Hiking during the COVID19 pandemic
Being on lock down has been the worst time for all of us. Firstly, we are adventurous beings and are not used to being indoors for longer periods of time, with little or no option to go out. Secondly, this whole thing came with its own discomforts and caused a lot of anxiety. Therefore, when the President announced that hiking had been added to the activities that can be enjoyed during level 3, most people jumped on it.
This meant most people went out with little or no caution at all. All they wanted was to get out there and spend a day in nature. Unfortunately this meant a lot of people had the same idea on mind and a lot went wrong. However, we learn as we navigate this new “normal” 😉
The tips below are meant to help you be very intentional about your safety and plan better for your next hike. Let’s use them to save lives:
Trust your instinct, make that decision and stick to it. Even before you can leave your car, just by looking at the number of cars already parked, you can deduce that the trail is packed. On that note, don’t be shy to turn around, either look for a different trail close by or go back home. It is not worth risking your life and those of fellow hikers and anyone you would come in contact with after the hike. Rather be teased for being a coward or a sceptic than find yourself counting hours on a hospital bed.
Pack your own hand sanitizer
It can never be stressed enough that you should always have your sanitizer close by. If you will be climbing on either rocks or steel ladders you need to use you sanitizer before and after; just to be sure. Yes I said it, before and after, you can’t afford to leave room for any uncertainty 😀. Safety First! Save yourself from the anxiety of later playing all possible scenarios over and over again in your heard.
Bring your own water bottle
This is so you can ensure that the virus is not spread from one person to the next. If there is a need for you to share your water with others, please ensure that you are the only person touching the bottle. It is the little things that we never think of as threats that will bring our down fall. Pay attention to every little detail and make sure you don’t miss a thing. I know it sounds impossible and a whole lot of work, but it will be worth it 😉.
Stay clear of others
I am even tempted to say take it as far as three meters apart. I know it will be difficult to maintain that distance through-out. This is why you need this one meter buffer just to ensure that you still are maintaining the social distancing two metres requirement. The further you stay from others, the more chances of avoiding adding to the already high number of infections.
Wear your mask
As uncomfortable as people have highlighted, wearing a mask could be your only line of defense. The debate about the type of mask to use is still on going, however during this time any mask will suffice. Even using your snoods (double the layer) works just fine. Wearing a mask not only protects you from others but also protect others from you. Therefore if you can’t do it for yourself, do it for the culture😉.
Choose your trails wisely
For the time being, avoid going for your usual difficult hikes. I found that when tackling challenging hikes I tend to use my hands a lot, which means I will be touching places that other people have touched and some are also going to touch. This will then accelerate the spread of the virus if one of those people is infected, and others happen to catch the droplets. Avoid hikes where there will be a lot of surface/ objects touching and huge crowds.
Avoid hiking in groups
It does not matter how small the group is, a lot can happen. For instance if you are hiking with a group of friends the assumption will be you are all negative, and that everyone is being honest about their status – Big mistake! Then you will start ignoring all the rules that are there to keep you safe. You will start sharing food and equipment. In no time the whole group will be infected and you will not even know how and when. Because you will always find people on the trails, solo hikes/ hiking in twos is the way to go; for the time being.
Leave no Trace
Taking care of the environment will never go out of fashion, therefore always be mindful of your impact to the environment. This has become even more important now. Most trails have bins, use them! However, remember to avoid touching them; and if you do please sanitize immediately after.
If you are going to pick up any dirt, always remember to wear the necessary protective clothing. One wise woman said “treat everyone as if they had already tested positive for #COVID19 and you will save your life and others”.
If you really need to go out there and hike, do so with caution. Alternatively #stayhome and #savelives.