Still Something We Can Do and Stay Safe
Intimately coupled with the National Trails Day (up next on June 5, 2021), the National Take a Hike Day takes place on November 17. This very day is set apart to invite everyone to take a hike —yes the pun is intended and has been a long-standing subject of joking and horsing around, but to be fair, it has been embraced by the hiking community with humor and an edge— with family and/or friends, do some exercise, breathe in the pure air, enjoy the great (or quainter) outdoors and the beautiful scenery in our great country’s 60,000+ miles of nature trails.
The American Hiking Society’s website has a number of useful resources:
- Hikes Near You, with an interactive hiking trail map, trail ratings and an app to download maps with offline use, especially the very useful trail pinning procedure, to be fulfilled before your cell completely abandons any network.
- Hiking 101, with a comprehensive list to essentials packing before you go, an introduction to outdoor skills —including, but not limited to, things like the correct approach to leaving no trace, hiking with kids, backcountry hygiene, and water purification—, necessary gear, and safety and first aid on the trails.
- Hiking Blog, with the latest news and shared stories, including history pieces and political and regulatory acts and initiatives explained.
- Alliance of Hiking Organizations, if you are looking to get more information and savvy on how this network of hiking clubs, trail groups, and similar organizations work, or if you just want fast access to your local chapter for immediate membership and/or donations.
Even though by now we understand that gathering in enclosed spaces in of the riskiest things you can do in these times of coronademic, and that taking in our beautiful outdoors, any outside activity really, should not pose the greatest of risks, the advice from authorities remains stringent. The American Hiking Society (AHS) has a specific chapter dedicated to this entitled Hiking and Playing Outside in the Time of COVID-19, with the most evident asked and answered FAQs.
The number 1 rule is, of course, to continue to practice social distancing and to follow the guidelines set forth by your local government or by the CDCs, which are the federal Centers for Disease Control. Two facts, not having a vaccine in place yet and the still experimental stages of contact tracing, take absolute precedence in the seemingly strict advice from local, state and federal authorities. What this means is:
- Going outside, spending time outdoors (15 minutes daily is the recommended minimum), is very highly endorsed by mental and physical doctors the world over, but given the situation, you may have to stick to the spaces around you and known to you
- If you venture outside on a trail, sticking with your family or household group is, well, kind of essential
- Always keep in mind that social distancing (6 feet) is about protecting YOU, THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU, and our beloved first responders, among which we can highlight healthcare and other essential service workers
- Sticking to your neighborhood trails is not mandatory, but highly advised
- Wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer thoroughly and regularly… or, in the very least, before you attempt to bring anything to your mouth, and when you get home
- If you have the slightest inkling of a symptom, please self-quarantine immediately until you get tested to verify our status and do not venture outside, especially surrounded by others
- Always have a mask handy and do wear it if you are stopping and socializing with other folk