Now do just that. Cozy up to your buddy, get comfortable, take three deep breaths. Turn your flashlight off. Let the night seep into your clothes, into your hair and even into the pores of your skin. Quiet…quiet. Become the night.