Darkness Calls

| May / June 2006

Stephen Parks and Nelson Zink think people should get out in nature -- in the dark. The Taos, New Mexico, residents are avid 'nightwalkers' who believe hiking after twilight is a transcendent experience.

By keeping your eyes focused on a point in the distance and letting your attention absorb the surroundings, Zink and Parks say, you begin to see in a new way and move through the darkest night as if by magic.

The science behind the phenomenon involves the rods in our eyes, which function at peak levels in low light and are active when we utilize peripheral vision. The almost otherworldly visceral experience, though, results from letting yourself become one with the night. Being in darkness 'can be the most relaxing yet exhilarating experience,' says Parks in Backpacker (Sept. 2003). 'You feel like you belong -- like you have the same powers as other creatures of the night.'