Social Distancing and the Great Outdoors
How to explore responsibly during COVID-19
If we’re being honest, social distance is usually the main reason anybody wants to visit the great outdoors in the first place. Nowadays, going out for a hike, trail run, or mountain bike ride also serves as a much-needed escape from being trapped inside the home under quarantine. And while we’re all grateful for this opportunity to get away from everything and recharge our batteries, we must prepare against any chance of spreading the virus. Here are some tips to stay safe, healthy, and responsible on your outdoor adventures.
Get Off the Beaten Path
Don’t just go to the nearest hiking trail, you’re guaranteed to run into many others who have the same idea. This means more chances for germs to spread as you interact with larger numbers of people in the parking lot and on the trail. Instead, look for something a little more out of the way. The Trailforks website and mobile app is a fantastic resource for discovering new trails in your area for any number of activities, and also getting info on current conditions and closures.
While it might be nice to go on a long drive in search of a new hiking trail, try not to make any extra stops along the way. Smaller rural and mountain communities lack the resources needed to deal with a COVID outbreak, and travelers stopping to get supplies or look around puts these vulnerable areas at greater risk. To avoid this, bring plenty of food, snacks and water along with you. Fill up on gas before you leave home, and try to make it back without stopping to refill.
Don’t Risk It
Now is not the time to test your mountain bike prowess on a steep, technical descent in the middle of nowhere! Injuries and rescue operations in remote areas are difficult under normal circumstances, but in these times they put even more stress on the medical systems focused on fighting the virus. Make sure you’re appropriately prepared for the activity you’re embarking on and staying well within your abilities when exploring the wilderness. As always, make sure to tell somebody you know where you’re going and when you expect to return.
Normal Rules Apply
Just like going to the grocery store or running other essential errands, you need to be following the same protocols for when you inevitably come across other trail users. That means maintaining a distance of at least six feet, wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth when others are nearby, and frequently washing or sanitizing your hands when coming into contact with things that others may have touched such as picnic tables or restroom door handles.
There’s no reason you can’t turn to the power of nature to restore your spirit and clear your head during quarantine. Following these guidelines will ensure that we are all able to keep doing so as we wait for the day when we’re again able to live without social distancing.