I had a private pilot license, single-engine land, but no instrument rating. I had accumulated about 500 hours, including instruction in night flying and about 13 hours of night flight. I considered myself a prudent pilot, inclined to plan carefully for each flight and any challenges it posed. The field from which I would be taking off did pose serious challenges. At the time, the runway was an unpaved clearing atop a hill, without any lights at the field at all. The runway ran east and west. Along the north side of the runway was a forest of tall Douglas firs, about 200 feet from the edge of the runway. The runway was not level and had a hump about a third of the way to the end. I was concerned about the darkness of the field, but my friends said they would line up their trucks along the field, shining their headlights across the runway. I thought (foolishly as it turned out) that I could use these lights to guide me during my takeoff run.