Hiking Responsibly and Safely to Ease the Stress of Covid-19

It is important to remember when and how to experience Hiking Responsibly and Safely to Ease the Stress of Covid-19. I am very familiar with how hard it is to get outside right now, especially in cities. Local, state and national parks are closed but we are still told to be outdoors is good. Even running or walking can be problematic. Try as they might, some people just can’t seem to use sidewalks correctly.
While local stay-at-home orders specifically make exceptions for outdoor activities — hiking, running, biking — officials are also urging people to stay close to home and wear masks. The American Hiking Society has been telling its members to #HikeResponsibly.

“We definitely don’t want people staying cooped up in their homes, and not getting outside at all,” said Van Waes. “But it’s complicated.”

Here are some tips that can help you get outdoors during corona virus pandemic the right way:

Limit how far you go

It okay to get in a car and drive if you do not have any trails very close but keep in mind that if you leave your community you could bring the virus with you possibly without even knowing it. It is best to “stay local” — but if you do travel to the outdoors, make sure you can reach the trailhead without making a stop. Be sure to pack water/recovery drinks and snacks in advance (do not stop and get on the way). Once you are finished with you hike be sure to go straight home.

You can hike in your home town

You can still enjoy the outdoors in your neighborhood. Urban hiking or paved hikes in town can provide many of the same benefits of backpacking in nature. Take time to explore, discover, and get physical exercise outdoors building up distance, or wearing a heavy backpack to train for a tough backpacking trip.

Know before you go

Know what property you are going to visit and confirm they are open. Do not depend on what others have posted on social media – call managing authority to see if trailheads and trails are open. Check the website of the place you want to go: town and city parks fall under municipal guidelines, while national forests and national parks will have their own websites, updated regularly with closures. Wildlife Management Areas tend to fall under forestry departments.
Stay flexible as you may have to change plans at the last minute. If you arrive and see that there are a lot of people gathered around the trailhead, picnic tables and bathrooms, you really need to choose to leave. It is wise to head to your back up location if you find the parking area is “more than half full.”

Early mornings and midweek days are best

Try to avoid starting your hike after 9 am or on sunny weekend day. These days and times are when you will find trails are more populated.

Don’t forget to prepare your pack before you head out

These 10 essentials are suggested for any outdoor excursion:

• Navigation – map, compass, GPS
• Sun Protection – glasses, sunscreen, hat
• Insulation – extra clothes, avoid cotton
• Illumination – headlamp, flashlight
• First aid supplies – know how to use them
• Emergency fire – camp stove, matches
• Repair kit and tools – what can break
• Nutrition – enough and extra food
• Hydration – enough and extra water
• Emergency shelter and communication – cell phone, whistle

Bring a mask… just in case

You do not know who you will run into when out in public so during this time is is smart to have a mask handy (easy to access) If you see a group of people coming your way, or you may be passing someone at a narrow point on the trail you can slip on.

Remember to give yourself space

Give people space in parking lots, gathering areas and when you see approaching hikers on the trail try to step off the trail to keep a 6 feet distance between you. Plan to hike with people you’re already in contact with, such as family or roommates. This is not the best time to meet up with a friend or make new friends on the trail.

Some final tips to remember

Hikers should plan on ranger stations, park buildings, restrooms and facilities to be closed.
You should always pack out what you pack in, including trash, toilet paper, and human waste to properly dispose of it. Many locations will not have waste services running at this time; take what you bring with you home to dispose of properly.

Packing hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes could also be useful to keep your hands clean and avoid touching your face.

Remember not to follow too closely to others on the trail. If being approached practice proper Lean No Trace ethics and carefully step off trail and continue after others pass.

If you feeling sick at all please choose to stay home until you are well. Remember we are all in this together!

We hope these tips will help you feel safer while on the trail during this difficult time. We look forward to seeing back out on the trails soon! Watch our calendar on our website and follow us on Facebook so we can adventure together again soon!

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