Introducing #EmbraceTheDark: A New Series on Exploration at Night
In honor of the upcoming darkest month of the year surrounding the Winter Solstice, we are launching a new series focusing on the Detroit region's outdoor exploration opportunities and gear that are best experienced after-sunset. We invite you to join us as we #EmbraceTheDark.
Ah, you think darkness is your ally? You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn't see the light until I was already a man, by then it was nothing to me but blinding.
Was Bane referring to a possible upbringing near Detroit when he spoke these famous words in the 2012 film The Dark Knight Rises? We don't believe so, but he very well could have been. This may come as a shock to any recent transplants to Detroit, but we are heading into some very dark days. No, I'm not referring to figurative "darkness" like an economic recession, another variant, or period of political turmoil (i.e., normal life over the last few years).
I'm writing of literal darkness. The absence of sunlight. Eleven and a half hours of complete, unadulterated night - nearly 3 times longer than the Summer Solstice.
These may not be welcomed words for most outdoor enthusiasts, which is perfectly reasonable. Beyond the natural human aversion to poorly lit experiences, the dark and freezing conditions of Detroit's winter evenings are not well suited for the majority of adventure-seekers. Nighttime ventures require additional planning, gear, and often externally-driven inspiration before they could ever become a reality.
In other words, exploring Detroit's wild places at night, during the least hospitable time of year, is way outside the lane of most recreationists. Anyone - or any company - that would flip the script and view darkness as an ally would have to be a little batshit (excuse the pun).
On that note, reintroducing Expedition Detroit: darkness' newest ally.
When we launched Expedition Detroit, one of our many goals included creating a platform that embraces our region's outdoor recreation opportunities in all of its purest forms. On the trail. In the water. Through the snow. Under a sweltering sun. And yes, in the midst of bone-chilling night. We especially wanted to highlight experiences that are uniquely Detroit - the moments that simultaneously invoke senses of adventure and pride in the wild places near home.
As already discussed, Detroit gets dark in its coldest winter months. Very dark. And while many outdoor enthusiasts either hibernate or migrate away from this period, we whole-heartedly embrace it as one of Detroit's greatest outdoor opportunities. A cause for celebration. A recreational resource that has remained relatively untapped.
Why is nighttime exploration worth doing - let alone celebrating? Well, beyond adding an extra element of adventure to each outdoor experience, venturing outside after sundown opens up opportunities that simply do not exist during the lighter, warmer periods of the year. The most crowded trails in easily-accessible parks like Maybury State Park suddenly become sanctuaries of solitude. Early sunsets mean greater viewing opportunities for nocturnal wildlife like owls, coyotes, raccoons, badgers, and fox. Your senses of hearing, smell, and even taste will benefit from the decreased visibility, meaning that you may find yourself in an even more immersive experience than your sunlit outings.
Oh, and don't forget about the galactic light show above you that is quite literally only possible in the darkest of night skies. Whether you're hiking under a full moon or paddling under the Milky Way, the stars that define nature's first entertainment platform and navigation system are best enjoyed in these dark days. Winter is also the best season of the year to view one of nature's crown jewels: the Aurora Borealis phenomenon, commonly known as the "Northern Lights," which has recently been visible in the Detroit region's most remote areas.
Here's the general game plan for our #EmbraceTheDark Series:
DESTINATIONS. We will explore, analyze, and report back on the Detroit region's best trails for nighttime exploration. Our articles will provide logistical details, timetables for park hours, and the can't miss "trail gems" worth exploring.
GEAR. Plummeting daylight hours and temperatures mean that your typical adventures will require more intentional gear choices. We will provide a breakdown of the essential nighttime exploration gear for every nocturnal adventure, plus the colder-weather clothing items that we recommend acquiring prior to your next venture. This article may prove useful for holiday shopping inspiration, too...
EXPERIENCES. This series will predominantly highlight the Detroit region's best outdoor experiences for nocturnal adventures - especially during the change of seasons that occurs late November - mid-December. Hiking. Snowshoeing. Running. Skiing and snowboarding. Biking. Yes, even kayaking. Each of these recreational activities can be fully experienced (and maybe even enhanced) at night, and we're chomping at the bit to get into the field to prove this theory.
STAR-GAZING. We will drill-down which areas within the Detroit region provide the best opportunities for viewing the cosmos with minimal light pollution. This will obviously not be an easy feat with one of North America's largest cities forming the epicenter of our area, but don't estimate the power of the Great Lakes and our region's outer rim of wilderness areas to shut the lights off.
SKILLS. Last but certainly not least, we will also produce instructional content on the wilderness survival skills that are most practical and essential for nighttime, winter scenarios. These skills will include starlit navigation, fire and shelter building, obtaining water and food, layering, and signaling.
The Expedition Detroit team is really excited to launch the #EmbraceTheDark Series and start leaning heavily into this most underrated of outdoor recreation seasons. We hope that you will join us by following along and providing your invaluable feedback in the comments. This platform is still very much in its infancy, so your thoughts, ideas, critiques, or general commentary has the potential to fundamentally influence the growth and trajectory of our operations. Our core goal is to create value for each member of Detroit's outdoor recreation industry - especially the Expedition Detroit community.
Bring on the darkness. We can't wait to see you out there.